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Is your lifestyle stressing your skin out?

Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger HendersonReviewed on 29.04.2024 | 3 minutes read

We have all had that important date in the diary coming up, and a day or so before, what happens – our skin breaks out. There are many different things in our day to day life that can affect how our skin is reacting. Some in the short term, and others over the long term. Here the Healthwords medical team takes a look at some of these lifestyle factors in detail that can contribute to changes with your skin.

Doctor’s advice


There is a complex relationship between the mind and body, one that modern medicine hasn’t fully understood or evidenced so far. It therefore makes sense that your mind and your skin (your largest organ) have a link. I think we are pretty comfortable with the fact that hormonal changes can affect your skin, and the science for the mind-skin link is probably a similar process. Stressful life situations such as the run up to a big exam would easily lead to a response of stress biochemicals in your brain and body. This in turn provides a direct link between the mental health burden and the physical changes experienced in your skin.

Avoiding stress isn’t always possible, but focusing on talking about and addressing your mental health when it isn’t feeling 100% is a good place to start. Try to pre-empt stressful periods such as exam season or work deadlines. It can be useful to incorporate good coping strategies, and performing tasks that can help with stress levels – take time out with mindfulness and meditation, or whatever you find to keep stress levels down.


Hydration is something we are always talking about at Healthwords – such an important foundation of day to day life, especially during a bout of illness. Hydration with regards to your skin is twofold, keeping the top layer of your skin hydrated with moisturisers, and your body generally hydrated with a certain level of fluids. For the top layer of your skin, ensure that any dryness is combatted with a cream or ointment effective at moisturising.

For hydration, drinking 1.5 to 2 litres per day (6 to 8 cups) of water is a good starting point. For those engaging in high-sweat activities, or if you just want an extra hydration helping-hand, O.R.S hydration tablets contain the World Health Organisation’s standard for oral rehydration solution. Salts are essential alongside water to keep your body in balance and your skin and other organs working at their best.


It doesn’t need a trip to your doctor’s to know that smoking causes all sorts of direct and indirect problems to your skin. The effect smoking has on blood vessels that supply your skin leads to damage over long periods of time. A worse blood supply means less oxygen, and lower delivery of skin’s essential nutrients via the blood. It also makes healing up wounds or clearing up spots that bit harder. Indirectly, repetitive pursing of your lips around a cigarette will lead to facial wrinkles over time. The best thing to do for skin health and maintaining youthful looks is to give up, and the NHS Smoking Cessation service can help you.


Alcohol intake has been linked to an increased risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. It’s not quite the spots before a big date that we were talking about, but still something worth considering over the long run with regards to your skin.

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Dr Roger Henderson
Reviewed by Roger Henderson
Reviewed on 29.04.2024
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