Inflammation And Its Effect On Beauty

June 17, 2015

cartoon of woman with red spots on her skin

Inflammation is often overlooked when it comes to beauty and skin care, and we are not just talking about acne. Well and Good is a great resource when it comes to health, beauty and lifestyle. Here’s what they and their experts had to say about inflammation and its effect on beauty.

So really, what is inflammation? When medical pros talk inflammation, they’re referring to a combo of heat, pain, redness, and swelling that can happen externally or inside the body, explains functional medicine physician Susan Blum, MD.

That (not-so-fab) four crops up when the immune system gets “poked” by some kind of irritant, like a food you’re sensitive to, an environmental toxin, or damaged tissue, Dr. Blum says. In response, the body calls immune cells and fluid to the irritated area to help kill whatever’s there, which is ultimately a good thing. But if it’s happening for too long, it can be very, very bad.

“The inflammatory response should be self-limited,” Dr. Blum says. “All of those inflammatory molecules, immune cells, and fluid can really disrupt the functioning of wherever [the inflammation] is located.” That’s why chronic inflammation’s at the root of so many diseases, from Alzheimer’s to cancer.

The beauty connection

While food plays a role beauty-wise (dermatologist-author Nicholas Perricone, MD, has famously extolled the benefits of an anti-inflammatory diet for youthful, glowy skin), some experts believe there’s a key component Perricone evangelists tend to undersell: stress.

“In my opinion, the biggest culprit when it comes to inflammation is not diet, but stress,” says New York dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD. Stress signals to the adrenal glands to release adrenaline, she says, which then “commandeers” blood from the skin, leaving behind that wan, washed-out look.

Stress also releases other hormones, like cortisol, that contribute to inflammatory skin disorders, like acne, Dr. Wechsler explains. And tense people are prone to pimple-picking, she adds, which just exacerbates the inflammatory response.

For the full report on inflammation and  tips on how to reduce stress, read more on Well and Good here.

Also, read Kari Gran's Natural Skin Care Routines.