Skin issues? You're not alone – two thirds of British adults are having stress-induced flare-ups

Pandemic life has not been kind on our skin

Close up of a person's face
(Image credit: Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash)

A new study shows that two thirds of British adults are experiencing flare-ups of skin issues, such as eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, due to stress. In a nationwide study of 1,000 adults, conducted in Summer 2021 and commissioned by Typharm’s Skin Life Sciences Foundation, 66% said that recent periods of stress and anxiety had resulted in skin flare-ups, dryness or itchiness. A quarter of respondents also said their existing eczema or psoriasis worsens when they’re stressed, and 27% reported allergic-type skin reactions with no apparent cause. 

It's not just Brits that are struggling, either. In a recent survey of over 4000 patients from 86 different countries around the world, 43% reported worsening psoriasis. It also found that respondents were twice as likely to report psoriasis flare-ups when they were experiencing mental health issues.

The pandemic has meant many of us are feeling social anxiety, dealing with uncertainty surrounding events and travel, or struggling with loneliness and isolation as a result of lockdown precautions. 

“Stress and anxiety are typical reasons for skin flare-ups," comments skincare specialist and GP, Dr Nisa Aslam. "Not only can they make existing psoriasis, eczema or dermatitis worse, but they can even lead to dryness, red patches and itchiness in people who don’t normally experience skin problems."

Flare-ups of this kind can cause confidence issues of their own, too. In the Typharm survey, 42% of people said that having skin issues made them feel anxious, a third of people said it put them off socialising or prompted them to cover up. 38% even said that skin itchiness and dryness made it hard for them to sleep. 

If you've been struggling with skin issues for a while Nisa recommends speaking to your GP or a dermatologist, who will be able to recommend treatments to help. "Finding the most effective therapy is often a matter of trial," she says. "There are a variety of skin treatment options across eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis from ointments, creams to steroid medicated tape, with new products coming through all the time."

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is a lifestyle journalist specialising in sleep and wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy for fear of getting smothered in the night. As well as following all the industry trends and advancements in the mattress and bedding world, she regularly speaks to certified experts to delve into the science behind a great night's sleep, and offer you advice to help you get there. She's currently Sleep Editor on Tom's Guide and TechRadar, and prior to that ran the Outdoors and Wellness channels on T3 (now covered by Matt Kollat and Beth Girdler-Maslen respectively).