How Stress Impacts Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff: 10 Ways to Lower Anxiety Naturally
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes flaky, scaly, itchy, and red patches on the scalp and other areas of the body.
Its cousin, dandruff, is also one of the most prevalent skin conditions in the world.
Apart from that, some evidence shows that stress may worsen seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.
In fact, one study found that participants identified stress as one of the main trigger factors for a seborrheic dermatitis flare-up. Research findings also showed that a stressful life event often preceded a seborrheic dermatitis episode .
This evidence is backed by other research that found psychological stress to be a trigger for flare-ups. Additionally, researchers discovered that the disease severity of seborrheic dermatitis increased with stress .
Essentially, research shows that stress can be a primary driving factor for flare-ups and worsening seborrheic dermatitis.
In this article, we'll further explore the relationship between stress and seborrheic dermatitis, as well as some ways you can naturally manage stress and keep your seborrheic dermatitis symptoms under control.
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How is Stressed Associated with Seborrheic Dermatitis?
As mentioned earlier, stress can trigger seborrheic dermatitis. That's why some people notice a flare-up during or after stressful seasons — like when they're having a major exam, overwhelmed with work, or simply staying with their in-laws during the holidays.
But how does stress worsen seborrheic dermatitis?
Well, stress can disrupt the natural balance of hormones in your body and chemical messengers in your brain .
As a result, stress may throw off your body's immune system, stimulate the production of inflammatory markers, and increase inflammation, which can aggravate symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis .
Plus, when you're constantly stressed, your body is rarely in rest-and-digest mode, where most of the healing takes place.
While stress can aggravate symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, there is another piece to this puzzle. Some people with this skin condition may find themselves in a recurring cycle since seborrheic dermatitis can also lead to stress, anxiety, and lower self-confidence.
So, if you've noticed that your seborrheic dermatitis affects your mood and self-esteem, you're not alone. In fact, research has found that seborrheic dermatitis commonly co-occurs with mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and other mood-related symptoms .
This is completely understandable, as seborrheic dermatitis can affect a person's appearance and social activities . However, this stress, in turn, can further worsen seborrheic dermatitis, leading to a repetitive cycle.
In the event that you're always feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your seborrheic dermatitis symptoms, it may be best to seek advice from both a dermatologist and a mental health professional.
10 Ways You Can Naturally Reduce Stress to Better Manage Seborrheic Dermatitis
Everyone deals with stress at some point in their lives. While we can't prevent undesirable events from happening, we are in control of how we respond to them.
Of course, it's definitely easier said than done. So remember to show yourself some patience and grace along the way!
The following are some stress management tips to help you reduce and relieve stress, thereby lowering your risk of seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups.
#1 Proactively manage stress (before, during, and after).
We recommend a three-pronged approach in managing stress: eliminate stress triggers before they occur, practice mindfulness in stressful situations, and practice self-care to undo the damage that has occurred.
Minimizing the sources of irritation before they occur is a simple way to reduce chronic stress in your life. It's important that we protect our energy from events, people, and things that tend to give us stress.
For instance, fear, confusion, and stressful situations are commonly portrayed in media, so most of us might not need to watch or listen to as much news as we do.
You can also set healthy boundaries in your relationships and limit your time spent with people who drain you. This is more difficult in some situations than others, but we encourage you to be mindful of who you spend your time with.
No matter how well we organize and plan our lives, we will encounter situations that take us by surprise. In these moments, it's crucial to accept responsibility for the story we're creating in our heads.
We perceive life through the lens (or filter) of our internal story. This is neither good nor bad; it is simply the nature of being human. Recognizing this truth helps us to better write the stories we tell ourselves.
So when a stressful situation arises, we can pause and consider whether we want to change the story we're telling ourselves.
Is our partner being inconsiderate, or do they simply have too much on their plate to help us run this errand? The answer could be both, but we get to choose the story that serves our energy best.
It may feel awkward at first, but with practice, we begin to recognize how much control we have over the conversations we have with ourselves.
Despite our best efforts, all of us will get caught up with inner monologues that stress us out. That's completely okay and perfectly normal. When this happens, self-care becomes key.
Amid overwhelming seasons in life, you can take some steps to reduce your anxiety and release your stress.
These steps are detailed below.
Meditation is an effective practice to reduce stress and enhance general well-being. Research has found that meditation can reduce stress, anxiety, and pain and improve memory .
This technique can take many forms, but the ultimate goal is to keep your focus on any given moment and let go of preoccupying ideas and concerns. This gives you time to breathe and slow down.
It's worth experimenting with various meditation and mindfulness practices to determine which ones are most effective. You could try the following:
Focused meditation: This involves letting go of distracting thoughts and concentrating on a single object, sound, or sensation, such as your breath or a mantra.
Body scan meditation: While lying down, you can perform a body scan and focus on each region of your body, noting how you feel and letting go of any tension in that area.
Mindfulness meditation: In mindfulness meditation, you'll pay attention to your thoughts and feelings without judging or responding to them.
#3 Build social connections.
Humans are designed to crave connection with other human beings, and the relationships we have with other people are crucial to maintaining our mental and emotional health.
Spending time with loved ones can often offer support, comfort, and distraction when we're upset, anxious, or overwhelmed.
Spending time with people you love can also increase the levels of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, as well as reduce stress hormones known as cortisol .
In fact, studies have found that social connections can greatly benefit your mental and physical well-being. Based on research findings, social connections can impact various facets of health, from improving weight management and heart health to enhancing mental wellness and reducing the risk of depression .
#4 Get enough rest.
Getting enough quality sleep is crucial to enjoying good health. In addition to promoting physical restoration and repair, sufficient sleep is essential for positive mood and stress control.
A lack of sleep can affect many aspects of our health, from our memory and attention to how well our brain carries out cognitive tasks. Research has further proven that poor quality sleep or a lack of sleep is significantly linked to stress levels .
Additionally, lacking sleep can also affect our mood and make us more prone to feeling agitated, irritated, or nervous. This puts us in a position where we're more likely to become stressed.
There are several ways you can ensure you get enough quality sleep at night.
Firstly, create a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Be cautious about taking afternoon naps, as these may throw off your sleep schedule.
Additionally, try to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and other chemicals that can disrupt sleep. Make sure the atmosphere where you sleep is restful. This could look like having a comfortable bed and a cool, dark room with little noise and other distractions.
#5 Get moving.
Strangely enough, working out puts short-term stress on your body but helps regulate your stress hormone levels and reduce anxiety in the long run.
Physical activity can alleviate stress by releasing endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that act as natural pain relievers and mood enhancers .
Apart from that, exercise can lead to better sleep at night, which, in turn, can improve how well you cope with stress during the day.
Research also suggests that completing a productive activity like exercise can elicit a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. This helps to improve mood and reduce stress .
There are various kinds of sports and exercises you can give a go!
Weightlifting, bodyweight exercises, and resistance band exercises are great examples of strength training workouts. If you want to improve your flexibility and balance, you can go for yoga, Pilates, and tai chi, all of which focus on stretching and improving your range of motion.
Some people love the thrill of outdoor sports. Hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and cycling are all great ways to exercise while enjoying nature.
#6 Try deep breathing exercises.
Research has discovered that breathing exercises can lead to changes in your heart rate, blood pressure, and nervous system. These changes can increase comfort, relaxation, and alertness and reduce feelings of anxiety, anger, or confusion .
There are various types of breathing exercises you can try out. They include:
Diaphragmatic breathing: This technique, also known as belly breathing, involves breathing deeply into the diaphragm. This can aid in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the "rest-and-digest" response.
4-7-8 breathing: This involves inhaling for four counts, holding the breath for seven counts, and exhaling for eight counts. This breathing pattern can help to slow the heart rate and induce relaxation.
Alternate nostril breathing: This technique involves closing one nostril and breathing in and out through the other. To exhale, close the inhaling nostril and open the other nostril. This helps balance the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body, reducing stress.
Box breathing: Also known as square breathing, this technique involves inhaling for four counts, holding the breath for four counts, exhaling for four counts, and holding for four counts again.
Mindful breathing: For this technique, you'd simply concentrate on the sensation of the breath as it enters and exits the body. By doing this, you can better connect with the present moment and become less reactive to the stressors around you.
It's best to consult a professional before trying out any of these breathing exercises for the first time.
#7 Unwind with essential oils.
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts used for various purposes, including stress relief and relaxation.
Many essential oils can be used to reduce stress, and the best oil for a specific person will depend on their personal preferences and the oil's properties.
The following essential oils have been used to reduce stress and promote relaxation:
Lavender oil: Used to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety due to its calming and soothing properties .
Bergamot oil: Used to relieve stress and anxiety and improve mood .
Chamomile oil: Can reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and improve sleep due to its calming and soothing properties .
Ylang-ylang oil: Well-known for its ability to alleviate stress and anxiety while also promoting relaxation and a sense of calm .
When looking for an essential oil, purchase a high-quality one from a reputable source and be sure to stick to the recommended dosage.
It's also best to consult a medical professional before use, especially if you have any health conditions or if you're pregnant or breastfeeding.
#8 Tap into your flow state.
Tapping into your flow state, also known as being in the zone, involves becoming completely immersed in what you're doing. This happens when you're engaging with something that has captured your attention.
This state of mind is often seen in athletes, scientists, or artists who are completely absorbed in their tasks, enabling them to excel in their work .
Research has found that during this state of mind, your levels of stress fall while worries begin to subside. People have reported feeling more in control of their situation and having a clearer sense of direction (in terms of goals). And often, the flow state is accompanied by a sense of accomplishment and a positive mood .
Cumulatively, these can all help to combat stress and reduce negative thoughts.
You can practice tapping into your flow state by finding and engaging with an activity you really enjoy, such as playing music, getting into sports, creating art, or reading your favorite books.
#9 Connect with nature.
Immersing yourself in nature is a great stress antidote.
This is backed by a multitude of research. For instance, scientists have found that outdoor exercise is more therapeutic and reduces stress more effectively than indoor exercise.
Additionally, basking in green spaces and outdoor settings can boost self-esteem and overall mood and lead to lower cortisol levels .
#10 Manage your seborrheic dermatitis.
Seborrheic dermatitis can lead to stress, and stress can cause your symptoms to worsen.
To break this cycle, managing your seborrheic dermatitis becomes key.
Seborrheic dermatitis can be treated with topical medications (applied to the skin) or oral medications.
Topical medications are most commonly used in treatment. These include steroid creams to reduce itching and inflammation and antifungal creams to target the Malassezia fungus responsible for this skin condition.
Natural remedies for seborrheic dermatitis are another option for managing this condition. Some popular natural management options include sea salt, medical-grade honey, and apple cider vinegar.
If you're looking for a more holistic approach to treating your seborrheic dermatitis, the Calming Seborrheic Serum fits this bill. This serum contains a blend of ingredients that work together to combat symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.
It contains xylitol and colloidal silver that helps disrupt the Malassezia biofilm, a protective barrier shielding the fungus from antifungal agents. Once this barrier is weakened, the tea tree oil and dead sea salt in the formulation get to work to clear away the Malassezia fungus.
Other ingredients in the serum, such as concentrated aloe, rosemary oil, and hyaluronic acid, help to combat the itch, inflammation, and redness, as well as soothe, hydrate, and nourish the skin.
Cumulatively, the serum works to reduce symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, all while keeping the skin hydrated and well-nourished.