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Does Stress Have an Effect on Your Hair and Skin?


What is Stress?


If there's one thing I can say, the last year and a half have not been what a lot of us were expecting. From a global pandemic to a variety of tragedies and so much more, it's truly been quite emotionally taxing and stressful to say the least. Stress is anything that our body perceives as a threat either physically, emotionally or psychologically which causes the brain to send certain chemicals throughout the body. Long story short, if you have ever felt like you were in fight or flight mode, you have experienced some form of stress.


Types of Stress


There are several different types of stress. Here are some of the types of stress that you might have experienced or encountered.


  1. Acute Stress: Acute stress is a very short lived type of stress. It's the body's immediate response to something positive or negative. For example, if you were to go sky diving, your body would immediately respond with either an adrenaline rush or with you being terrified. Once the feeling of danger or excitement is over, your body should return to it's normal state. We have all faced acute stress at some point in our lives.

  2. Chronic Stress: Chronic stress is when stress is present for an extended period of time. This type of stress is usually lingering and occurs from day to day. For example, if you have a stressful job, you are experiencing chronic stress. Chronic stress can also be linked to such things as unhappiness in relationships, poverty or anything that is constantly causing stress. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on us long term if not treated properly.

  3. Eposodic Acute Stress: Episodic Acute Stress is when a person is under constant acute stress. It is ongoing stress that has become a way of life. For example, if someone is consistently anxious over things that they think may happen but have not yet happened, they are experiencing eposodic acute stress. Another example of eposodic acute stress would be if a person has chaotic life experiences from day to day such as always rushing and feeling under pressure due to stressful deadlines or if they simply have too many responsibilities that cause them to feel overwhelmed.

Stress and its Effect on Hair and Skin

Stress affects us in a variety of ways. It affects us physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually. In addition, ongoing stress can greatly affect our hair and skin in a negative way. Here are some ways in which the hair and skin can be impacted by stress.


Hair

  1. Stress causes hair follicles to remain in the resting phase, which reduces hair growth.

  2. It has been said that stress can possibly cause alopecia areata. This is when the body's immune system ultimately attacks your hair follicles and results in either permanent or temporary hair loss.


Skin

  1. Stress can cause inflammation of the skin which can lead to flare-ups in skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne and atopic dermatitis.

  2. A disruption of the skin's protective barrier can be caused by stress. This could result in a difference in skin type. For example, someone who ordinarily has oily skin may find that their skin is more dry when they are experiencing stress.

Stress Management

Although we can not completely alleviate stress altogether, the goal is to be able to have the proper resources and knowledge to manage it the best way possible. Before stress can be managed properly, we must first identify our triggers or what causes us stress. A good way to do this is to pay attention to your interactions with people, experiences and things and document how they make you feel after your interaction. Here are a few ways that we can start to manage stress once we have identified the source of stress.

  1. Maintain a healthy diet and great eating habits. For example, we can minimize the amount of processed sugar we eat and opt for fresh fruit which also offers a bit of sweetness with natural sugars.

  2. Strive to get the recommended amount of sleep per night.

  3. Incorporate a daily exercise regimen that works for you. If you have a busy schedule and the thought of squeezing one more thing into your schedule overwhelms you, walking for just 15 minutes after a stressful moment or day may work better than trying to carve out long amounts of time for exercise.

  4. Prioritize self care activities.

  5. Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol.

If you are experiencing depression or stress that needs to be managed by a professional, here are some resources that may help.

  1. Better Help offers a network of licensed therapist at affordable rates.

  2. The Loveland Foundation is an organization that focuses on providing resources and tools to help black women and girls receive the mental health care that they need.

  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a helpline that is free of charge and confidential. They provide information and referrals for individuals battling with mental health and substance abuse.


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