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Skin Deep: Scar Care Beyond Dermatology

Dr. Robyn Silverman

The body is like a window; whatever is happening emotionally on the inside could be seen on the outside. Maintaining a positive attitude will often help ensure both emotional and skin health. As a body image expert, I know that many men and women suffer from a number of skin and health issues, sometimes as a result of high stress or anxiety. In fact, psychological strain can lead to situations that cause your skin stress, whether it's a decrease in the speed of wound healing, increased acne breakouts or even dry skin.

Many people experience stress throughout their day, whether it's from relationships, work or finances – these points of anxiety can have effects on an individual's overall appearance. Some people will turn to eating unhealthy foods to cope with their anxieties or eat when they are not hungry to fulfill emotional needs – this is called stress or emotional eating. It's very important to maintain a healthy diet of well-balanced meals because those who maintain unhealthy diets, especially diets lacking in water, can experience dry and flaky skin.

Stress can also have negative effects on the skin's wound healing process. During periods of anxiety, the body releases a hormone called cortisol, which works to break down fat for energy and regulate blood pressure in the body. Studies have shown that elevated levels of cortisol can lead to collagen loss in the skin, which contributes to elevated skin aging and skin dehydration. What does this mean for your overall skin health, particularly if you have a wound that results in a scar? Your skin needs moisture for wounds to properly heal and if it's dehydrated, these wounds can possibly result in more noticeably visible scars. After your wounds heal, the resulting scars shouldn't add to your stress. If you are uncomfortable about the appearance of your scars, I recommend Mederma® Advanced Scar Gel, which is the first and only 1X daily topical scar gel that is clinically shown to reduce the overall appearance, color and texture of scars.

Men and women may also experience acne outbreaks during stressful periods. For those who are already prone to acne outbreaks, stress and anxiety can cause the skin condition to be more severe.4 This occurs because psychological strain can cause skin cells that produce more sebum, which is an oily substance that mixes with dead skin cells to clog hair follicles, leading to pimples or acne cysts.

In order to keep yourself in a positive mindset and decrease your stress level, set reasonable goals of what you want to accomplish in your life for the day, week and month – this allows you to manage both your time and stress level. Prioritize your most important goals first and congratulate yourself when they are reached! If a wave of stress or anger does start to take hold, take a few deep breaths, talk to a trusted friend and try to calm your mind.

While it may be easier said than done, make an effort to keep your stress and anxiety under control. It can make a difference in the health and wellness of your body and skin—as well as how they look and feel. In addition, remember to consult your dermatologist or physician if you ever have any additional questions about how to maintain your skin's appearance.

All information in the Mederma® Learning Center is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice. You should seek professional medical care if you have any concerns about your skin.