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Emotional triggers for dry skin – Dove

Ask an expert: how can your mind and body affect your sensitive and extremely dry skin?

Knowing how to care for sensitive and extremely dry skin can feel like a minefield – especially if you’re still working out the cause. The problem is that so many different things can trigger your symptoms. Senior clinical psychologist Dr Reena Shah is an expert in the link between mind and skin. We caught up with her to discuss her thoughts on self-care and how focusing on feeling your best on the inside can be as important as any dry skin products you apply on the outside.  

Our emotions are linked to our skin. 

“It’s all linked,” says Dr Reena, “anxiety, depression, stress – all different types of mental health problems have a huge impact on skin and vice versa.” It’s a vicious cycle – part biological, part psychological. The biological link: when you are stressed the 'stress axis' is activated in your body, releasing the 'stress hormone' cortisol. “High levels of this hormone in your body can trigger flare-ups. The psychological part of the cycle is then introduced – as well as increasing worry, the flare-up can exacerbate psychological difficulty like anxiety or depression,” she explains.

Do a bit of detective work.  

If you think your flare-ups are down to your emotions or stress, the first thing to do is keep a diary, so you know exactly when they are triggered. “Record what’s happening” says Dr Reena, “ask yourself if anything has changed – such as difficulties or stress at work or difficulties in a relationship. You’re looking for patterns.”


The next step.  

If you think your symptoms are psychological the first thing to do is try and get a referral to see a psychologist that can do an assessment. 

If scratching is something you struggle with, psychologists can do a specific therapy to help you with that too. Dr Reena explains the different types of scratching: “Emotional scratching is when you scratch, even if you don’t have an itch. And habitual scratching is when you’ve been scratching for so long, that when you feel itchy you automatically scratch.” If you think you’re in the second camp try Dove DermaSeries itch relief soothing body lotion, which is specially formulated to help relieve dry, itchy and inflamed skin. 

It’s possible to manage your emotional triggers. 

Relaxation can make a big difference to dry skin conditions. “When you’re anxious or stressed” explains Dr Reena, “your heart races so fast that the quickest way to bring it down is to control your breathing. If you can do that, you’ll relieve stress and help reduce the flare-up.” If you want to know how to relax your mind at home there are apps you can try, Dr Reena recommends Calm or Headspace. “Balancing your week is also important, it sounds simple, but try and make time for yourself”. Try settling down with a book or take a moment to yourself with a relaxing shower.

Focus on your skin care routine too.  

“You’ve got to find the right cream for you” says Dr Reena. “Then try to work out a comfortable, therapeutic way to put your cream into your routine.”  While some eczema and dry skin lotions can feel sticky or heavy to use, the Dove DermaSeries range has creamy formulas designed to feel enjoyable – perfect for building a routine around. With a silky texture, our DermaSeries expert repairing balm has a fast absorbing formula that sinks into your skin.  

To download the Headspace or Calm App, visit Apple’s App Store on iPhone or Google Play’s App store for Android.