Stress - the Silent Ageing Accelerator

Stress is something we are bombarded with advice about on every day of the week. We all know how bad being stressed can be for our overall health and wellbeing, but did you know that being stressed could also have detrimental – and ageing - effects on your skin?

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. This really isn’t 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.

Stress has been described by the Mental Health Foundation as, ‘Our body’s response to pressures from a situation or life event.’ The simple truth is that when the body’s stress response is activated frequently or over a long period of time, the wear and tear on the body can be great, and of course that includes the skin. Stress can cause a chemical response that can make your skin more sensitive and can also make it harder for blemishes and injuries to heal. Some people also break out more when they are stressed, because of the production of cortisol, which helpfully tells the glands in your skin to produce more oil.

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.

If you are feeling stressed, a visit to Crystal Rose Skin Clinic will hopefully relax you – and relaxation is almost as good an anti-ageing strategy as an effective skincare treatment! If you need advice on dealing with the effects of stress on your skin, I’d be delighted to help.

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