Do you feel like your skin has lost its youthful appearance? Or maybe that it has aged beyond what should be?

You swear that you diet is good, you sleep reasonably and exercise a few time a month…but still it’s not enough. That, my friend, is likely the hidden effect that stress has on your body.

From the invisible changes to blood vessels and hormone levels, to the external slow degradation of your skin appearance, if there is a malady, stress is a possible cause.

If you’re a woman, the effect on your skin can be quite a bit more alarming; in fact, unabated stress levels can result in the following:

1 – Acne – think acne is a thing of the past? You could be shocked to discover that stress can precipitate new breakouts in your adult years.

The stress hormone, cortisol, has the uncanny ability to disrupt the normal levels of other hormones, which can lead to many new breakouts. And this acne is not restricted to your face; occurrence on the back and chest are also very likely and unsightly.

2 – Dry Flaky Skin – if you’re among the millions that can’t seem to find a cure for their dry skin problem, even though you may be guzzling water by the drum full, the silent danger that is stress may be at play.

The stress hormone cortisol is able to disrupt water balance of cells, in this case, pulling water out of skin cells, leaving them shrivelled, dry and crackly.

3 – Fine lines – 9 out of 10 times, people do not see the relationship between stress levels and appearance of fine lines, although common sense would dictate that they do have a link. Well surprise- they do. But not in the way your mind may be thinking.

Rather, it is related to cortisol effect on blood glucose levels; which after frequent raises in sugar levels, a process named glycation is accelerated. This damages the collagen and elastin found in skin, two structural proteins which keep skin plump and flexible.

Glycation is accelerated by tensed facial muscles and does occur normally with aging, but at a slower rate than with the effects of cortisol.

4 – Increases Risk of Skin Cancer – stress combines with lots of UV sunlight puts you at a much greater risk of developing skin cancer, according to studies conducted as Johns Hopkins and Yale Universities.

The study also concluded that people diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, had more than likely experienced extremely stressful life events in the few years preceding diagnosis of the condition.

5 – Dull, Flat Skin – quick science lesson for you- did you know the skin is entirely composed of dead cells? Yes, skin cells at the outermost layer is primarily dead, but are being constantly replaced by fresher, or more recently “died” cells.

During stressful sessions, this migration of cells from the lower layers to the top is slowed significantly, meaning that the current batch of dead cells are not replaced efficiently. The result is flat, dull skin which may also appear cracked.

6 – Blotchy Skin Rashes – some people experience stress related skin rashes without fully understand why is occurs. Allow me to straighten that out for you- under high stress, skin cells shrink, leaving exposed lower layers of lipids.

As these lipids begin drying out and evaporating under the influence of the weather, cracks forms that allows pathogenic organisms into the skin membrane.

Also, since skin is our primary defense against invading micro-organisms, infections can fester quickly and degrade the appearance of your skin.


Stress is something that must be managed. Long gone are the days when stress was believed to be “imaginary” as the effects are well documented through generations. The effect that stress has on skin is merely skimming the surface of the greater problem.