According to the National Rosacea Society, stress is the second biggest rosacea factor, after sun exposure.
Stress-related conditions, like anxiety, anger and embarrassment, can trigger negative physical reactions in the body that influence the development of rosacea symptoms and flare-ups. Genetics and pre-existing conditions may influence whether stress will induce this chronic inflammatory disorder.
While the stress response was designed to ensure survival, it activates the fight or flight response and a surge of stress hormones, which alter equilibrium. Long-term or chronic stress and hormone exposure adversely affect the circulatory, immune and nervous systems, plus elevate inflammation, all of which are tied in with rosacea.
- Stress hormones increase oil production, which creates an environment that the demodex folliculorum mite loves (oil is food for the mite).
- Adrenaline regulates blood vessels and CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone) which causes dilation of blood vessels, a main factor in rosacea.
- Cortisol breaks down proteins and weakens the immune system, which are linked rosacea.
- Stress also induces a release of neuropeptides that tear down the skin, impede circulation and increase inflammation. This reaction speeds up the aging process, which makes the skin more vulnerable to rosacea flare-ups.
The embarrassment or self-esteem issues rosacea sufferers may experience—due to having a “ruddy” appearance, red bumps and pimples—causes more stress and exacerbates rosacea flare-ups.
Stress often leads to behaviors that increases the risk of rosacea, such as drinking alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, and subconsciously scratching, rubbing or touching the affected areas. Stress is also known to trigger gastrointestinal issues and obesity, which are strongly linked with this skin condition.