CHILL YOUR WAY TO A BETTER SCALP:
WHY STRESS MAKES DANDRUFF WORSE
Your body is pretty amazing. It can communicate with you in more ways than you might have imagined. If you’re not feeling 100 per cent, or if danger is on the way, you might notice changes in your appearance.
Itchy skin, rashes, and other problems with your skin can all be signs that your body is trying to tell you something. It’s not always when you’re sick, either – your body might be trying to tell you it’s under too much stress.
When we think of stress, we tend to envision sleepless nights or tense muscles. But stress can manifest in many different ways, even affecting your scalp.
WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR BODIES WHEN WE ARE UNDER STRESS?
First and foremost, it’s important to note that stress is not a direct cause of dandruff. Rather, it encourages other symptoms that may have a domino effect on your scalp. So, what exactly happens to our bodies when we’re under stress?
OUR IMMUNE SYSTEMS SUFFER
Chronic stress may increase our susceptibility to auto-immune disorders. Some of these make us more susceptible to skin conditions, causing dry and itchy skin. What’s more, when our immune systems are compromised, we’re less likely to fight off harmful bugs or fungus.
One such fungus that is usually harmless is Malassezia. This occurs naturally on the scalp and feeds off our natural oils. If our immune systems are compromised, this can lead to an overgrowth of fungus, which in turn leads to dandruff.
WE PRODUCE CORTISOL
You’ve probably heard of the famous “fight or flight” response. When we’re stressed, our bodies begin to produce adrenaline and cortisol, otherwise known as the stress hormone. Stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which is one of the key symptoms of many skin conditions like psoriasis. We may see red patches and flaky skin as a result of our heightened stress levels.
OUR BLOOD SUGAR SPIKES
When we’re under stress, our livers produce extra glucose to give us the energy we need to “fight” the threat. However, this may lead to insulin peaks, which are linked to the overproduction of certain hormones. This can lead our follicles to overproduce the waxy substance sebum, giving us oily scalps and flaky, itchy skin.
When we’re stressed, our bodies begin to produce adrenaline and cortisol otherwise known as the stress hormone. Stress can lead to chronic inflammation, which is one of the keys symptoms of many skin conditions like psoriasis.
HOW TO COMBAT STRESS-RELATED DANDRUFF
Incorporating a medicated shampoo like Nizoral into your routine can help you to fight off the leading cause of dandruff: Malassezia. However, you should complement this with daily practices to reduce stress.
CHANGING UP YOUR DIET
Very often, our diets may be contributing to stress without us noticing. Processed foods high in sugar may exacerbate inflammation, while caffeine can make us anxious. For better wellbeing, try to limit your caffeine and alcohol intake. Encourage a diet that’s rich in natural antioxidants, including avocados, nuts and oily fish.
Sitting still and working ourselves up with screen time wreaks havoc on our bodies. Studies show that spending time outside can have a myriad of benefits on our mental health. Take a break, go for a walk and reconnect with nature.
TRY RESTORATIVE YOGA
You don’t need to be a contortionist to practise yoga. This ancient art is predominantly about learning how to control your breathing, and can appeal to all ages and abilities. Try free online yoga for beginners, which will take you through the basic steps before you progress to harder poses.
KEEPING A DIARY
This can be a mindfulness diary, a journal of all that you’re thankful for, or just a daily planner. Many of us suffer from being overwhelmed with the task at hand. Once we’ve written everything down and planned our day in logical steps, it’s not so scary.
CONFIDING IN A FRIEND
A problem shared is a problem halved, as they say. Humans are naturally social creatures, and studies have shown that socialising can not only improve our mental health, but our physical health too. That’s just what we need to keep those immune-related symptoms at bay!
Remember, your scalp can be a good indicator of your overall health. Take time for you and start with little changes – you could notice a big difference.