Stress and the Skin

How Your Skin Is Affected by Stress

The skin and the nervous system are like twins separated at birth but never really staying apart, — dermatology professor Laurent Misery once said, when talking about skin sensitivity

In embryos the skin and the nervous system are the same organ – ectodermic, which gradually develops into separate systems at a later stage of in utero growth. The skin and the nervous system speak the same biochemical language, skin cells are very similar to nervous cells, and even melanocytes (pigment cells) are sometimes called skin neurons for their properties. 

This means that yes, when your nervous system is shaken (like throughout 2020 with Covid19 Pandemic!), it is reflected in your skin condition. Stress elevates the level of stress hormones, such as cortisol and aggravates all skin conditions, including acne and rosacea. That’s why we have psychodermatology. 

So what’s the strategy when stress hits? Should we first address psychological concerns? Or maybe skin care will provide relief to the stress as well as the skin? The answer is work — both ways, from the inside out and from the outside in. 

Psychodermatology practice demonstrates that skin treatments are more effective when the patients practice mindfulness and meditation, have access to counselling and receive prescription medication when necessary. On the other hand, skin conditions can cause a great level of discomfort and increase the feeling of insecurity and stress, therefore successful skin care or aesthetic treatments could increase psychological comfort and have a positive effect on mental health. 

This is, by the way, one of the reasons why many national associations of skin therapists caution against prolonged closure of dermatological clinics and aesthetic salons. People need professional skin care for more than just vanity, health is also at stake here, albeit in a less immediate way than with a heart surgery. 

How Prolonged Anxiety & Stress Affect the Skin

Many people notice immediate acne breakout in response to stress. Acne can manifest within just a few hours following a panic attack or strong feeling of anxiety, while rosacea can flare up almost instantly when you’re faced with stress. Psoriasis, neurodermitis, eczema, atopic dermatitis – all these skin conditions can manifest or intensify when negative emotions run high. 

The good thing is, it works the other way around as well. It’s not an illusion that a happy face is radiant: the feelings of delight, happiness, serenity etc. are beneficial for the skin because they’re accompanied with the increased synthesis of endorphins possessing a strong anti-inflammatory and anti-stress action.

How does stress affect rosacea? You can probably guess. During stressful times rosacea can progress with the speed of forest fire. And to make things worse, many people turn to alcohol and junk food when they’re anxious or unhappy, which only worsens their skin condition.   

Can stress and anxiety cause vitiligo? 

Stress does not cause vitiligo, but it certainly is a trigger. Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease, and stress and anxiety are known triggers of the body’s autoimmune response exacerbating already present problems, and not just skin conditions, but diabetes, arthritis and other diseases. Severe stress can play an important role in the development of vitiligo and can affect the severity of illness. 

Peptides Help Stressed Skin

There is a whole class of neuromodulating peptides able to interact with different structures of the nervous system, from sensitive nervous fibres to the cell receptors of mimic muscles. 

Dr Meder’s Top-3 of Anti-stress & Anti-ageing Peptides

  1. Skinasensyl (Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15) binds µ-opioid receptors and inhibits CGRP release by the sensory neurons, transforming stressed skin into happy skin. Skinasensyl can also help prevent the majority of contact allergic reactions, if used in sufficient concentration. I use Skinasensyl as a little bit of magic in all Meder masks’ formulations to calm down the skin and obtain maximum anti-aging and skin-wellness response.
  2. Calmosensine (acetyl dipeptide-1 cetyl ester) is a small dipeptide Tyr-Arg (NATAH) which stimulates the release of beta-endorphin in keratinocytes. Calmosensine reduces the skin’s sensitivity to stress and environmental damage with its confirmed calming and anti-irritating effect, while also increasing elastin synthesis in the fibroblasts, especially tropoelastin. I use this wonderful molecule in our face-slimming Lipo-Oval Concentrate, in combination with caffeine, niacinamide and Slim Excess complex, to fight stress-related swelling, puffiness and fat deposits.  
  3. Rigin (Palmitoyl tetrapeptide-7) is also a small peptide with a great capacity to penetrate into the deep layers of the skin. Rigin suppresses the excessive production of inflammatory messengers interleukins reducing inflammation caused by both nervous and environmental stress. Rigin is one of the few skin-identical peptides, which means it is naturally present in human skin. Rigin can trigger a signalling cascade that releases matrikins increasing the production of vital collagen, elastin, proteoglycans and glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronic and glucuronic acids. I use Rigin as a key player in Arma-Neck cream alongside Vitamin E to restore the damaged skin of neck and décolleté and reduce wrinkles. 

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