Skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, and acne are known to worsen under stressful conditions. Researchers now suggest that immune-mediating neuropeptides are related to this phenomenon.
Immune-mediating neuropeptides may provide an avenue for addressing inflammatory skin diseases including psoriasis, said an expert at the 73rd American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting.
Richard D. Granstein, M.D., says, “Most patients and physicians believe that stress influences many inflammatory skin diseases. It is said that psoriasis, rosacea and acne all get worse with stress. This is a clinical impression; I believe it’s almost certainly true.” He is the George W. Hambrick, Jr., Professor and chairman of the department of dermatology at Weil Cornell Medical College.
Several studies support this impression anecdotally, he adds, but controlled studies are rare: “Where do you find a control group that’s not under stress?”
One report showed that, after a large earthquake in Japan, the likelihood of atopic dermatitis (AD) flares rose in proportion to the severity of local damage. Dr. Granstein says that potential confounding variables include the fact that “perhaps people in the earthquake zone did not apply their ointments or creams because they had other things to worry about.”
Other studies show that combining pharmacological treatment with stress reduction interventions clears psoriasis faster than medical interventions alone, he says. Regarding AD, NC/Nga mice raised in a normal environment develop an itchy, eczema-like rash. Those raised in a cleaner, specific pathogen-free setting do not, unless exposed to psychological stress.