We’ve all had those days when our skin just isn’t behaving like it should or looking like we wished it did. You wake up, take a look in the mirror and think about calling out of work for about 10 seconds before shrugging it off, layering on a good concealer and going about your day. In this case, General Hospital star Kirsten Storms (she plays Maxie Jones) isn’t shrugging it off. She just announced she’s taking temporary leave from her role on the show to deal with her skin issues, which has sparked a conversation on social media.
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New York dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, says the brain, skin and gut are very closely connected, so anxiety, depression or any stressful situation can absolutely have a significant impact on the entire body, but most notably on the skin and digestion. “Stress by itself is typically not the sole cause of an issue; it is usually just one factor or one part of a larger picture. Some people have what we call ‘target organs’ for their stress. For example, in one person, stress may show up as migraines because it affects their brain. In another person, it may manifest as diarrhea or an ulcer because stress affects their stomach or GI tract (gastrointestinal tract). Stress can also show up as acne, psoriasis or a skin condition when it is affecting their skin. Personally in my office, the conditions that I see most frequently associated with stress include acne, psoriasis, hair loss and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and alopecia areata, as well as nail disorders.”
If you are suffering from breakouts as an adult, whether they’re stress-induced or not, Dr. Bowe says using a retinol every night can help, as it works to speed up cell turnover and unclog pores. “I also usually recommend using an exfoliating scrub (I like dr. brandt’s PoreDermabrasion) or at-home peel once a week to slough away dead skin cells and even out skin texture,” adds Dr. Bowe. “Also, women in their 30s [Storms is 32] typically have a hormonal component to their acne, so they might benefit from birth control pills or other hormonal medications such as spironolactone. One of my favorite topical prescriptions for this age group is Aczone gel. Lastly, diet and stress can definitely play a role in this age group, so I recommend loading up your diet with lots of antioxidants and immune-boosting probiotics, as well as developing stress management techniques including yoga, meditation and regular exercise.”
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