How Stress Can Mess With Your Skin Plus 3 Ways to Fix It

Being the largest organ of your body, the skin tells a lot about what’s going on inside. Unfortunately, the stress-induced cortisol spike can show its effects on the skin, too, causing anything from acne breakout to fine lines. 

While your extensive skincare routine might keep your skin radiant and fresh, it won’t do much against the stress that comes from within. 

Rosacea, dermatitis, and eczema are among some of the skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety. 

Since their underlying cause is mainly inflammation, extreme stress could trigger the inflammatory markers, making your skin bear the consequences. 

If you’re interested in learning how stress messes with your skin – and more importantly, how to fix it – keep reading. 

How Does Stress Affect Your Skin?

Typically, chronic stress affects your skin in one or both of the two ways. First, when you’re stressed, your body releases certain hormones that impact the skin negatively. 

Second, stress often leads to poor habits, like popping pimples and biting your nails. These habits are also detrimental to your skin health. 

Eye Bags 

The formation of bags under the eyes is one of the skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety. Normally, bags form with age. As you grow older, the skin muscles around the eyes weaken, causing puffiness under the eyelids. 

Plus, if your skin is sagging due to a decrease in overall elasticity, it can also form eye bags. 

However, the research found that lack of sleep due to stress can also be the culprit behind eye bag formation. If you’re not sleeping well, the lack of rest accelerates the signs of aging, lowering skin elasticity and contributing to bag formation under the eyes. 


Your body begins producing the hormone cortisol in excess when you’re stressed. As a result, cortisol stimulates the hypothalamus – part of the brain – to release the corticotropin-releasing hormone

CRH, in turn, stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more oil near the hair follicles. Due to excess oil production, your pores could be clogged, resulting in acne and breakdowns. 

A 2011 study found the following reasons to worsen acne: menstruation, alcohol consumption, and stress. Additionally, a 2017 study showed that female students who were more stressed had severe acne problems. 


The anxiety stress-rash correlation has also been seen in different conditions. 

Chronic stress can make your immune system weaker, causing an imbalance in the gut microbiome. The condition is called dysbiosis

The long-term persistence of this condition leads to a rash on the skin.

Furthermore, if you’re stressed for too long, it could aggravate different conditions that cause rashes, including contact dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema. 


A 2014 review showed that stress weakens the skin’s stratum corneum barriers to reduce the dermal ability to retain water. The stratum corneum is the outer skin layer, made of lipids and proteins that keep the skin hydrated. 

A stress-related disruption in the structure of the stratum corneum can lead to poor water retention, ultimately making the skin itchy and dry. The review mentioned above also reported that stress due to marital problems lower the stratum corneum’s ability to self-heal. 


Stress also causes wrinkles on the face due to protein degeneration. Excessive stress reduces the skin’s elasticity by breaking down proteins, such as elastin. Consequently, your skin starts wrinkling even at a young age. 

The best way to stop stress from affecting your skin is to prevent or lower stress in the first place. First off, you must identify your cause of stress and learn how to deal with it so that it doesn’t spread to impact the rest of your body negatively. 

Here are three ways to fix it. 

  1. Make Lifestyle Changes 

While using medicines is a quick way to deal with stress, it should be your last resort. Start by making lifestyle changes to lower your stress levels

First off, make sure that you’re getting enough sleep. Sleeping for up to at least seven hours every night is important for adults to maintain their health. If you’re having issues sleeping, take a melatonin supplement to facilitate the process. 

Secondly, eat healthy foods to lower your stress levels. Some foods are naturally rich in antioxidants and can help lower the oxidative stress in the body. 

Furthermore, avoid eating processed foods and artificial sweeteners since they’re not healthy for your body. 

Sometimes, little things like spending an hour on your phone as soon as you wake up can worsen your stress levels. Instead, go for a walk, workout, or take an online yoga class early in the morning to start your day right. 

  1. Self Care 

Self care isn’t just an Instagram fad but an actual way of life. If you don’t look after yourself, your neglect will take a toll on your physical and mental health. 

Make time for activities and things you love. Moreover, prioritize your mental health to ensure a reduction in stress. 

Most importantly, if you have a busy schedule, make time for your favorite things to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Soon, you’ll see the effect of self care on your skin. 

  1. Talk to Someone 

If you’re feeling excessively stressed due to something at work or home, talk to someone you can confide in. Sometimes, talking about a stressful situation can help you see it’s not as big as your brain is making it to be. 

Plus, the other person might help you find a solution to the problem you’re dealing with. 

If this doesn’t work, speak to a therapist. They’ll use exposure therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy to help you identify the cause of your stress and deal with it appropriately. 


As clear from this guide, there are multiple skin conditions caused by stress and anxiety. If you want to prevent them from making your skin appear dull and unhealthy, you must find ways to deal with your stress effectively. 

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