The Bad Skin Blues: How Struggles With Your Skin Can Impact Your Mental Health

Lucy Tombs

For many of us, the struggle with stress breakouts and acne is familiar. However, for some, the pain of acne can be more than just an annoyance that can be covered up with some concealer. For those who really suffer with their skin, these issues can truly affect their personal lives.

Whether this be through the physical pain associated with breakouts, or negative effects that acne can have on your mental health, skin can genuinely affect people’s self-esteem. This article hopes to provide some advice and tips to those dealing with skin stress, so that you can live your life without being bogged down by the bad skin blues.

Many of us tend to associate poor skin with our teenage years when our hormones are constantly shifting, and our bodies are perpetually changing. Many people are told that they will grow out of having ‘bad’ skin and that skin issues are solely a result of hormones and puberty.

However, when you reach the age where many people have seen their skin improve and yours doesn’t necessarily match up, this can be worrying. It can also inspire some real insecurity and embarrassment as we think we are the
minority experiencing these problems. In reality, adult acne is a lot more common than you might think.

Other statistics show that those who suffer with acne are 63% more likely to suffer from depression

In fact, a recent study commissioned by E45, has reported that 10 million people in the UK have mental health issues as a result of a skin condition. During this research, it was also uncovered that 26% of those who suffered from skin problems have stated that it makes them feel depressed.

Other statistics show that those who suffer with acne are 63% more likely to suffer from depression. These results highlighted the perturbing emotional impact created by issues encountered with our skin. Today’s population are constantly bombarded by images of celebrities and influencers who appear to have perfect skin, with the help of filters, expensive products and cosmetic surgery.

This, paired with the above statistics about those of us who experience troubles with acne and other skin conditions, demonstrates why it is so common for individuals to hate and scrutinize their own faces.

Who can you speak to about your skin problems?

Although the feelings we have towards our skin may feel impossible to overcome, there are specialists who can help. Today, a new branch of dermatology has emerged, this is Psychodermatology which focusses on the link between your skin and mind. 

Whilst this area of expertise remains less common and therefore can be harder to access, there are new emerging centres including at The Royal London Hospital, that can deal with these issues. If you can’t access a psychodermatologist, then speaking to a therapist or psychologist can also help with the emotional effect of skin problems.

If you would rather use professional resources to tackle the root of the skin problems, as opposed to the emotional effects, then going to your GP can be a good option. GPs can prescribe you medicated creams which may help your skin problems, alternatively they can refer you to a dermatologist who may work with you on a long-term basis to improve your skin.

Acne or flare-ups may be a result of stress, your diet, allergies, using the wrong products for your skin, or it could simply be your skin type and hormones

Bad skin action plan:

Before this article suggests ways to improve your skin, it is important to note that to develop an action plan on how to tackle your acne you should always consult a doctor or dermatologist. That being said, below are some top tips for identifying the causes of your skin problems and using action to change your skin for the

Pinpointing the cause of your issues is important, acne or flare-ups may be a result of stress, your diet, allergies, using the wrong products for your skin, or it could simply be your skin type and hormones. So, let’s dive into the specifics of what can trigger your skin issues?

  • Your diet can affect your hormone levels, and this can result in changes to your skin. For example, some common trigger foods include dairy, such as milk-based protein powders such as Whey. Oily foods also promote the production of sebum which can cause acne, so side-step the pizza where you can!
  • Using the wrong skincare that is not suited to your skin type can result in reactions in the form of rashes, dryness or breakouts. Products that have irritating fragrances in them may be one to avoid, additionally certain toners and cleansers can strip your skin of essential oils and make it feel tight or irritated.
  • The associations between stress and breakouts are now well-known. Stress can produce the hormone known as CRH, or corticotrophin-releasing hormone. “CRH can bind to receptors in the skin’s sebaceous glands, and that binding drives up the skin’s oil production — which can cause pimples.” Stress also often results in poor sleeping patterns and diet which in turn, can trigger acne.

Now that you’ve identified some of the trigger points for flare-ups, it is time to think about how you can improve your daily routine to better your skin.

  • Decreasing your stress levels
    – Practising mindfulness and meditation, and getting regular exercise, is linked to decreased stress levels.
    – Consider supplements which include Vitamins A, D, and zinc as these can help to fight acne!
    – Therapy can help to deal with chronic stress and is an excellent long-term commitment to both yourself and your skin.
  • Diet
    – There are many foods that are known to help promote healthy skin. Mayo Clinic provides a list of some essential foods to try and incorporate into your diet for healthy skin; some items include:
    – Carrots, apricots, and other yellow and orange fruits and vegetables
    – Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
    – Berries
    -Beans, peas and lentils
    – Salmon, mackerel and other fatty fish
    – Nuts

Alongside the above changes, it may be worth considering a different skincare routine. The three central steps to any skincare routine are cleansing, toning, and moisturising, so try to ensure you use these steps every night before bed.

If this routine doesn’t work for you then please contact a professional dermatologist or GP who can help you
develop a routine which is bespoke for your skin type and problems.

Lucy Tombs

Featured image courtesy of Charisse Kenion via Unsplash. Image license found hereNo changes were made to this image. 

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