A look at how stress affects the body

Don’t let stress get to your skin and hair
Dr. Barbara Kubicka

GUEST POST FROM DR BARBARA KUBICKA, MD, CIME/ICAM, MBCAM

We all know how it is; juggling work, kids, social life and just about everything else makes us feel as if there just aren’t enough hours in the day. That’s now news, and it’s why so many of us love to book a spa day to chill out.

Sometimes, if we don’t take the time out to look after ourselves, we get stressed, and when we’re stressed, our bodies go through a series of physiological changes that can start to affect the way we feel – and the way we look, too.

Once you understand how stress works, you can see why it has such an effect. When we are stressed, the body naturally starts to release hormones like cortisol and norepinephrine. These are interpreted by the body as ‘danger signals’ – they are the same hormones that the body releases in response to physical danger or fear.

Cortisol in particular is believed to affect the metabolic system. The stress hormones trigger increased heart rate, raised blood pressure, faster breathing and also slow down digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity. Some people tend to eat badly when they get stressed, too, and in some cases stress can be a factor in heart disease.

Stress and your skin

Cortisol also affects your skin. One of the most common effects seen in clinics is break-outs of acne in patients who are in their early 40s and 50s – people who thought that their days of acne were long behind them. It’s usually obvious that stress is a factor, so in these cases it’s important to treat the root cause and not just the acne.

Lifestyle and nutrition advice can be helpful and sometimes treatments like chemical peels and medical skincare or even light therapy to balance sebum production are useful; as well as speeding up the healing process of skin inflammation and bacterial infection.

In severe cases short oral treatment might be necessary as well. When stress is an issue, the holistic approach goes to the root of the problem as well as the resulting skin condition, visible on the surface.

Acne can be embarrassing, and causes even more stress to anyone suffering with it, so it’s important to target it as soon as possible, which also helps avoid pigmentation and scaring.

Stress and your hair

Cortisol can also have an unwanted effect on your hair too. Although most people think hair loss is an age-related condition that affects mostly men, stress-related hair loss is starting to affect women too. While classic male pattern baldness affects the scalp, stress-related hair loss can be more of a generalised thinning or might appear in patches as a result of prolonged exposure to cortisol.

Over the last few years the problem seems to be more widely reported and celebrities like Nigella Lawson and Gail Porter have suffered with hair loss due to stress.

If you’re noticing hair loss, and you think it might be down to a stressful lifestyle, take a long hard look at your lifestyle and see where you can make changes. If you think treatment might help, you could also try a Biotin boost or hormonal adjustment which includes topical scalp treatment, and if that isn’t enough, opt for one of the other topical or small invasive solutions you can now choose from.

Mesotherapy is a treatment consisting of small injections into the scalp with a carefully combined cocktail of vitamins and micro elements like silica to help build stronger and healthier hair.

Procedures like micro needling help increase blood circulation in the scalp, improving nutrition supply to the hair follicles.

If that doesn’t help, you might like to try PRP (Platelets rich plasma) – ‘the vampire treatment’. By taking a patients’ blood and preparing the fraction rich in platelets and growth factors and reapplying it into the problematic area, you can benefit from the best possible and most natural results of hair growth stimulation.

All of these treatments aim to reverse, stop or at the very least slow down the process of hair loss so that hopefully, in the future, radical solutions like a hair transplant will no longer be required.

About Dr Kubicka, clinicbe®

Dr Barbara Kubicka MD, CIME/ICAM, MBCAM is a fully qualified doctor, registered with the GMC and with additional qualifications in aesthetic treatments.

clinicbe® is based in Belgravia, Knightsbridge, London.

About the author

For 25 years, Spa Seekers have been helping people throughout the UK to relax, refresh and revive at the very best spas.

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