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Stress And Your Skin

By Vivian Oputa
Stress is unavoidable and comes in several forms. To a homeward bound motorist it could be the hassles of heavy traffic and noxious exhaust fumes. To a student it could be the pressure of studying for exams and to a working individual it could be the pressure associated with meeting work related deadlines. Bad relationships are also stressful.

The negative effects of stress not only attacks immune function and all body organs but in several cases, adversely  affects the skin. While dermatologists are still debating whether stress actually causes skin disorders, they seem to agree that stress definitely triggers or aggravates skin conditions such as acne hives, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, warts, cold sores and blisters.

The adverse impact of stress on immune function also affects skin as the skin is the largest organ which is directly connected to physiological function. Even if stress does not actually show up on your skin as one of the above conditions, it contributes greatly to an increased population of free radicals in the body, which, in turn, is known to be a major cause of premature aging.

Emotional or mental trauma can cause lead to repeated negative facial expressions and the constant muscular contractions can eventually become permanent frown lines and wrinkles.

The “fight-or-flight” mechanism is the body’s built-in way of responding to stress. In times of “fight-or-flight,” the flow of blood and nutrients is directed to the areas of the body considered vital for survival and is withdrawn from areas considered non-essential, such as the skin.
When this response is frequent, the skin is consistently starved of both blood flow and oxygen and toxic waste removal becomes sluggish. This makes it dull, lifeless, less hydrated and more prone to clogged congested pores and breakouts.

Stress also undermines digestion. Poor digestion is known to adversely affect skin and overall health in two ways. First of all, your body does not absorb all the nutrients from the foods you eat and secondly, undigested impurities tend to accumulate in the body faster than the body can get expel them. This toxic build up finds its way into the blood stream and may show up as breakouts, blemishes and skin rashes.

Stress may also lead to comfort eating which may lead to weight gain and blemished skin especially when processed foods and those with a high glycaemic index are consumed excessively. It may also encourage poor lifestyle choices such as smoking and the excessive consumption of alcohol that age the skin prematurely.

The appearance of your skin is a reflection of all that goes on in the mind and body.  It is very important to manage stress as it is an unavoidable part of living. A well balanced diet, regular exercise and massage therapy all help keep the body in balance.


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