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International Stress Awareness Week

Stress - the silent skin foe!

This week is International Stress Awareness Week - didn't realise? Don't worry - it nearly passed me by too! But with the world becoming an evermore stress-inducing place (I won't list the factors as we certainly don't need reminding right now) I feel that it's an important week to highlight and take note of.

You may well be aware that stress is detrimental for our overall health and wellbeing, but were you aware that is also has a very negative impact on our skin - causing us to age prematurely? When we get stressed, our bodies release stress hormones that negatively affect our skin. Cortisol is among the main culprits, promoting oil production in the skin, and leading to outbreaks in acne and spots. Stress, and the cortisol it results in, can also exacerbate rosacea and redness in the skin, making the symptoms of rosacea that much worse for those of us who suffer with it.

Last year, a study of 2000 Brits showed that more than a third of people said they felt stressed for one full day every week, and up to nine days each month. Another survey by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that in the UK, and probably elsewhere, too, women are 17 per cent more likely to feel stressed than men. Whilst it's not necessarily a surprise, it's not what we need to hear, is it?

I treat the effects of stress on the skin at my skin clinic in Needham Market, and I think it’s really important to look at ways we can deal with stress and protect our skin from premature, stress-related ageing.

There is a lot of evidence that stress can have an impact on the skin’s ageing process, increasing wrinkle formation and hyperpigmentation and speeding up the natural loss of elasticity in your skin, too. Broadly, there are two different types of ageing that our skin undergoes;

Intrinsic: these are the natural changes that take place over time, often as a result of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ genes.

Extrinsic: things that can be influenced by our behaviour and environment, for example UVA and UVB damage, pollution, our diet, getting enough sleep, stress and general health.

When you come to see me, whether it’s a first visit or a repeat appointment, you’ll probably notice that I ask you lots of questions. This is all to help me understand your behaviours, state of mind and lifestyle, all things that will give me an idea about how stressed you are.

You might not think your skin is affected by daily stress but it most likely is! Although this helps me find the right treatments for you and gives me a head start on improving your skin’s condition, there are also effectiveness and safety concerns - in some cases, a client’s mental state can even determine how they react to a treatment. If you’re highly stressed when you arrive for an appointment or are going through a really stressful time in general, it could affect the way you react to some treatments, like chemical peels, because stress can compromise your skin barrier.

Whilst I won't bombard you with stress-management tips, because I feel that we're often hit with constant feelings that we're not managing our stress effectively through habits such as yoga and journaling, please know that if you're feeling stressed and your skin is suffering as a result, I am always here to offer advice and to help you in any way I can.

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