The holiday season is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, but for many people, it can also be a source of stress and anxiety. Whether it’s due to the pressure of hosting, the expectations of gift-giving, the lack of sleep, the unhealthy eating, or the family conflicts, stress can take a toll on your physical and mental health. And one of the most visible signs of stress is your skin.
Stress can affect your skin in many ways, from causing breakouts to triggering flare-ups of chronic conditions. Here are seven examples of how stress around the holidays can affect your skin, and what you can do to prevent or treat them.
- Acne: Stress can increase the production of cortisol, a hormone that stimulates the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. This can clog your pores and cause inflammation, leading to acne. To prevent acne, try to keep your skin clean and moisturized, avoid touching your face, and use gentle products that are suitable for your skin type. You can also use over-the-counter or prescription medications that contain benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or retinoids to treat existing pimples.
- Eczema: Stress can worsen eczema, a condition that causes dry, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin. Stress can trigger an immune response that releases histamine, a chemical that causes itching and inflammation. To prevent eczema flare-ups, try to avoid triggers such as harsh detergents, fragrances, or allergens. You can also use moisturizers that contain ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or colloidal oatmeal to soothe and hydrate your skin. You can also apply topical steroids or antihistamines to reduce itching and inflammation.
- Psoriasis: Stress can aggravate psoriasis, a condition that causes red, scaly, and sometimes painful plaques of skin. Stress can activate the immune system and cause inflammation, which can stimulate the growth of skin cells and result in thicker and more visible plaques. To prevent psoriasis flare-ups, try to avoid triggers such as alcohol, smoking, or infections. You can also use moisturizers that contain urea, lactic acid, or glycerin to soften and smooth your skin. You can also apply topical medications that contain corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, or coal tar to reduce inflammation and scaling.
- Rosacea: Stress can exacerbate rosacea, a condition that causes redness, flushing, and sometimes bumps or pustules on the face. Stress can increase blood flow to the skin and cause dilation of blood vessels, which can make rosacea more noticeable. To prevent rosacea flare-ups, try to avoid triggers such as spicy foods, hot drinks, or extreme temperatures. You can also use gentle cleansers and moisturizers that are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. You can also apply topical medications that contain metronidazole, azelaic acid, or ivermectin to reduce redness and inflammation.
- Hives: Stress can induce hives, a condition that causes raised, itchy, and sometimes burning welts on the skin. Stress can release histamine and other chemicals that cause an allergic reaction in the skin. To prevent hives, try to avoid triggers such as foods, medications, or insect bites that you are allergic to. You can also use antihistamines or corticosteroids to reduce itching and swelling.
- Dryness: Stress can dehydrate your skin by affecting your water balance and impairing your skin barrier function. Stress can also make you sweat more or drink less water. To prevent dryness, try to drink plenty of water and limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol. You can also use humidifiers or misters to add moisture to the air. You can also use moisturizers that contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or shea butter to lock in moisture and protect your skin barrier.
- Aging: Stress can accelerate the aging process of your skin by increasing oxidative stress and reducing collagen production. Stress can also cause you to frown more or sleep less. To prevent aging signs such as wrinkles, sagging, or dark circles, try to relax and smile more often. You can also get enough sleep and use eye masks or pillows to support your head. You can also use anti-aging products that contain antioxidants such as vitamin C or E, retinoids such as retinol or tretinoin, or peptides such as matrixyl or argireline.
The holiday season is a wonderful time to celebrate with your loved ones, but it can also be stressful for your skin. By following these tips and taking care of yourself physically and emotionally, you can enjoy the holidays without compromising your skin health.
Treat yourself or a loved one to one of our fantastic skincare treatments such as a soothing Hydrafacial, relaxing massage, dermal filler, or spa package. Remember that your skin is a reflection of your inner state, and that by reducing stress, you can also improve your skin. Happy holidays!