Stress and Skin Disorders

We all know that stress can cause our faces to break out with acne, but did you ever wonder why your eczema flares right before your wedding day, or you break out in hives when you’re about to start your dream job? The answer to these questions is also stress, and psychodermatology is the study of this phenomenon.

Psychodermatology investigates the connection between one’s emotions and how those emotions affect the skin. A classic example mentioned above is acne, which can be explained physiologically by stress causing the release of hormones, one of which is cortisol. Cortisol can increase oil production in the skin, possibly causing acne.

In his article titled “9 Stress-Related Skin Problems”, Dr. James L. Wilson states that “When stress is frequent, prolonged or chronic, healing and rapidly growing tissues like hair, skin and nails are hit the hardest. In fact, these tissues can be a barometer for how much stress is affecting your body.” (1)

Karen Mallin, PsyD, points out that “The mind and skin are connected on many different levels. A lot of nerve endings are connected to the skin, which wraps around the organs, so as emotions are played out neurologically, they can be expressed through the skin just as stress can be expressed through gastrointestinal symptoms, increased anxiety, or hypertension.” (2)

So, what to do? Although many skin conditions can and should be treated by a physician, reducing stress can be of benefit. This is great in theory, but what are some concrete steps that can help? Try these!

  1. Practice mindfulness
  2. Exercise
  3. Get a massage!

Now relax and have better skin!


  1. 9 Stress-Related Skin Problems. (April 26, 2016). Adrenal Fatigue Team. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from
  2. The Mind-Skin Connection. (Archives). WebMD. Retrieved February 28, 2017, from