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Stress's Impact on the Health of Your Skin and Nails

By Jade C. Pulman

Most of us are aware of the mental and psychological impacts of stress. Too much stress can make it difficult to concentrate, increase your overall anxiety, or lead to unhealthy behaviors. But did you know that stress can have an impact on your body as well? Here are some of the most common ways that stress affects your physical appearance.

Oily Skin

Stress doesn’t directly cause acne, but it can lead to other things that promote more oily skin. Stress stimulates the adrenal glands, which can cause flare-ups in the skin. An excess release of cortisol and androgen can provoke increased breakouts.

So how do you know if your acne is caused by stress or something else? After all, the timing and intensity of breakouts are influenced by genetics, nutritional deficiency, and psychological factors. Pay attention to when your breakouts occur. Do they match up with the times you are stressed? This might indicate a correlation between acne and stress. It might also be a good idea to see a dermatologist and find out if there are other factors contributing to your skin.

Regardless of whether stress is causing your acne or not, there are a variety of ways that you can improve the health of your skin. Follow a regular skin care routine, and avoid touching and picking at your face. You should also pay attention to your diet. Eating a lot of junk food when you are stressed can lead to increased breakouts.

Hair Loss

Chronic stress can negatively affect your hair, as well as your skin. In fact, there is a correlation between chronic stress and hair loss. Alopecia areata causes hair to fall out in random patches, telogen effluvium, causes the hair to thin and then shed. Some people even experience a condition called trichotillomania, a mental disorder that creates the irresistible urge to pull out one’s own hair.

Some men and women will experience male or female pattern baldness as they get older, which is largely genetic. However, you should see a doctor if you are experiencing regular hair loss, especially when accompanied by itching, redness, or pain. Your doctor can help you determine if the hair loss is related to stress, or if there might be other factors involved, like a hormonal imbalance or a side effect to a medication.

You can prevent hair loss by making sure you get enough vitamins. Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, and B-vitamins like biotin all promote healthier hair growth. You should also make sure you are you are taking good care of your hair by regularly washing your scalp and avoiding hair-damaging products and treatments. Developing techniques to reduce your anxiety will also help you avoid the levels of stress that contribute to hair loss.

Fragile Nails

In addition to your hair and skin, stress can make your nails become weak and brittle, causing them to peel and break more frequently. Stress increases the cortisol in your body, weakening the collagen that strengthens your skin and nails. Nail biting can also result from too much stress, which may lead to infection or deformities.

Brittle nails stem from a variety of factors. Poor nutrition, harsh chemicals, and environmental factors, like repeated wetting and drying of the hands can all cause the nails to weaken and break. Try treating your nails first to see if your symptoms could be related to something other than stress.

Often, unhealthy nails are the result of poor habits. Noticing these habits can help you take better care of your nails and avoid pain and discomfort. If you notice your nails becoming more fragile, give them a break. Avoid harsh solvents and nail products for a couple of weeks, and see if they begin to heal. If you have a problem with nail biting, identify situations that cause you to bite your nails so you can find healthier ways to cope.

Moderate amounts of stress are a normal part of life, and stress shouldn’t be eliminated completely. But too much stress can take its toll on your physical and emotional well-being. Paying attention to your body and taking action when you notice unusual symptoms will help you to lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.

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