People have often blamed stress for acne breakouts and other skin problems.
Turns out, they were likely right about what caused their breakouts.
While linked anecdotally for years, proving there is indeed a relationship between stress and skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and others has been elusive.
At Dermatology Associates P.C., we can help treat painful and emotionally difficult skin conditions to help you achieve clear skin and better self-esteem. Dermatology Associates has offices in Norwood, Foxboro and Franklin. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment.
The American Academy of Dermatology recently spoke with Dr. Richard Granstein, who serves as the George W. Hambrick Jr. professor and the chairman of the dermatology department at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York.
Granstein said it has long been known that the nervous system, which processes stress in humans, impacts the skin and conditions like psoriasis. Granstein reflected on the latest research on the impact of stress on inflammatory skin conditions and how research could lead to a change in treatment.
Q.) What is the role of stress in inflammatory skin conditions?
Granstein said research on skin and its relationship to the nervous system has been understood for some time. He said if you disrupt the nerves’ trip to an area of skin affected by psoriasis, the psoriasis condition improves. Also, Granstein said psoriasis can improve if a local anesthetic is injected into psoriasis patches. This strongly suggests the key role nerves play in the existence and development of psoriasis.
Granstein said animal studies have determined stress can worsen inflammatory skin conditions. In one study from Japan, mice that were genetically prone to develop rashes, similar in nature to the skin condition known as atopic dermatitis, did so when they were under stress. Mice not exposed to stress did not develop the rash.
According to Granstein, experimental data backs the notion that the nervous system and stress can impact inflammatory skin conditions. Numerous skin cell types can be impacted by neuropeptides and neurotransmitters – the chemicals that are released by nerve endings in the skin.
Stress can prompt the skin’s nerve endings to release a higher level of chemicals. When this happens, it can influence how, and at what level, the body responds to important functions such as sensation and blood flow, and can add to the stress symptoms people feel.
Q.) Does stress impact skin in other ways?
Dr. Granstein said research thus far has not linked stress to the aging of skin. But when stress is combined with ultraviolet ray exposure, Granstein said animal studies have indicated that stress may impact the development of skin cancer.
Q.) How does the most recent research impact how people with inflammatory skin conditions are treated?
Dr. Granstein said additional research needs to be undertaken to better understand how the nervous system and stress impact inflammatory skin conditions – especially because other factors, including genetics, can play a part in such conditions.
Granstein said those who suffer from inflammatory skin conditions should tell their dermatologist if they believe stress may be the culprit. Patients also may want to try stress reduction techniques.