The Skin and Anxiety Connection


If you’re feeling overly anxious, your skin can be affected — not just your heart and other internal organs. According to a study by the University of California in 2001, psychodermatologic disorders affect both your mind and your external organ: skin. This 19-year-old study still has relevance today for those who experience skin flare-ups in tandem with stress and other mental-health-related disorders.

There are three major types of psychodermatologic disorders:

  • Psychophysiologic disorders: These disorders are related to emotional states and not necessarily the mind in general; this includes eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne and more.
  • Primary psychiatric disorders: A person could experience self-induced “cutaneous manifestations,” which include trichotillomania and parasitosis delusions.
  • Secondary psychiatric disorders: These can be triggered by low self-esteem, depression, social
  • phobia and other anxiety disorders.

If you have a psychophysiologic disorder, such as eczema (more common in children) and psoriasis (more common in adults), you could experience itchy patches on your face, scalp, arms, legs, hands, the creases of your elbows and knees and other areas. While stress may not be the direct cause of your skin disease, it can significantly make it worse. Here are some ways you can keep your skin at its healthiest, even during periods of moderate to high stress:

Stop scratching the bothersome area.​

If you’re feeling stressed, you may engage in the “itch-scratch cycle” to alleviate the itching of your skin disorder. If you have panic or anxiety attacks, you could subconsciously scratch your eczema or psoriasis. Even you may not realize that you are doing it. Become more conscious of your scratching and try to leave your spot alone. Use relaxation methods, exercise and music to help keep your mind off your itchy spot and your anxiety at bay.

Use a medicated cream.

Consult your dermatologist or use a natural, over-the-counter product. Your dermatologist will prescribe non-addictive medications to help relieve the symptoms of your skin disorder. In addition, a physician may also prescribe anti-anxiety medications or other natural remedies. If you live in a cold climate, your skin may be more susceptible to flare-ups, so always moisturize, according to

Be aware of your allergies.​

If you use laundry detergents, lotions and other household and toiletry items that irritate your skin, then discontinue their use. If you’re stressed and also have a reaction to a product, then your psychophysiologic disorder could worsen. Use gloves with cleaning products. In addition, pets can also cause skin allergies.

Seek help with your stress.

If you can’t get your stress in check, consider talking with a mental-health professional than can help ease your mind — and your psychophysiologic disorder. There are many platforms that can help you work through your stress, which can also keep your skin at its healthiest. Talk with someone while you’re on the go or in between lathering cream on your eczema.

Decrease your stressors. ​

Do the activities you enjoy, like your favorite hobbies, including Star Trek online creative writing. Take care of your mind, body and spirit. Meditate and exercise. After a good sweat, though, take extra care of your skin by cleansing it. Practice self-love, which will help to reduce stress in your life from work, family and other responsibilities.

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