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Just say ohhhmmmm

Published June 7th, 2015

A collective sigh of relief came across the country last week.  Parents everywhere are rejoicing that summer vacation has started - and for a little while, no homework, no scheduled activities, no rush.  And with one less thing to stress and worry about, everyone should now have clear skin. 

"What do you mean, Doc?" you may say.  "Stress can affect skin?"  You betcha!

When we're stressed, our bodies produce more of a hormone called cortisol.  We need that hormone in stressful situations- if we're in danger, about to be attacked, our body responds by saying "run!  escape!" and that cortisol kicks us into high gear.  But when constant low levels of cortisol are released, it is not a good thing. 

Stress can:

increase hair loss

make psoriasis worse

flare acne and rosacea

cause hives

precipitate a shingles outbreak

bring out cold sores

weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight infections

worsen eczema

lead to picking and pulling of skin/nails/hair

But there are ways to manage stress in our lives.  Exercising daily and eating a well balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains combats fatigue and stress, and increases energy levels.  Yoga, breathing exercises, and a few minutes of mediation daily help to lower cortisol levels.  Limiting alcohol and not smoking are important to keeping a healthy glow to the skin.  Spending time with family, friends, and pets builds connections and a strong emotional support system.  Hobbies, like gardening, or painting, are soothing and calming.  Find something you enjoy and look forward to, and make time for it.

And be stress-free.  At least, until school starts again!

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