How Stress and the Gut Can Impact the Skin

How Stress and the Gut Can Impact the Skin

I am sure we have all felt the stress that has been bestowed upon us in the last two years, and the impact it has on the skin is devastating. There are many channels that stress can and will have affect, the nervous system, Immune system, ageing, pulmonary system and the skeletal system. In this blog, I focus on the digestive system and the impact stress has on the skin.

The brain and the skin are connected on many different levels, we have a deep and powerful connection of the skin mind and gut. There are so many nerve endings that are connected to the skin which wrap around our organs. So as the symphony of emotions are released neurologically, they will be expressed through the skin. The same way stress can be expressed through gastrointestinal symptoms, it can increase anxiety.

In stressful situations the mind will perceive stresses that can slow down how our digestive system, and longer the stress lasts the more impact it can have. There are studies that show high levels of stress can affect the gut bacteria in a similar way that a high fat diet affects the bacteria. Unhealthy gut bacteria increases inflammation and will have a huge impact on how nutrients are absorbed. Now we have been learning for sometime now how the gut bacteria will affect the skin bacteria.

Add to this the chemical responses that are released into our bodies by the elevated cortisol which can create more skin sensitivity, with an increase in histamine.

Hives or welts which are raised lesions and red in colour are often caused by stress related conditions. Because these lesions appear when someone is highly stressed they are often labelled stress rashes. They can have a strong itch which can lead to infection. The infection occurs when the area is continually being scratched with fingernails that creates a break in the skin. This gives bacteria a portal of entry an environment they love and the infection begins. The rash may last anytime from a few days to several weeks.

Psoriasis and eczema can both be exaggerated by elevated stress. There are so many theories as to why people present with both these conditions but it is well documented that in stress can be a triggering factor. There are studies that confirm both psoriasis and eczema are gut related, combing this with elevated cortisol the .conditions seem to worsen.

If a person has an outbreak of one of these disorders and they are stressed, it will take longer for the skin to recover.

Stress will also have a huge impact on wound healing. If someone is stressed they will have prolonged wound repair.

Always try and understand the stress levels of your clients before you perform invasive treatments, if they are highly stressed then there is a chance you will not have a healthy repair of the skin.

Stress is in everyone's life at some time. As therapists we need to understand the ramifications of the impact stress has on the skin.

Yours in skin,

Gay Wardle

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