Is Stress Really That Bad For Your Skin?


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It’s kind of hard to find many fans of stress. I mean, what’s to like about the thing that makes you eat more (and eat worse), sleep badly, and generally walk around with a knot in your stomach and a mile-long to-do list? Well, it turns out that if you’re someone who suffers from certain skin issues, a little stress might in fact be helping you.

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Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, studied mice with skin inflammation, such as eczema or contact dermatitis. Groups exposed to short-term stress (by being briefly confined) experienced a reduction in inflammation and improvements in skin’s barrier function and hydration, compared with nonstressed mice. Psychological stress triggers the release of anti-inflammatory cortisone, which may help the body overcome acute trauma or illness, says Peter M. Elias, a professor of dermatology at UCSF. It’s chronic stress that’s harmful: When stress hormones remain elevated, they suppress the immune system and thus weaken the skin’s barrier function, Elias says.

By Maddie Aberman  Reporting by Kristin Sainani

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