It’s a widely known fact that stress can do a number on your body. It’s been linked to health problems like heart disease and cancer, and can also speed up the aging process. As if that wasn’t enough to make you pull out your yoga mat, we recently stumbled across a headline that claimed stress can also change the color of your skin. We had to know whether this was true or not so we reached out to our experts to find out.
While both of our experts helped calm our nerves, saying that stress doesn’t directly cause the color of our skin to change, they did say that it could change it indirectly. “Patients under stress can abuse or neglect their skin by not removing their make up, scratching or rubbing their skin,” says Smithtown, NY, dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD. “Rubbing causes inflammation in the skin, which in turn starts the inflammatory cascade, activating all kinds of cells, including melanocytes, that cause skin to get darker.”
San Antonio dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD, agrees adding that not only do stressed individuals neglect their skin, but they’re also more likely to pick at their skin and scratch more. “The trauma to the skin from picking, scratching or constant rubbing of the skin leads to an increase in color or hyperpigmentation. In some individuals, once the traumatized skin heals, there can also be loss of pigment or hyperpigmentation.”
In order to help keep your skin a uniform color, Dr. Peredo suggests finding methods to help minimize your stress-be it a massage or exercise. It’s also important to take care of your skin by cleansing and moisturizing daily. She also recommends products that contain alpha hydroxyl acid (AHAs) to help reduce discoloration and minimize fine lines and wrinkles.