Here are some ways stress affect your appearance23.05.2022
Stress can cause hair to fall out. This is not something you would normally see in movies. Your entire body can be affected by stress, which can happen in many different ways. Stress can also have a negative impact on your appearance. The list of effects can range from stress acne to gray hair.
We spoke to Dr. Ryan Turner, Turner Dermatology NYC, about the most common ways stress can affect your hair and skin. It’s important to first define what stress is before we get into the details. Stress does not refer to a bad day at the office, a fight between a friend or partner, or missing your commuter train. Stress can affect all aspects of your life. Even being tired can cause stress to the body.
Stress can be caused by things like emotional stress, chronic illness and poor eating habits. Working long hours and excessive alcohol consumption can also cause stress to the body. Different hormone signals are released when the body is stressed to help the mind and body deal. You might have heard these hormones: norepinephrine, cortisol and adrenaline. The effects of this shift in hormones, not to mention possible exhaustion, can have a negative impact on your body and affect your appearance. Here’s how.
How stress affects your hair
1. “Shock Loss”, aka Telogen Effluvium
Stress-related hair loss can be sudden and severe. It is important to know how to differentiate it from regular hair loss patterns. Perhaps you are used to only seeing one or two hairs after a shower, toweling off, and suddenly you start seeing five or ten every single time. Turner says it could be telogen effluvium if it isn’t male-pattern hair fall (androgenetics alopecia).
He says that telogen effluvium was a common symptom of the pandemic. This could be due to psychological stress or COVID infection. It causes the hair follicle to enter a new growth cycle. This must be followed by the shedding of existing hair. The good news is that hairs that have been subject to “shock loss” will likely grow back. He says that although the “Telogen effluvium” usually recovers within a few months, it can also be rapid with rapid shedding.
Turner states that stress can be a minor contributor to male-pattern hair loss. However, your genetic hair loss will occur inevitably.
2. Alopecia Areata
Telogen effluvium doesn’t just cause hair loss. Turner explains that alopecia areata can also be described as “circumscribed patches of hair loss on the scalp or beard.” Alopecia areata is a condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles. “This can often be reversed by removing the stressor or treatment by your dermatologist.” (Which often involves a steroid injection along with regular minoxidil use–but your doctor will determine what is best for your case.)
3. Premature Grays
It’s easy for all those late nights at work to start to show in your hair. Stress can also lead to premature graying. Turner states that stress hormones, most notably norepinephrine, can cause the depletion or melanocytes (pigment-producing cell) around the hair’s follicle. This is a fancy way to say that your hair may lose its pigment quicker if you try your luck.
How stress affects skin
1. Acne and a heightened oil production
Your skin’s oil production can be triggered by adrenaline and cortisol surges through stressed-out veins. This can lead to a greater likelihood of a breakout. Turner says that this is not the only reason for the rise in blemishes. “The skin microbiome, which contains the good bacteria’, is also weakening, allowing it overrun bad acne bacteria. It’s time to improve your anti-acne skincare routine and possibly add probiotics.”
2. Hindered Healing
Turner states that stress hormones (mainly cortisol) can slow down skin’s healing process by interfering in natural repair mechanisms. “Stress can also negatively affect the production of collagen within the skin.” This collagen is what keeps your skin firm and resilient. And, it’s already decreasing in quantity as you age. You need as much collagen as you can get and stress is not helping.
Hyperpigmentation is a condition where there’s a darkened patch or spot on your skin that won’t go away. Hyperpigmentation is most often caused by too much sun exposure. However, a hormonal imbalance can also cause it. As we age, hyperpigmentation can also increase. Turner says that it is not only the body’s internal stress which can cause it. He suggests looking at the environment around you. “Environmental stressors like cigarette smoke and air pollution can cause free radical formation that causes ‘oxidative stresses’ to the skin.” This can lead to skin discoloration.
4. Dry, dull skin
Stress can cause skin to become less resilient to moisture and its microbiome. Turner says that stress can cause skin that is dry and rough, as well as dull, sunken and sullen.