Every time 20-year Natasha feels anxious, she breaks out. Young mike suffers from a dry scalp when he's worked up. Have you ever experienced any skin problems when nervous? If you have, here's probably why. A new study, published in the journal Acta Dermato-Venereologica, warns that psychological stress can be associated with skin complaints such as itchy skin and flaky patches on the scalp.
The study aimed to assess the relationship between perceived psychological stress and the prevalence of various skin symptoms in a large sample of undergraduate students. "Previous studies have demonstrated an association between stress and skin symptoms, but those studies relied on small patient samples, or focused their analyses on a single skin disease," said corresponding author of the study Gil Yosopovitch from Temple University in Philadelphia, US.
For the study, over 400 undergraduate-aged patients were divided into groupings labeled as low stress, moderate stress and high stress. The high stress group suffered significantly more often from itchy skin, hair loss, oily, waxy or flaky patches on the scalp, troublesome sweating, scaly skin, nail biting, itchy rash on hands, and hair pulling. "These findings further suggest that non-pharmacologic therapeutic interventions should be considered for patients presenting with both skin conditions and heightened levels of psychological stress," Yosipovitch noted.
Previous studies have shown that your emotions can impact your skin. This is because a lot of nerve endings are connected to the skin and so when your brain makes you feel something it may be expressed through the skin just how you get anxious when tensed or your heart beats faster. Experts have named this new field as "psychodermatology." Episodes of stress can release certain hormones and trigger autoimmune reactions that can cause skin problems and even hair loss.
"Our findings highlight the need for health care/dermatology providers to ask these patients about their perceived levels of psychological stress. Disease flare or exacerbation while on treatment in the setting of increased stress may not necessarily reflect treatment failure," Yosipovitch noted.