Stress can be difficult to define. It’s an invisible, immeasurable force that can exist in nearly every facet of our day-to-day lives, even if we are not aware of it. Living in a state of stress can impact both mental and physical health. Stress causes muscle tension, requires the heart and lungs to work harder, upsets digestion and releases hormones that affect the brain and reproductive systems.
For people who have rosacea, stress can also be a trigger for their skin condition. In a survey of rosacea patients, the NRS found that emotional stress was one of the most commonly cited triggers for rosacea flare-ups, affecting 79 percent of all respondents. Family and career were the top causes of emotional stress. Other causes of stress included finance, health, relationships and social pressure. Another NRS survey found that 69 percent of rosacea patients said they experienced a flare-up related to emotional stress at least once a month.
While stress may often cause rosacea flare-ups, those flare-ups themselves can further lead to even more stress and flare-ups. "It would be hard to invent a more embarrassing disease than rosacea," said Dr. Ted Grossbart, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. "It affects the one part of the body that cannot be hidden — the face — and tends to strike people at a time in life when they may be increasingly self-conscious about changes in their appearance. Moreover, especially because this condition is not widely understood, it can leave its victims feeling isolated and even alienated from society."
Dealing with stress is a very individual task, but the first step in most stress management plans is to identify what it is that stresses you most. The good news is that in a survey of more than 700 rosacea patients, over 67 percent were able to reduce flare-ups by making an effort to manage stress in their lives.
For tips and ideas on stress management that might apply to your individual case, visit the National Rosacea Society’s “Reduce Stress Reduce Red” Pinterest board.
Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver.