STRESS and your skin

My skin has never given me any serious issues.  I’ve always been of the opinion that I kind of like my oily skin type, oil tends to keep the skin looking younger and wrinkle free for longer! I have also made peace with my skin’s hormonal hyper-pigmentation that’s been around for the past 8 years as well as the oily skin & breakouts well into my 30’s. At least it has motivated me to know about everything there is to know re the treatment of hyperpigmentation and to have loads of sympathy and advise for friends and clients suffering from the same skin issues.

Recently my skin has started acting out – almost like a toddler throwing a tantrum – totally out of control and all over the place.

It all started with a innocent general increase in oily skin, then a bout of acne type breakouts and the final straw was yet to come…Eczema like patches around my eyes, upper cheeks and along my hairline appeared out of nowhere!  A couple of days ago these patches got hot and swollen and I am sure people thought either 1. I had some hectic treatment done to my face 2. I had a heavy night of indulging in wine or 3. I have been crying all night.

Well, none of the above applied to me and the state that my skin was in…  This led me to seriously consider how my internal emotional state as well as my eating habits (for a future blog) during the past couple of months could have potentially caused all of this.  I will share some of my thoughts and discoveries…

How your emotional state can wreak havoc on your skin…

One of the best books that I have read on understanding the mind-body-spirit connection is: “Deadly emotions” by Dr Don Colbert, MD.


Bottom line:

“Medical research is showing more and more that there may be a mind-body connection to MOST diseases and ailments; not just a few.”

I loved what he says about emotions and the skin…

“I will never forget the words of one psychiatry professor in medical school.  He had previously been a dermatologist for a number of years and had treated countless psoriasis sufferers.  On one particular occasion I approached him and asked why he left the field of dermatology to study psychiatry.  He told me that his work as a dermatologist had led him to conclude that many individuals who were suffering with psoriasis and eczema were actually “weeping through their skin.” In other words, these people for one reason or another were unable to weep openly, even though they had experienced events that warranted a good cry.  They were releasing their sorrow through their skin, where it manifested itself in painful or irritating rashes.

Research has shown that outbreaks of psoriasis and eczema increase when a person is under stress.  Eczema has actually been called a “boiling” of the skin.  Stress worsens eczema.

If your body could talk, it no doubt would tell you through a skin disorder, “I can’t take any more of these stress-producing emotions”!”

I am not saying that skin conditions such as these can be attributed to only one’s emotional state – it is purely a contributing factor which also varies from person to person. But do ask yourself when you suffer from a bout of eczema, whether your stress levels have been higher than normal and/or whether you have experienced emotional trauma.  You might just find that they coincide.

THAT’S JUST GREAT – now I am stressed out and my skin is in a mess!!

Short term solution: Try and get to your dermatologist for a short term solution in the form of medication (internal or topical). STOP using any active cosmetics e.g. products containing VIT A/FRUIT ACIDS/High concentrations of anti-oxidants etc. Rather get yourself a cleanser and moisturiser for very sensitive skin conditions. I like Bioderma’s Sensibio range. Uriage also has products for sensitive and irritated skin.

I have tried these products…

Bioderma (Available at Dischem):

Soothing, Purifying Cleansing Gel R189.95

2015-05-16 15.53.26I like the fact that this cleansing gel foams up and gently and effectively removes all my make-up (including eye make-up). I can highly recommend it to anyone with sensitivity and combination to oily skin.

Water Cleanser R179.95

h2o_250This is one of my ALL TIME FAVOURITES.  The best eye make-up remover around and a great way to remove heavy make-up before your second cleanse.  I can highly recommend this product to anyone!

Cream R189.95


This day/night cream has a light cream/gel consistency.  I have an oily skin and still found it a bit too light for me.  It felt as if my skin being so irritated and flaky needed something with more moisture.  I will recommend this to anyone with sensitive and very oily skin or men who prefer a very light texture.

SkinMedica (available at Skin Renewal branches and other medical practises nationwide):

Redness Relief CalmPlex

skinmedica-redness-relief-calmplexThis is a product I thought I would personally never have to use.  Well, in skincare emergencies like I’m having you will try anything.  The cream has a rich texture and causes tingling upon application due to the active ingredients.  Although it has a heavy texture, it didn’t make my oily skin more oily and I actually enjoyed the comfort of cream.  This is a pricy product, but I can recommend this to anyone with red and sensitive skin conditions.

Long term solution:  Dr Colbert writes that we can actually get addicted to stress hormones like adrenaline and the “high” that it creates. Those addicted to stress hormones will constantly push themselves and chase different things to get that temporary emotional high. Being in an almost constant stressed state, reaks havoc on your body and can result in burnout. His advice is to stop and think for a moment what it is that you really desire in life and to start focusing on these things like: Peace of mind; joyful, simple pleasures; time with friends and loving family relationships and good health.

I am not a qualified life coach or psychologist, I do know that I do not want to wait until it’s too late in more ways than just the condition of my skin. I try to make time for things that I know (through trial and error) help me to de-stress like exercising, doing Pilates or just going out for a quick coffee. I also need to take the time to just focus on breathing properly when I feel my stomach goes into a knot or I get close to a panic attack. Even a glass of wine helps… But to be honest, once you start realising that having that glass of wine is not for the pure enjoyment of it but rather to relax (every night), then you might want to think about it again…

Dr Colbert further says about psoriasis, adult acne & stress:

“Many different studies have shown that stress, as well as other psychological factors, is associated with the onset and worsening of symptoms in patients with psoriasis. Psoriasis is like a volcano erupting from the pressure of unseen forces just below the surface of a person’s life. The body is releasing fear, frustration, anger, and other toxic emotions. The painful, itchy psoriasis flare-up is a strong signal of rebellion against the level of stress the person is experiencing.

The link between acne and stress is also well documented. Stress acne occurs more often in middle-aged women climbing the corporate ladder than in any other age and social-strata group. It also occurs commonly among those who are taking final exams, those who have high-stress jobs, and those who are rushing to meet a deadline.

Next time I will chat to you about your eating habits and the effect it has on YOUR SKIN!

Helene x x x