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All the Ways Stress and Anxiety Can Mess With Your Skin

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Anxiety may originally arise in your brain, but the consequences can play out all over your face. And we don’t just mean a clenched jaw or a furrowed brow. Stress, anxiety, and similar emotional states can trigger or worsen a wide range of skin conditions, from acne to hair-thinning alopecia, to scaly psoriasis, research shows.

For instance, in one study of 101 people with psoriasis—an autoimmune condition that causes excess skin cells to build up in itchy, painful patches—about half reported that their first brush with the disease came during a particularly trying time in their lives. And about two-thirds said their symptoms worsened when they felt pressured.

Researchers also found that for about three-fourths of patients, stressful events had occurred within six months prior to developing a condition called alopecia areata, in which patches of hair fall out without warning. In another study, female medical students with higher stress levels also reported worse acne.

Modern medicine tends to slice the body into specialty domains, with psychiatrists attending to your mind while dermatologists soothe your skin. But practically speaking, physiology isn’t so neatly divided, says dermatologist Francisco Tausk, a professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center and head of the nation's only Center for Integrated Dermatology.

Read More: All the Ways Stress and Anxiety Can Mess With Your Skin