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Skin and nervous system have been linked since before birth since they are formed from the same embryonic tissue in utero. This explains why they remain closely linked throughout life, and why an obvious link is forged between our mental state and our possible skin problems.

This is why the effects of stress, anxieties, emotions and everything that influences the nervous system can also have an impact on the skin, from simple momentary blushing, to certain skin diseases, such as acne and psoriasis.

From speech to skin manifestations, the effects of stress are expressed and displayed on the skin

• Pictorial language “Being on edge” when we are on the verge of bursting because emotions and stress overwhelm us; “to feel bad about one's skin” when the psychological state is upset, when the being is in pain… So many pictorial expressions which show to what extent the psychological state, the nervous state and the skin are correlated. These expressions reveal both to what extent the skin is a reflection of our emotions and our nervous state, to what extent it shows the world what we feel inside, but also how, from a physiological point of view, brain and skin are intimately connected through the nervous system in particular.

• Emotions that can be seen
The skin is the organ that is seen, that shows us and expresses, sometimes at our expense, our emotions, and all forms of stress, positive or negative. Sometimes all it takes is a fear, a one-off stress (job interview, important speech, romantic date), for the skin to suddenly react – and betray us – by blushing, turning pale, causing excess sweating sometimes. We speak of these temporary rednesses, which appear under the influence of an emotion and disappear immediately, as a “flush”.

The skin and the nervous system, a close relationship

The same origin

In the first three months of uterine life, skin and nervous system become one. They are formed from one of the 3 tissues that constitute us: the ectoderm. Which explains why they remain in close relationship throughout life, communicating non-stop. But the skin, unlike the intestine, is not a “second brain”, because it does not contain neurons, but a large number of nerve endings.

The neuro-immune-cutaneous system

In the skin, the nervous system, controlled by the brain, modulates and influences all skin functions: the capacity for repair, cell renewal and healing, hair growth, sebum production, UV reaction and immunity. skin. Skin cells indeed have receptors for neurotransmitters, these chemical substances which transport information. There are around forty neurotransmitters in the skin: adrenaline, acetylcholine, GABA, etc. Certain hormones also play this role of messengers, such as melatonin, estrogens, cortisol. The relationships between skin, immunity and the nervous system are so close that Professor Laurent Misery, head of the dermatology department and director of the neuroscience laboratory at the Brest CHRU, even developed the concept of a “neuro-immune-cutaneous system”

Cortisol, a key hormone

As Professor Misery points out, in French the word stress designates both the cause (the event: bereavement, job interview, accident, etc.), its effects on the person and the body, and the response to this aggression . Stress can be acute or chronic.
However, when we experience stress, the body responds with a cascade of reactions that activate both areas of the brain (hypothalamus, pituitary gland) and the sympathetic nervous system, leading to the release of hormones and neurotransmitters. Adrenaline, which prepares us to react in the event of danger, and cortisol, considered the stress hormone par excellence, are the most determining. But there are others: ACTH (or adrenocorticotropic hormone), oxytocin (positive hormone in response to stress) and vasopressin. Adrenaline and cortisol allow you to go into a state of hypervigilance, to send a surplus of nutrients and oxygen to the brain and muscles, so that they react quickly (running during an attack for example). Cortisol in particular, which normally regulates carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, ions and water in our body, has the role, in cases of stress, of releasing a dose of glucose into the blood to boost the heart, lungs and muscles. . When stress is acute and temporary, no problem, but if it becomes chronic, the result is too high a level of cortisol in the blood which leads to sleep problems, excess weight, concentration problems, etc. On the skin, the effects stress causes red patches, overproduction of sebum, skin inflammations, etc.

The effects of stress on the beauty of the skin

Stress makes us go into “survival” mode: the body concentrates its resources on vital organs and muscles, to the detriment of the rest… and therefore of the peripheral area that is the skin. When the stress is occasional (running after your bus, looking for your cell phone), no problem. But if stress becomes chronic, a daily mode of functioning, because you have a young child, pressure at work, a bereavement or a separation... it affects the proper functioning of the skin, and it ends up being visible .

The dehydration

Stressed skin changes and becomes fragile. It is less well nourished and irrigated, its skin barrier is impaired. Stress can therefore cause dehydration, with even the appearance of plaques, redness and tightness.

The lack of shine

Adrenaline secreted during stress causes vasoconstrictions and oxytocin - normally the bonding hormone but also boosted in the event of stress to improve the reaction - causes vasodilation. As a result, the nutrients carried by the blood are no longer distributed evenly and optimally and the complexion becomes dull. Lack of radiance adds to dehydration.

Oxidative stress

The immune system reacts to stress by producing free radicals in order to neutralize possible pathogens linked to injury or infection. Furthermore, cortisol also induces a greater production of free radicals. This overload of free radicals means that the natural anti-oxidant defense system is overwhelmed. Result: oxidative stress sets in and skin cells age prematurely.

Premature wrinkles

In addition to aggravating oxidative stress, cortisol alters collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, which are essential for the firmness and elasticity of the skin. It therefore leads to accelerated aging with the early appearance of wrinkles, and a loss of tone of the skin which sags. Added to this is a contraction of the facial muscles, the features are tense and the eyebrows frown. These effects of stress lead to the appearance of expression lines.

The effects of stress on skin health

Stress is not the cause of chronic skin diseases, the causes of which are multifactorial, often with a genetic factor, but it can cause flare-ups as a triggering or aggravating factor. And since these skin pathologies, difficult to live with because they undermine confidence and self-esteem, they also cause stress, we enter a vicious circle of self-perpetuation of the disease.

Itching, especially at night

There are a myriad of causes of pruritus (medications, fungal infections, eczema, etc.) but there is also "psychogenic pruritus", linked directly to stress with no other possible cause, with worsening in the evening and at night, and during periods of inactivity and rest. This itching can be improved by psychotherapy.

Stress acne and its pimples

Acne is also caused by stress. Indeed, cortisol - again - boosts the production of androgen hormones, which stimulate the production of sebum. Result: the pores become blocked, the acne bacteria (c.acnes) develops on the surface of the skin and pimples and blackheads appear. And, as with other skin pathologies, stress and acne feed on themselves, because cortisol, which intervenes again, maintains inflammation and prevents rapid healing. Treatment: depending on the gradation, it ranges from benzoyl peroxide associated with retinoids locally, to isotretinoin orally.

Urticaria outbreaks

Long considered a psychosomatic illness, urticaria, characterized by an often itchy rash of papules, is not one. On the other hand, stress can trigger or worsen certain outbreaks of hives. Treatment: antihistamines, and in some cases, omalizumab, an anti-IgE monoclonal antibody.


Studies on people suffering from atopic dermatitis and subjected to stress (after an earthquake in Japan) showed an exacerbation of the pathology in the following month in almost 40% of them. In cases of minor stress, a flare-up may also occur in the following days. These patients would be more sensitive to adrenaline than the majority. And here again, eczema and stress are a vicious circle, because eczema, which is highly disabling, causes stress. Treatment combines the use of local corticosteroids during attacks and emollients.


Psoriasis, which causes red, scaly patches due to runaway keratinocytes, is the epitome of a chronic pathology aggravated by the effect of stress. Because in the case of psoriasis, immunity and the overproduction of substance P are strongly involved, as in stress. And stress is the cause of most flare-ups. The most effective treatment remains phototherapy (UV).

Alopecia areata

Dermatologists often note that alopecia areata - hair loss in patches - occurs after stress: bereavement, separation, illness... It is described as an autoimmune disease, because in alopecia areata, the hair follicles are destroyed by mechanisms immunological (lymphocytes). Corticosteroid creams are generally prescribed, which calm inflammation and play an immunosuppressive role.


It is also called a cold sore. However, herpes appears in cases of physical stress (fever) or psychological stress (annoyance, high pressure, etc.). It is treated with a specific molecule (acyclovir)

Seborrheic dermatitis

Among the multiple dermatoses favored by stress, dermatologists often also cite seborrheic dermatitis, marked by white or yellowish flaking patches on the T zone of the face, the scalp and the thorax. This condition caused by the proliferation of commensal yeast (malassezia) feeds on the sebum produced in excess by the sebaceous glands. As, in cases of stress, sebum production increases, this famous yeast develops. Dermatologists prescribe antifungals, combined in some cases with corticosteroids.

How to reduce the effects of stress on the skin?

The trio of cosmetics, diet and relaxation remains the best solution against the effects of stress on the skin.

A suitable cosmetic routine

Whether it is dryness and lack of radiance, or a real dermatosis, once again the appropriate routine begins with proper cleansing, with a gentle cleanser, for the face and body, without soap, with non-aggressive surfactants that respect the pH, the microbiota and the skin's hydrolipidic film, and water that is not too hot (and showers rather than baths).

In the BLUE SKINCARE NACRE ÉCLAT Range, we advise you to follow the following routine in all seasons:
1- Remove make-up and cleanse the face with Metamorphose Balm. A real treat for tight skin, because it is a gelled makeup remover oil! After rinsing with clean water, the skin feels clean, soft and comfortable. For those who prefer more watery textures, Milky Micellar Water will delight combination skin looking for more freshness. An ultra-concentrated half-milk, half-water cleanser to use as a massage to remove makeup and cleanse effortlessly.
2- Return the skin's pH to balance with Isotonic Mother-of-Pearl Water In the XERO NACRE Range from BLUE SKINCARE, to take care of your body, we advise you to use in addition to your usual care:
Lipid-Replenishing Cleansing Oil to gently cleanse the body. Enriched with organic vegetable oils, its creamy and enveloping texture cleanses, nourishes and soothes the most uncomfortable skin prone to itching.

On the care side, we choose products from the short Inci list (the list of ingredients), with moisturizing active ingredients (hyaluronic acid, glycerin), anti-inflammatory (niacinamide, panthenol) and anti-oxidants (Vitamin C, vitamin E, polyphenols). And we coat our body with emollients (moisturizing products). All this does not prevent the occurrence of skin pathologies, but helps reduce dehydration and premature aging, and space out outbreaks.
In the BLUE SKINCARE NACRE ÉCLAT Range, we advise you to use morning and evening: the New Skin Serum to sustainably rehydrate the epidermis (24-hour hydration), then the Regenerating Moisturizing Cream to nourish, hydrate (48-hour hydration) and protect the skin from external aggressions. BLUE SKINCARE treatments are rich in NACR-45® mother-of-pearl powder (the brand's proprietary active ingredient) whose “shield” effectiveness has been scientifically proven. Day after day, the skin barrier is restored. The skin is stronger.

A controlled diet

To boost yourself or, on the contrary, calm down, in cases of stress, you may be tempted to have more coffee, drink a glass of alcohol or smoke a cigarette. It is a mistake. On the contrary, we avoid all exciting substances (alcohol, coffee, etc.) and sodas, which are drying. On the contrary, we hydrate as much as possible with water. And we adopt a diet rich in antioxidants (red, yellow, orange, green fruits and vegetables) and fatty acids (salmon, sardines).
As a complement to your beauty routine, we advise you to include the Skin Perfecting Food Supplement from the NACRE ÉCLAT range from BLUE SKINCARE for radiant and more resilient skin. Ultra concentrated in active mother-of-pearl, it also contains a pre- and probiotic complex to rebalance the intestinal microbiota, and hyaluronic acid to maintain the hydration and elasticity of the skin. Rich in vitamin C and zinc, it is an anti-oxidant and contributes to the normal formation of collagen for plumper skin.

Relaxation to manage stress

In this anxiety-provoking world where everything moves too quickly, and where stress becomes a way of life, it is essential to carve out time for rest and relaxation once or twice a week. Yoga, meditation, sophrology, chosen physical activity are the best way to successfully put stress at bay. They are also being included more and more in the treatment of chronic diseases, whatever they may be. Massage can also relieve stress.
A consultation with a psychiatrist or psychologist – in addition to that of a dermatologist – can also help to understand the origin of stress. There is even a medical discipline dealing with the relationship between dermatology and psychiatry: psycho-dermatology. The objective is to treat skin conditions with a psychosomatic approach.


How does stress attack the skin?

Stress has a strong influence on the skin through the sympathetic nervous system and its neuromediators (adrenaline, noradrenaline), hormones triggered by stress (cortisol, oxytocin), and the immune system overwhelmed by stress.

What are the effects of stress on the skin?

Occasional stress can cause an increase in redness (a flush), paleness, or even excessive sweating. Chronic - long-lasting - stress leads to a weakening of the skin barrier and oxidative stress, in particular due to the production of the stress hormone (cortisol), which causes dehydration, loss of radiance, premature aging and flare-ups. of acne. Finally, acute stress can cause and aggravate outbreaks in the case of a real dermatosis, whether it is psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, herpes or alopecia areata.

Can stress cause itching?

Whether it is a "psychogenic pruritus", eczema, urticaria, or seborrheic dermatitis, many outbreaks of dermatoses with itching are linked to stress. Because stress maintains inflammation, but also skin dehydration and dryness, which can also cause itching.