The skin is our largest organ and can really take a beating both externally and internally from us. When we have problems with our skin – whether it be eczema, psoriasis, acne or rosacea for example it also acts as a little lightbulb that something is out of balance in our body.
The hard thing can be trying to figure out what EXACTLY is out of balance – so it can be a journey! And often a stressful one as many people hold off seeking help for their skin conditions hoping they will just “go away” (been there, done that!).
The problem with skin conditions is we generally can’t hide them very well from others– especially over summer if your problem areas are on your arms or legs, and wearing makeup 24/7 (if you’re a girl) isn’t going to help clear your skin up any quicker!
Recent research done by The Jojoba Company (you know I love jojoba) showed some interesting statistics – 56% of people are experiencing ongoing problems with their skin, 37% say it has affected their confidence, 13% say it has left them depressed and 39% say stress is a major irritation for their skin.
Stress can really wreak havoc on our skin by its activation of our endocrine and immune systems.
Our brain and skin communicate and connect with each other. Stress predominately has a negative effect on skin via the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. This stress response in the body happens two ways – we have a central stress response (the body's normal reaction to stress and the signals that are happening internally lead from our brain) and an additional skin peripheral stress response – here there are things actually happening in the nerve endings, blood vessels and glands on the skin.
When we are really stressed this sends signals within our body to create more hormones, such as cortisol (produced both in the adrenal cortex and at skin level) which is the bodies major stress hormone, which then can directly affect our skin by increasing sebum production (which can then clog our pores), increasing inflammation and compromising our immune system. Stress also increases inflammation in our bodies by releasing the neuropeptide Substance P.
Chronic skin conditions including acne, eczema and psoriasis themselves are quite stressful, so trying to tell someone to “relax” with their skin is not an easy thing to do! When treating skin conditions along with work on gut health (the gut-skin axis is a topic for another discussion!), lymphatic congestion, immune support, good skincare products and diet – I always do a lot of work on supporting this HPA axis, reducing stress and looking at lifestyle support where possible.
Skin really is a complex organ and often needs a lot of nurturing!
My advice to you if you are experiencing any chronic skin conditions is to sit down with someone like myself to really look at the BIGGER picture - more often than not a multifaceted approach is needed to bring your body back in balance.