Acute psychological stress over short periods of time can be beneficial for your skin, says a study.
Healing was brought about by the anti-inflammatory effects of glucocorticoids - steroid hormones - produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress, the findings showed.
"Under chronic stress, these same naturally-occurring steroids damage the protective functions of normal skin and inhibit wound healing," said Peter Elias from University of California, San Francisco.
"But during shorter intervals of stress, they are beneficial for inflammatory disorders and acute injury in both mice and humans," Elias added.
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"We believe that our findings explain why this otherwise harmful component of the stress response has been preserved during human evolution," he added.
The scientists studied mouse models of three types of common skin irritations: irritant contact dermatitis, caused by exposure to an irritant such as a soap or solvent; acute allergic contact dermatitis, of the sort caused by poison ivy or poison oak; and atopic dermatitis, or eczema.
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The researchers found that the stressed mice showed significantly reduced inflammation and faster healing in all three types of skin irritation.
The study appeared online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.