Last year, overall stress levels increased slightly in the U.S. and greater percentages of adults reported extreme levels compared to the year before. The American Psychological Association reported that stress greatly impacts adults’ mental health and behaviors — but are all of its effects internal?

Stress can also cause and exacerbate physical issues, including skin problems. Common skin issues anxiety contributes to include psoriasis, dandruff, eczema, acne and hives, The Daily Mail reported. It’s also been theorized that people who live with a lot of stress will develop wrinkles early on, but that hasn’t been scientifically proven.

“The skin and the central nervous system are intertwined,” Dr. Adam Friedman, director of dermatologic research at Montefiore Medical Center in New York told U.S. News. “Therefore, it’s not surprising that almost any and all skin diseases can be impacted by changes in the nervous system.”

In a 2007 study, mice subjected to conditions of psychological stress were found to be more susceptible to skin infections than mice housed under normal conditions. Anxiety-ridden creatures were also more susceptible to skin infections than other mice because of decreased antimicrobial peptides in the skin.

Have stress-induced skin issues? Try reducing your anxiety with guided relaxation, meditation, visual imagery, breathing exercises or yoga. Proper sleep is key to keeping a quiet brain, as well as diet and exercise.

If you have a chronic debilitating skin condition, Dr. Friedman advises going to a dermatologist early for relief, education and management tips, according to U.S. News.

“I often tell these patients that the skin condition, their primary concern, is causing them stress, and seeing a psychologist could help them manage the stress so as not to exacerbate the condition," he said. "Psychologists can be helpful in addressing the emotional burden and can be a helpful part of the overall treatment regimen, which can include both topical and oral medications.”

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