Stress and Skin: Are They Related?

Jenna Hilton
June 22, 2023

In today’s fast-paced environment, stress affects many individuals and their health. While most people are familiar with the toll stress takes on their mental and emotional wellbeing, the impact of stress on their physical health, specifically the skin, is often overlooked.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and serves as a protective barrier against external factors and maintains overall health. However, prolonged stress can induce many skin issues or worsen existing ones, such as acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. These conditions can lead to discomfort, pain, and self-esteem issues.

This article explains how stress affects the skin, lists the most common skin conditions caused by stress and offers ways to treat them.

The relationship between stress and skin

How Does Stress Affect Your Skin?

Stress causes a chemical response that makes skin more sensitive to outside factors. When you are under stress, the body starts producing cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol causes the skin glands to produce more oil, leading to many skin issues.

Note: The negative effects of chronically elevated cortisol levels don't stop at the skin. Learn how to lower cortisol levels naturally and solve issues such as sleep disturbances, hormonal weight gain, anxiety, depression, and many others.

Stress makes the skin look irritated, dry, or tired and can also make existing skin conditions worse. Stress is also responsible for increasing the speed at which collagen and elastin break down, interfering with rejuvenation and healing and promoting premature aging.

Note: Learn more about the relationship between stress and hormones and how it reflects on the entire body, not just the skin.

What Does Stressed Skin Look Like?

Here is a list of skin conditions typically caused by stress.


Acne is the most common skin condition induced by stress. When we are under a lot of stress, our skin tends to break out in acne since stress causes an imbalance in sebum production. Excess sebum clogs the pores and slows down the healing process, prolonging existing conditions and causing new outbreaks.

Note: Learn about the common causes of acne in our article What Causes Acne.

Dry Skin

Stress negatively affects the skin’s ability to retain water. Stress also triggers adrenaline and cortisol production, making you sweat more and causing loss of water and electrolytes. As a result, the skin becomes itchy and dry.

Note: Learn about IV fluids for dehydration.

Inflamed Skin

Stress is a known cause of inflammation in the body, which leads to skin conditions such as rashes, psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea. Cortisol can also cause hives, an autoimmune disease that includes symptoms such as rash, itchiness, redness, and swelling of the skin.

Under-Eye Bags

Stress usually causes sleep deprivation, which leads to loss of skin elasticity. Since the skin under the eyes is thin and sensitive, the effects of stress and lack of sleep are more pronounced here. They cause fine lines, puffiness, uneven pigmentation, and weakness of the muscles around the eyes.

Note: Learn more about under-eye fillers.


Stress hormones slow down the body’s ability to produce collagen and elastin and increase their degradation. This results in premature aging, fine lines, and wrinkles. In addition, stress causes facial reactions such as frequent frowning, which makes wrinkles more pronounced.

How to Treat Stressed Skin?

How to treat stressed skin

Luckily, there are many ways to treat stressed skin, from improved lifestyle habits to medical treatments.

1. Sleep

This advice is often overlooked, but getting enough sleep significantly improves the skin by speeding up the healing process. In contrast, sleep deprivation causes premature aging and can worsen skin conditions.

2. Exercise

Exercise helps reduce stress and anxiety that affect your skin. It also reduces inflammation and improves circulation, which results in better-looking and glowing skin.

Note: Learn about IV therapy for glowing skin.

3. Diet

Processed foods high in sugar and salt cause inflammation in the body, which negatively affects the skin. To prevent this, adopt a healthier diet rich in vitamin B, fatty acids, and magnesium to reduce inflammation and help the body respond to stress.

Note: Essential nutrients are most easily and effectively absorbed if administered via an IV drip. For nutritional IV therapy in Phoenix, come to Vibrant Vitality Clinic.

For an extra helping hand, consult your healthcare provider about nutritional supplements for stress. Many of those supplements, such as Relora, are natural and consist of extracts of plants that possess anxiolytic and cortisol-lowering effects.

4. Yoga and Meditation

Yoga and meditation improve mental and emotional wellbeing and restore balance in the body. They can reduce blood pressure and relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Feeling good inside manifests in brighter skin and a rejuvenated appearance.

5. Skincare Routine

Rigorously sticking by your skincare routine is the best way to improve your skin and make it more resistant to outside factors. While they don’t remove stress from the body, good-quality skincare products treat the symptoms and contribute to healthier-looking skin from the outside.

The best skincare regimen is based on your skin type and determined by your dermatologist or a medical professional. Skincare ingredients such as ceramides, retinol, and peptides help the skin retain moisture and boost collagen production while slowing down the aging process and reducing fine lines.

Note: Check out the ultimate skin care guide for healthy and glowing skin.

6. Regular Facials

Hydrating facials help the skin retain moisture and prevent excessive sebum production that leads to breakouts. Frequent facials also promote the production of collagen, reducing fine lines and erasing the signs of premature aging commonly caused by stress.

For the best results in glowing and rejuvenated skin, try our personalized Vibrant Signature Facial.

Note: Find out the various benefits of collagen for the skin.

7. Laser Treatments

Lasers are an effective method for removing the damage to the skin caused by stress. The intense light and heat energy of laser devices penetrates deep skin layers, improving texture and pigmentation by speeding up cellular regeneration and breaking down melanin.

Note: For laser treatments in the Phoenix area, book a session at Vibrant Skin Bar.

8. Chemical Peel

A chemical peel improves skin tone and texture by removing the top skin layers. These are then replaced by new and undamaged skin. During your chemical peel consultation, make sure to share your exact skin issues and goals with your aesthetician for the most satisfying results.

9. Microneedling

Microneedling is a minimally invasive procedure that triggers the skin’s healing process and boosts collagen production. It resolves skin issues such as fine lines, pigmentation, and acne scars. For smoother and tighter skin, schedule a consultation for microneedling at Vibrant Skin Bar.

Note: In an innovative approach, Vivace microneedling face rejuvenation combines the collagen-boosting properties of microneedling and with radio frequencies and LED light for a prolonged effect.

10. Buccal Massage

When we are stressed, the muscles on our face tend to tense. Buccal massage is a new type of massage that effectively releases tension in the lower face, improves circulation and lymphatic drainage, and reduces puffiness and dark circles under the eyes. Buccal massage also helps clear acne breakouts by freeing the face of toxin buildup.

Note: Vibrant Skin Bar offers Lymphatic Lift, a brand-new facial that includes lymphatic drainage and intraoral massage. Try it out and experience a facelift without needles.

When Should You See a Doctor?

If your skin condition is worsening or the symptoms are not going away, you should consult a dermatologist. They will recommend the best treatment plan based on your medical history, symptoms, and overall health.

Conditions such as psoriasis, hives, and eczema are best treated by a professional instead of on your own since treating them wrongly can prolong the condition and cause other complications.


Chronic stress disrupts skin health and causes many uncomfortable conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, and hives. Stress management is crucial for maintaining healthy and radiant skin. Seeking professional help from a dermatologist or a medical professional provides valuable guidance for treating specific skin conditions caused by stress.

Jenna Hilton
Jenna Hilton has been a practicing PA since 2009, specializing in Family, Internal Medicine and Medical Aesthetics. She attended Arizona State University where she received her Bachelor's Degree and graduated magna cum laude. She received her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant Studies from A.T. Still University.

Jenna has been injecting neurotoxin and dermal filler since 2013. She received certification as a Master Injector in 2017 through Empire Medical in Los Angeles, California. She is currently working on a Fellowship Program in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine through the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. Her special interests include use of PLLA, Ablative/Non ablative skin resurfacing, PDO threads, hormone therapy and nutritional therapies to improve cellular regeneration and medically supervised weight loss.

Jenna Hilton believes in a multi-factorial approach, considering internal factors that accelerate aging and disease development. She always enjoys teaching. She co-founded Vibrant EDU courses at Vibrant Skin Bar and regularly performs one-on-one training with fellow injectors. She teaches Aesthetic and Advanced Injectable Courses at National Laser Institute. She has been named Preceptor of the Year and is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Midwestern University. She was born in Iowa, and lives with her husband and three children in Phoenix, AZ.

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