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Managing Stress Can Help Clients Improve Their Skin Conditions

Posted: August 16, 2011

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To help patients combat stress-aggravated skin conditions, Fried recommends that appropriate stress management strategies be used in conjunction with traditional dermatologic therapies. These strategies include psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, hypnosis, tai chi, yoga, antidepressants and beta blockers. Fried noted that stress management makes patients feel more empowered and in control, which can make them more likely to comply with a treatment plan for their skin condition and see improvement.

“In my practice, I find that patients with chronic skin conditions tend to withdraw from normal, everyday activities and sometimes shut down emotionally, which can really impact their personal lives,” said Fried. “In addition, when you are withdrawn and have more time alone, it can make your symptoms seem more pronounced and you can end up feeling worse. That's why it is so important for patients to seek a treatment plan from their dermatologist to help reduce their stress level and break the cycle of stress-related flares.”

Fried added that the skin barrier function, which is the skin's protective outer layer, can be impaired by stress as well. Stress can make the skin more permeable, more sensitive and more reactive, which is why dermatologists recommend the use of over-the-counter moisturizers to enhance the skin barrier function. If stress compromises the skin's barrier function, more irritants, allergens, and bacteria can penetrate the skin and cause problems. Specifically, stress can make a person's rosacea more red or acne lesions more inflamed and more persistent. It can worsen hives, fever blisters, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.

“Visiting a dermatologist can provide patients with hope and a treatment plan for their skin problem,” said Fried. “A simple explanation as to the cause and treatment of a patient's skin condition can decrease their level of distress. Alleviating or minimizing stress goes a long way in improving their overall health.”