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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.
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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