Anxiety And Skin Issues

Anxiety And Skin Issues

Emotional stress and anxiety may aggravate any chronic skin diseases can initiate a vicious cycle referred to as the itch-scratch cycle

Stress and anxiety have become a part of our daily lives and it can take a toll on one’s health, even more so on the skin. A lot of skin, hair and nail issues, new and pre-existing, can crop up with the stress and anxiety affecting our mind and body.

Anxiety causes the release of certain hormones like cortisol in the brain. This makes skin more sensitive and hyper-responsive. An anxious personality can experience a new rash or the flaring up of pre-existing skin disorders. Also, sudden stress, physical or mental, can greatly hamper the growth and repairing capacity of the skin, nails and hair.

When stressed out, people usually neglect routine skin care activities which makes the skin look dull and damaged. Certain chronic skin diseases like psoriasis or eczema, lead to a damaged self-esteem, social stigma and even depression. Persons with disfigurement frequently feel psychologically and socially devastated. This can also be listed as a stressor in life. Therefore. a planned approach to effectively manage both the disease and its stress response needs to be devised.

Emotional stress and anxiety may aggravate many chronic skin diseases and can initiate a vicious cycle referred to as the ‘itch-scratch cycle.’ This chronic itching further damages the skin and may lead to scarring and pigmentation.

Stress And Skin Diseases

  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Allergic rashes like hives
  • Seborrheic dermatitis
  • Fever blisters (or cold sores)
  • Alopecia
  • Vitiligo (leucoderma)

A stressful event can trigger an autoimmune reaction ¡n many diseases like vitiligo. alopecia (hair loss) etc. Anxiety may also cause excessive sweating with an unpleasant odour. If pimples are picked, eczema scratched, boils squeezed or hair pulled, it may result in scarring. So, a proper acceptance of the disease and habit-reversal training and alternative behaviours help in effective management of the skin condition.

Short-term or sudden anxiety may cause minor skin issues like pimples popping up overnight before an exam or an important meeting, generalized skin sensitivity, redness or itching etc. Also. long-term or chronic stress can alter skin behaviour and may initiate inflammatory responses or delay skin healing. Likewise, certain personality traits with hyper-reactive or anxiety behaviours might experience exaggerated symptoms of underlying skin disorders.

Treatment Possibilities

  • Antidepressants.
  • Relaxation therapy.
  • Counselling and support groups.
  • Deep breathing exercises.
  • Meditation, yoga and behavioural therapy.
  • Medications like benzodiazepines, SSRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, antihistamines with anti-anxiety properties like hydroxyzine and doxepin etc. may be selected according to symptoms.
  • Chronic skin disorders which may cause anxiety can be managed only after consistent and regular follow-ups with a dermatologist and instead of changing doctors if the condition doesn’t seem to improve, it is advisable to discuss all social and emotional concerns with just one doctor.

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