Stress as a cause of many skin diseases and methods of reducing it.
In these modern times, much is said about ‘civilization diseases’, which are often the result of prolonged stress. We know that stress is the cause of many ailments, however, most of us don’t follow doctors’ recommendations to slow down the pace of life or use simple relaxation techniques. The truth is, we misunderstand the concept of stress. When we are experiencing stress, we often have changes in our appetites; we can suffer from sleep disorders when we are worried about something. There are various types of neuralgia, or pain, that are theoretically caused by ‘nothing’. Stress does not always cause nervousness and hot flashes, sometimes it simply prevents us from thinking correctly about our problems. If we do not follow the guidelines of occupational and sleep hygiene, sooner or later our body will start working differently because it will be “stressed”.
It is important to know that the relationship between poor skin conditions and psychological problems stem from the same mediators, i.e. substances that conduct impulses for the immune, nervous, and skin systems. In these cases, a holistic approach is the best way to get healthy and beautiful skin.
I struggled with a skin disease that I treated with a dermatologist, allergist, also in consultation with a cosmetic, dietitian and psychologist.
Skin problems directly related to the patient’s mental state.
The most common dermatological disease is acne, which affects 85-100% of the population (of different ages). It appears unpredictably and has a significant impact on the patients’ frustration. The immediate cause of acne is excessive seborrhea, abnormal keratinization, and colonization of sebaceous glands by P. acnes. The activity of sebaceous glands is regulated by nerve and hormonal factors (e.g. during puberty). Chronic stress stimulates the growth and increased activity of the sebaceous gland.
Stress is also a key pathogenetic element in the development of many other skin diseases. This is due to the presence of neuropeptide receptors on cells of the immune system. Chronic psychological stress leads not only to the activation of sebaceous glands but also to the increased secretion of adrenal androgens and stimulation of the production of cytokines (inflammatory mediators). These cytokines cause the secretion of histamine, which causes itching of the skin and is manifested in more frequent contact urticaria. Unfortunately, this affliction causes the wheel to circulate, as stress increases, so does the production of cytokines that release histamine and results in itching, which causes irritability, shallow sleep, even more stress, and the wheel keeps turning.
Atopic dermatitis (AD), psoriasis, and alopecia areata are other skin diseases that are highly associated with our well-being and mental health. They are classified as psychosomatic diseases. Their symptoms increase during prolonged stress and, as in urticaria or acne, while they are not life-threatening diseases, they often reduce the quality of life. AD is also strongly associated with the immune system, and as noted above, is related to the nervous system. There are many scientific articles that recommend various types of relaxation techniques for the treatment of AD.
What can we do to protect ourselves from chronic stress and as a result feel and look better?
Just “resting” is not enough because most of us don’t really rest. We need to learn how to rest by gradually adding various relaxation techniques, music therapy, aromatherapy, or massages.
Starting with home care, we should use cosmetics whose application requires a short self-massage, e.g. face and body oils. Even a few minutes of auto-massage during the application of the cosmetic will improve the appearance of the skin. Gentle peels including salt and body brushes improve blood circulation. A noticeable improvement in skin tone, thanks to massaging, can significantly improve our mood.
The next step is music, preferably relaxing, which we can find on the Internet, from Tibetan bowls, the flute, to the sounds of the forest.
We can also meditate at home. For many years, scientific research has been conducted to learn how meditation affects mental health. These studies found that meditation effectively reduces stress, improves mood, and helps treat depression and eating disorders such as bulimia or anxiety.
How does meditation reduce stress? Regular practice of meditation changes the activity and structure of brain regions involved in the development of mental diseases (which are directly related to stress). This happens by influencing our focus on the present and less on our own emotions or stimuli received by the body. Meditation can result in a change in our basic mental processes, such as increased concentration and mental performance. At the same time, it can help with our emotional processing, thus resulting in a less distorted self-perception. These positive results occur not only during meditation itself but also between sessions. Observation of the brain shows that meditation affects changes in activity in the network of basic excitations, the so-called DMN (Default Mode Network), more precisely, it reduces the phenomenon of wandering thoughts. Wandering thoughts are simply a lack of focus when we can’t stop thinking about something we can’t influence at the moment. Wandering thoughts also occur when we are thinking about something that is not related to our current task, “we have our heads in the clouds”. When we need to focus on solving a problem the attention network is activated, the so-called DAN (Dorsal Attention Network). The important role of meditation is, therefore, to get rid of wandering of thoughts and emotional approaches to assessing the situation. Meditation, simply speaking, allows us to accept ourselves as we are and to stop worrying about things that we have no influence on. In addition, meditation makes our brains more effective, which increases self-acceptance and reduces stress.
There are various forms of meditation. At the beginning of our practice, we can choose the method of zazen meditation, which consists of sitting for 10-20 minutes in the correct position. We don’t set any expectations but rather simply sit with our eyes closed. We try to focus on our breaths, which can be counted to ten and back. The second good introductory method is the guiding visualization method. During meditation, we listen to recordings of some scenery. This method gives very good relaxation effects immediately. Many recordings are publicly available on the web.
Home aromatherapy is also very effective and inexpensive. Essential oils have great power because their substances are volatile, get into the body through the nostrils, and get into the blood quickly. Fragrances greatly affect the subconscious, they decide whether we eat something, enter a specific room, or decide on a specific purchase. We can choose aromatherapy oils that are pleasing to us and have specific advantages. Studies have shown that rose oil stimulates the central nervous system and affects our dreams, making them longer and clearer. Rose oil also increases our ability to concentrate. In contrast, lavender oil has a calming effect, which has also been proven. Just turn on the diffuser or dissolve the wax in the scented fireplace with the selected blend of essential oils. We can also use aromatherapy in a warm bath. In this case, a few drops of oil should be added to the bathtub.
When choosing relaxation techniques outside the home, we should choose facial or body massage. Massage is an unrivaled form of relaxation that many people like. After a massage, we are rested, relaxed, and satisfied because we have done something good for ourselves.
The massage relaxes the fascia (their structures contain nerve endings), removes muscle tension, reduces the pain of various origins, and improves blood supply to the skin, which affects its color and faster metabolism. If I were to recommend a special massage, it would be a Kassaji facial massage. It is made of volcanic stone, basalt, which is manually polished. Its task is to reduce swelling caused by lymph stasis, which gives lifting effects. The massage itself is extremely relaxing, followed by visibly more beautiful and luminous skin. In Warsaw, such a massage is performed by a great cosmetologist, Anna Grela. In her Beauty Workshop, apart from massage, we can use the auto massage course for self-massage at home.
The saying “healthy body, healthy mind” has a lot of truth. Mental health has a direct impact on physical health and thus on our appearance. Physical health impacts mental health as well – when we are physically unwell, we often become stressed and suffer its resulting consequences. To help ourselves quickly and effectively, we only need a few simple methods that do not require much financial input or time. Twenty minutes a day for meditation and a pleasant fragrance of essential oils while listening to relaxing music while we’re at home does not require much self-discipline. When our health is at stake, we must learn to really rest and take care of ourselves both mentally and physically. A relaxing massage at our favorite beauty salon will result in a sort of bliss. A bliss that will pay off with a fresh, youthful and healthy look.
A cosmetic that is perfect for skin problems and its fragrance will improve your mood. In the application, 100% of women confirmed that their application is pleasant and improves their mood!
Take care of yourself!