How Stress Affects Pre-Existing Skin Conditions

Stressed woman looking in the mirror How Stress Affects Pre-Existing Skin Conditions

Your skin’s health is linked to other factors within your body, so taking care of your skin isn’t always just a surface level concern. Stress and other emotional factors can make certain pre-existing conditions flare up or become more severe. Learn what you can do to handle stress and its impact on your skin.

What to Know About Stress and Skin

Stress and Our Skin

Your mental health can be impacted by skin problems like acne or other embarrassing cosmetic problems. The effects of skin conditions on our self esteem are well-documented and very real. What some people may not realize, however, is how stress can actually negatively affect the skin. When a person undergoes a stressor, their body reacts in a number of ways. Sustained stress, from things as simple as organizing a holiday party to dealing with grief, can cause some pre-existing conditions to flare up or intensify. Stress triggers the body’s natural defenses and releases hormones and other chemicals. There are a number of things our body does when it’s stressed that are unrelated to hormonal changes though. Body temperature elevates during stress. Many people sweat when they’re stressed. Factors like this can trigger a variety of other skin conditions. Dealing with stress-triggered flare ups of common skin conditions can be difficult, but treating the underlying stress can reduce the appearance of these cosmetic issues.


Rosacea is a chronic skin condition that largely affects the skin on a person’s face, most notably on and around the nose. Rosacea can lead to permanent facial redness, dry skin, and visible blood vessels in the cheeks. The condition can also lead to a buildup of skin around and on the nose, leading to an enlarged nose. In rare cases, rosacea can impact your vision negatively. Rosacea has many triggers, but stress is one of the main factors that can cause a flare up. Stress and anxiety can trigger an inflammatory response in your skin, which exacerbates rosacea and makes things worse.


As we’ve learned, stress causes surges of hormones and other natural substances that our body uses to protect itself from possible danger. Cortisol, the main hormone associated with stress, can actually be a major creator of oil or sebum. Acne begins in the sebaceous glands, where excess oil, bacteria, and dirt on the surface of the skin all combine to create blocked pores or pimples. Like rosacea, acne is an inflammatory condition that is also triggered and made worse by inflammation. As we know, anxiety and stress cause higher levels of inflammation in the body.


Intense anxiety and stress can trigger rashes that aren’t even related to a preexisting condition. Eczema is a condition that’s related to chronic rashes, but they can crop up regardless of whether or not you’re diagnosed with the condition. Constant, maintained stress can lead to rashes that are the result of surging cortisol levels. Rashes are often slightly raised, red, and splotchy patches of itchy, irritated skin. Rashes can be relatively small or cover a large part of the body. While rashes go away on their own in almost all cases, it’s important to first control stress and then seek advice from a dermatologist. They can determine whether your rashes are linked with eczema or just caused by high stress. It can go either way, so finding the answer sooner rather than later may help you find the right treatment and what works for you.

Stress is a part of life, and it’s perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed sometimes. Don’t allow stress to irritate your skin; call the professionals at Northeast Dermatology Associates today for advice on managing stress and your skin’s health.

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