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Pre-Kindergartners Need 10 Hours Sleep Per Night

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Experts say a consistent bedtime routine can help children sleep more soundly. Maria Manco/Stocksy
  • Researchers say young children who get at least 10 hours of sleep per night have a better transition into kindergarten.
  • Experts point out, however, that many busy working families can struggle with getting their children to bed on time.
  • They say limiting screen time and providing a consistent bedtime routine are among the ways to help children sleep better.

Young children transitioning to kindergarten could benefit from at least 10 hours of sleep per night, a new study suggests.

That’s significant when you consider that more than half of children in the United States ages 6 to 17 get less than 9 hours of nightly sleep.

In their study, the researchers said children who slept 10 hours or more nightly had an easier time during their first kindergarten year socially and emotionally.

They also reported the children with adequate sleep had better learning engagement and performed better academically than kids who slept less than 10 hours nightly.

“These findings are more confirmation of the widely held position that sleep is essential to our overall functioning,” Michelle Hintz, PsyD, a child and family psychologist in Florida, told Healthline. “Sleep is important for helping regulate our appetite, hormones, and immune system. For children, sleep also contributes to emotional regulation, frustration tolerance, and general mood. Every parent can attest to knowing when their child is overtired and that is no fun.”

The researchers also reported that getting more than 10 hours of nightly sleep was particularly important rather than total sleep in 24 hours. In other words, your kids might not be able to nap their sleep troubles away.

That said, parents shouldn’t draw too many firm conclusions from this small study, said Dr. Rebekah Diamond, a pediatric hospitalist in New York City and assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University.

“What constitutes ‘good’ sleep or enough sleep is complex and different for each person and child,” Diamond told Healthline. “When looking at this study, or any study, it’s important to remember that correlation doesn’t equal causation. It’s not surprising to see that consistently getting 10 hours or more of sleep each night was related to better kindergarten outcomes because we do know how important sleep is for social interaction, learning, mood, and physical well-being.”

“However, there are limitations on how much we can conclude that this is causation based on the study,” she added. “There could be other factors contributing to better sleep and better school adjustment, for example. The study is also relatively small, so while it’s great to see data that helps support how important sleep is for kids, we can’t generalize too much. Sleep is important, but it’s just one piece of the bigger puzzle of kids’ health.”

Experts say that children might have a hard time falling and staying asleep for many reasons and there are limits to what you can control.

“[There could be] busy family routines in the evening, after-school activities, etc.,” Hintz explained. “This can be exacerbated when families have both parents working and multiple children with after-school activities and events. Parents’ work schedules often necessitate children attending after-school programs until 5 or 6 p.m., followed by running around to activities, dinner, baths, and then bed. For some families, getting children to be before 9 p.m. is nearly impossible.”

However, experts agree that parents should pay particular attention to screen time — using a computer, watching TV, or browsing a smartphone — right before bed. Studies have shown a link between screen time and disrupted sleep and learning.

“For children this age, sleep hygiene is a parent’s responsibility,” Hintz continued. “Fortunately, this is not difficult to accomplish since we are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Children thrive on consistency. One of the most important recommendations is the elimination of electronics and screens (of any kind) at least 30 minutes before bedtime. That means choosing something other than joining your child for an episode of CocoMelon before turning off the lights.”

Diamond agreed.

“There are countless reasons that sleep may be inadequate or low quality. Medical conditions and stressors can cause sleep issues. Consistent bedtimes with bedtime routines, limiting screen time in the bedroom and around bedtime, and working on promoting your sleep as a parent are some of the most important steps to take in optimizing your child’s sleep,” Diamond said.

While the study might not be large enough to prove a causal link between overnight sleep and kindergarten outcomes, experts say there is virtually no drawback to encouraging your children to get more and better sleep at night.

“Efforts to promote a favorable transition to first-time schooling should pay particular attention to sleep hygiene and regularity of 10-plus hours of nightly child sleep established before the start of Kindergarten,” the study authors wrote.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, for instance, recommends children between ages 2 and 5 get no more than an hour of screen time on weekdays and three hours on the weekends.

Hintz recommends a low-key three-step process for better bedtimes.

“Parents are encouraged to set up a three-step bedtime routine that maintains an order,” she said. “For example: bath, book, and bed. This is a wonderful time for spending quality time with your child. For 5-year-olds, this routine can take up to an hour but provides the opportunity for guilt-ridden parents to share snuggles and cuddles, stories, and giggles.

“Tucking a child into bed for the night should be a short, final step in the process rather than a long, drawn-out event,” she added.

And don’t feel bad about reaching out to your child’s doctor if you’re struggling, Diamond said.

“Any concern at all is always worth talking about with your pediatrician,” she explained. “It’s never your job to decide whether or not something needs investigation or treatment. Your worry is enough, so reach out to your kid’s doctor with any questions or concerns.”

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Health

11 Reasons to Use a Vitamin C Serum

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If you have your head in the skin care game, you’ve likely heard of vitamin C serums.

Vitamin C is touted as one of the best ingredients on the market for pro-aging support — and the key to maintaining a smooth, even, and glowy complexion.

Although you’re probably getting vitamin C in your diet, there’s no way to guarantee it’s going straight to your skin. Using serums and other topical products is the most direct way to reap these benefits.

Read on to learn why you should add vitamin C serum to your routine, how to introduce a new product, and more.

There are plenty of benefits to using vitamin C on your skin. For example, vitamin C:

  • is safe for most skin types
  • provides hydration
  • can brighten your skin
  • can reduce redness
  • can reduce hyperpigmentation
  • can reduce the appearance of under-eye circles
  • promotes collagen production
  • may help prevent sagging
  • may protect against sun damage
  • may soothe sunburns
  • may help wound healing

1. It’s safe for most skin types

Vitamin C has an excellent safety profile. Most people can use topical vitamin C for an extended period of time without experiencing any adverse reactions.

A 2017 review of research notes that vitamin C may cause minor skin irritation in concentrations above 20%. Because of this, its concentration often ranges between 10% and 20% in skin care products.

Vitamin C is also safe to use with other skin care actives, including alpha hydroxy acids, retinols, and SPF.

2. It’s hydrating

According to a 2017 research review, most healthy skin and organs contain high concentrations of vitamin C, suggesting that vitamin C accumulates in the body from circulation.

Review authors noted that topical vitamin C penetrates the skin best in the form of ascorbic acid.

Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, another vitamin C derivative used in skin care, has been shown to have a hydrating effect on the skin, according to a 2022 review. It decreases transepidermal water loss (TEWL), allowing your skin to retain moisture better.

According to a 2019 study, an antipollution, antioxidant serum containing Deschampsia antarctica extract, ferulic acid, and vitamin C reduced TEWL by 19 percent, improving the skin barrier function.

3. It’s brightening

Vitamin C can help fade pigmentation (more on this below!) and smooth the skin’s surface to reduce dullness. This gives skin a youthful glow.

A 2017 review notes that vitamin C use has been shown to impede melanin production. Melanin is the pigment responsible for skin color.

By inhibiting melanin production, vitamin C can help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation. It may also help brighten your skin’s appearance.

4. It helps reduce redness and even out your skin tone

Vitamin C has also been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory agent through its antioxidant capacity, according to a 2015 review. This means it soothes your skin and can reduce puffiness.

Vitamin C’s anti-inflammatory action may help:

  • neutralize free radicals that cause oxidative damage
  • optimize the immune system to discourage an inflammatory immune response

The anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin C can also help reduce redness, which in turn can create a more even complexion.

The combined reduction of dark spots, redness, and irritation makes for a clear, smooth skin tone.

5. It helps fade hyperpigmentation

Since it impedes melanin production, vitamin C can actually fade hyperpigmentation.

Hyperpigmentation — including sunspots, age spots, and melasma — occurs when melanin is overproduced in certain areas of the skin. It can also happen in areas where acne has healed.

Vitamin C inhibits melanin synthesis by downregulating the activity of an enzyme known as tyrosinase. It’s widely used in dermatology for reducing pigmentation of hyperpigmented spots on the skin.

It’s also been used to treat gingival melanin hyperpigmentation (gum hyperpigmentation), though studies are limited.

Dealing with acne? In addition to vitamin C serums, there are other options for treating hyperpigmentation acne.

6. It reduces the appearance of under-eye circles

Vitamin C serums can help smooth out fine lines by plumping and hydrating the under-eye area.

Although vitamin C is more effective at reducing overall redness, some people say it can help alleviate discoloration associated with under-eye circles.

According to a small 2019 study on three treatments for dark circles, vitamin C mesotherapy resulted in a significant improvement in the pigmentation of under-eye circles. However, some participants also reported a burning feeling.

Some other ways to help get rid of under-eye bags include using a cold compress and adding retinol to your skin care routine.

The skin under your eyes is thin and sensitive, so it’s best to stick to products specifically designed for the under-eye area.

7. It promotes collagen production

Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that depletes over time. Lower levels of collagen can lead to fine lines and wrinkles.

Vitamin C is well known for boosting collagen production through the process of collagen synthesis. In fact, collagen synthesis can’t happen without vitamin C.

This is because vitamin C is the essential cofactor for the two enzymes required for collagen synthesis:

  • prolyl hydroxylase, which stabilizes the collagen molecule
  • lysyl hydroxylase, which provides structural strength

You can also boost collagen production through your diet.

8. It may help prevent skin sagging

Collagen production is tied to skin elasticity and firmness. When your collagen levels begin to drop, your skin may also begin to sag.

Applying a vitamin C serum may boost collagen production, resulting in an overall tightening effect, reports a 2017 review. This is true for sagging due to natural aging, oxidative stress damage, or extreme weight loss.

This means it can help reduce the appearance of sagging skin, making your skin look firmer and more toned.

9. It protects against sun damage

Excessive exposure to oxidant stress via pollutants or ultraviolet (UV) irradiation is associated with depleted vitamin C levels in the skin.

Vitamin C levels are also lower in more mature or photodamaged skin, though researchers are unsure whether this is a cause or effect.

Sun damage is caused by molecules called free radicals. These are atoms with a missing electron. Free radicals search for other atoms from which they can “steal” an electron — and this can lead to significant damage to the skin.

Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect healthy skin cells by “giving” these free radicals an electron, rendering them harmless.

10. It may help soothe sunburns

In addition to minimizing redness, vitamin C accelerates cell turnover, according to a 2017 review. This replaces the damaged cells with healthy new ones.

Topical application of vitamin C, in combination with vitamin E and other compounds, has also been shown to reduce injury due to UV irradiation (aka sunburn), notes the above 2017 review. This combination also decreases the inflammation induced by excessive UV exposure.

It’s important to note that researchers found that vitamin C alone is only minimally effective at reducing sunburn on its own.

11. It generally helps boost wound healing

Given its effects on sunburn, it should be no surprise that topical vitamin C application can speed up overall wound healing. Healthy wound healing reduces your risk of inflammation, infection, and scarring.

In fact, having a deficiency in this key vitamin can make wounds take longer to heal.

A 2017 review found that taking vitamin C supplements had a positive effect on skin healing and growth by boosting antioxidant levels in the body and the skin.

This is partly because wound healing is associated with collagen formation, and vitamin C boosts collagen production.

Although topical vitamin C is generally well tolerated, all skin products have the potential to cause side effects.

You should always do a patch test to assess your risk of allergic reaction. Here’s how:

  1. Select a small area of skin that’s easy to conceal, like your forearm.
  2. Apply a small amount of product and wait 24 hours.
  3. If no side effects occur, you can apply it to your face. Discontinue use if you develop a rash, redness, or hives.

When it’s time for a full application, follow the instructions on the product’s label.

It’s possible to have a skin reaction after repeat exposure, so it’s best to introduce new products one at a time, spaced out by a few weeks.

Vitamin C serum is typically applied once or twice per day. A good rule of thumb is to cleanse, tone, apply vitamin C serum, and then moisturize. Be sure to apply skin care products with clean hands.

It can be safely used with other active ingredients, although using alongside products containing niacinamide may make vitamin C less effective.

According to a 2020 review, a combination of tyrosine, zinc, and vitamin C was shown to increase the bioavailability of vitamin C 20 times more than just vitamin C alone.

Make sure to check your product’s use-by date. If the product has darkened or otherwise changed color, the vitamin C has likely oxidized. Although the product is still safe to use, it no longer carries the same benefits.

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COVID-19 Symptoms in Kids: What to Know

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For the past few years, COVID-19 has dominated public discourse. At first, countless conflicting reports led to confusion that it was just like the flu, and that it didn’t have the same impact on children as it did on adolescents and adults.

As we head into our third year of research on COVID-19, more is known about how the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 affect various people in our communities. We now know that pediatric infection rates are similar to that of adults, though many children may not have any symptoms.

In fact, researchers in one 2022 pediatric study examined antibody tests. They found evidence that up to 77% of children have already had COVID-19. We now know that children can, in fact, contract the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

For parents and caregivers, this can cause anxiety — is that cough and runny nose just a cold that’s circulating through day care, or something more serious?

This article sheds light on the most common symptoms of COVID-19 in children, and what to do if you suspect your child has it.

Experts note that COVID-19 symptoms in children are similar to those documented in adults. However, the symptoms in children are usually not as severe.

In many cases, children may be asymptomatic. This means that no symptoms may be present even though they test positive.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • fatigue
  • body aches or muscle pain
  • sore throat
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • loss of taste or smell
  • rash, often on toes, lower extremities, or hands

It’s important to keep in mind that as new coronavirus variants emerge, new symptoms may arise. Others can shift in severity.

For example, when COVID-19 first appeared globally in 2019, a loss of smell and taste was one of the hallmark signs that a person might have contracted the virus.

But with later variants, such as many of the Omicron variants, a loss of taste and smell is less frequently reported as a primary symptom, whereas a sore throat is often more common.

When in doubt, it’s always best to reference the latest information shared by reliable health organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Also note that many common COVID-19 symptoms are similar to those of the common cold, flu, stomach flu, and other upper respiratory infections.

Before jumping to conclusions, get your child tested to confirm they have COVID-19.

Even though children tend to have a less severe reaction to COVID-19 than older populations, one serious risk COVID-19 poses to children is the potential to develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

Researchers still don’t fully understand the link between MIS-C and COVID-19. But they do know that since the appearance of the novel coronavirus, many children with MIS-C had either an earlier coronavirus infection or were exposed to someone who had COVID-19.

MIS-C can affect multiple organ systems across the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, and brain. If left untreated, MIS-C can be deadly. In most cases, it’s easily treated.

If your child has symptoms of MIS-C, get them evaluated by a doctor immediately. Symptoms associated with MIS-C include:

  • fever
  • bloodshot eyes
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • skin rash
  • vomiting

Another potential symptom of COVID-19 in young children is croup. Croup is the inflammation of the airways that causes:

  • a barking cough
  • stridor (high pitched, coarse sound when breathing)
  • distressed breathing

If your child has symptoms of croup, it’s worth getting evaluated and tested for COVID-19 or other possible causes.

Studies are still being conducted to determine how COVID-19 specifically affects babies.

One 2022 study from Poland looked at infections in infant populations (newborns up to 12 months old) during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (March through December 2020). Researchers noted the majority of cases in this group were mild.

Of the infant cases reviewed — even though 94% were hospitalized — 276 cases were mild, six were moderate, 32 were asymptomatic, and none were reported as severe cases.

Similar to adults, the most common symptoms were low and high grade fevers. However, other reported symptoms included:

  • cough
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • vomiting
  • rash
  • abdominal pain

Researchers noted that one of the most common secondary diagnoses that followed COVID-19 in infants was pneumonia. It was found in 70 of the 300 cases reviewed.

On the whole, the Polish study noted that infant cases of COVID-19 tend to represent only 1% to 2% of all cases, even when looking at general case counts in other countries. But, in countries with more prevalent testing, this percentage could increase to a range of 5% to 13%.

Still, infant cases were generally mild compared with adult cases, which were often more severe.

A 2022 study from Germany suggests that at-home rapid antigen tests tend to be less precise or accurate than the RT-PCR test, which healthcare professionals perform.

Experts have consistently questioned the effectiveness of at-home tests because of known issues regarding low sensitivity to detect the coronavirus across all age groups.

This means there’s a higher possibility of false negatives for at-home rapid tests. Coupled with a heightened chance of improper nasal swabbing in younger populations, there’s an increased risk of getting incorrect results from an at-home rapid antigen test performed on children.

Parents and caregivers should keep in mind that a rapid test only offers results for a snapshot in time. It can only provide sufficient results if there’s enough viral load for the test to pick up.

The coronavirus’s incubation period ranges from 2 to 14 days, with the average being 3 to 6 days, depending on the coronavirus variant.

So, a negative rapid test result doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the clear if the test is taken fewer than 14 days after a known exposure. It could mean the virus is not yet detectable.

If you suspect that your child may have been exposed to COVID-19, your first step should be to get them tested.

While at-home tests might provide an initial answer, it’s always best to take your child to a physician or clinic for an RT-PCR test. This test type offers higher accuracy and has a lower false-positive rate.

Plan to keep your child at home from day care or school if COVID-19 is suspected to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others.

Currently, there’s only one antiviral medication for COVID-19 that’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in babies and children under the age of 12: remdesivir (Veklury).

It’s only administered intravenously at healthcare facilities and used for children with an increased risk of developing severe symptoms.

The CDC currently recommends that if your child tests positive for COVID-19, treat the day you first noticed symptoms as day 0 and the following day as day 1. The organization recommends that children be kept at home for at least 5 days. Ideally, try to isolate them from other members of the household.

Depending on the severity of the disease, isolation may end on different dates. Children with mild symptoms who show improvement with no symptoms on day 5 of isolation can end isolation.

If symptoms persist or worsen, continue isolation until your child is fever-free for 24 hours without the need for fever-reducing medication and until symptoms begin to improve.

If you’re not sure when to end isolation, talk with a healthcare professional.

When you’re caring for small children, isolating them from yourself or other family members can be a tall order — especially if they’re babies and not self-sufficient enough to manage basic tasks without adult supervision.

In this case, you’ll want to wear a mask when interacting with your child. Wash your hands frequently to avoid transmitting the coronavirus to other surfaces or family members.

Additionally, avoid sharing personal items, like cups, utensils, towels, and bedding. Likewise, be sure to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces throughout shared areas of the home, like the kitchen, living room, and bathrooms.

Anyone can contract the coronavirus and develop COVID-19. But according to health organizations around the world, babies and children consistently tend to contract the virus less frequently and in a milder form than in older populations.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as of early September 2022, there have been a total of 14.7 million cases of COVID-19 reported in children in the United States since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

That’s out of a total of 79.4 million cases across all age demographics in the country. The child case count represents 18.4% of the total U.S. case count.

With an active case of COVID-19, it’s important to talk with a doctor to determine what type of treatment is needed.

Depending on your child’s age and the severity of their illness, a doctor may recommend different treatments. A very mild case may just need home remedies and rest. Others might be better served by introducing a therapeutic or antiviral medication.

Regardless of which option a doctor recommends, keeping your little one hydrated and trying as best as possible to isolate them from other members of the household is important.

Preventive solutions are best

Preventive solutions are often best at minimizing your child’s risk of severe COVID-19. This means that if your child is of an approved age to get any of the COVID-19 vaccines, it’s recommended that they get vaccinated according to the recommended schedule and receive boosters as needed.

It’s important to note that COVID-19 vaccines prevent severe infections that could lead to serious illness, hospitalization, or death. However, they do not necessarily prevent contracting the virus itself.

To date, COVID-19 vaccines have been proven safe and effective for babies, children, and adults. Getting vaccinated is one of the best measures to prevent severe COVID-19.

The CDC offers comprehensive information regarding which vaccines are approved in which age groups, and the recommended schedules for receiving them.

COVID-19 continues to be an issue of concern. While babies and children tend to contract the coronavirus less frequently and usually develop a milder case of COVID-19, they are not immune to it.

To date, vaccination is the best preventive method to reduce the chances of hospitalization, getting very sick, or dying from COVID-19. If your baby or child contracts the coronavirus, seeking immediate medical attention can ensure that they receive treatment that can help recovery and reduce symptoms.

When in doubt, follow the guidelines as outlined by authoritative health organizations such as the CDC and NIH. If your child has any COVID-19 symptoms, get them tested.

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Your Skin on Stress: Acne, Hair Loss, and More

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Stress can present itself through skin conditions like acne, inflammation, and more. How can you tell it’s from stress?

Your skin is your body’s largest organ. External issues can be a telltale sign that not all is well underneath.

While bottled serums and sheet masks possess a certain level of aesthetic and soothing allure, a solid skin care routine may not be enough to provide calm for your body’s complex systems.

The increased jump in cortisol can jumble up the messages your nerves decide to send, causing anything from an outbreak of hives to fine lines.

While this correlation between stress and skin has been known since ancient times, formal studies revealing the deeper connection only date back to the last two decades.

And yes, your diet or skin care products can cause skin concerns, but it’s also important to consider stress as a potential culprit — especially if a rash appears out of nowhere or persists long after you’ve tested for everything.

We’ve outlined eight proven ways that mental, physical, and hormonal stress changes your skin. But more importantly, we also tell you what you can do about it.

Even before looking internally, there’s one beaming factor that can physically stress out your skin and weaken its defenses: ultraviolet (UV) radiation. A carcinogenic (cancer-causing) component of sun exposure, it can have a negative effect on the skin.

Whether in the form of natural sunlight or more artificial means such as tanning beds, ultraviolet rays signal blood cells to rush to the exposed area in an attempt to repair it. This manifests as sunburns.

Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation may lead to darkened blemishes, moles, and even skin cancer. The best way to combat UV rays and sun stress is by applying sunscreen every morning.

On top of sunscreens, you can also oppose sun damage from the inside out. Research has linked certain nutrients to the ability to boost your skin’s natural sun protection.

Limonene, a chemical derived from citrus peels, has been studied for use in cancer prevention medicines. Eating citrus peel might also provide sun protection.

Fruits high in antioxidants and vitamin C (like strawberries and pomegranates) have the ability to protect your cells from the free radical damage caused by sun exposure.

It’s important to remember that eating these foods does not replace wearing sunscreen. You should still wear sunscreen in addition to considering eating foods high in limonene, vitamin C, and other antioxidants.

Hives, psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and rosacea are often a result of inflammation, but studies also show that when your brain is on overdrive, it can actually compromise your skin’s protective abilities.

In other words, stress makes it harder for your skin to regulate and stay balanced. It’s no wonder you might have an extra breakout during a sleepless week or after an intense argument.

Inflammation can also cause acne. But remember, some skin conditions like rosacea can look like acne, too. It’s important to note the difference before treating the conditions, including whether your irritation is a result of stress, allergies, or a harmful product.

Fighting stress inflammation begins with eliminating the cause. Finding out the exact reason behind your stress might be difficult or impossible, but there are still ways to tame the fires with food, exercise, or therapy.

Whether it’s the impending dread of finals week or spontaneous heartbreak, we’ve all likely suffered at the hands of a stubborn pimple (or two).

Stress is highly associated with acne, especially for women. It can mix up our skin’s nerve signals, causing imbalanced hormones and chemicals that increase oil production.

While it’s nearly impossible to remove stress from the equation entirely, there are ways to overcome it. Keep 5- and 10-minute stress-relief tricks handy, and try longer stress-management techniques, like exercise, to increase your body’s abilities to adapt.

And most acne reacts to topical treatments, too. The secret ingredient in our most beloved anti-acne products is often a beta-hydroxy acid known as salicylic acid.

This oil-soluble chemical penetrates pores extremely well for unclogging and cleaning, but this doesn’t mean that it’s exempt from its own set of cons. Too much or too strong salicylic acid can dry out and even irritate your skin.

So with careful application in mind, nightly spot treatments are helpful for targeting troubled areas without harming the skin in the surrounding areas.

There’s no one way to experience stress. Have you ever unconsciously pulled your hair, bitten your fingernails, or picked at both? That could be the stress hormone, cortisol, triggering your body’s fight-or-flight response.

Before you assume it’s stress, though, you might want to check in with a dermatologist and doctor to rule out other potential issues. For example, scaly or waxy skin could be eczema. Or hair loss or peeling nails could be due to insufficient nutrition from skipping meals.

In the time being, avoid extremely hot showers to prevent further damaging your skin and scalp. Bring more consistency to your day by aiming to exercise regularly and eating a nutrient-dense diet of fruits and vegetables.

The skin might get thinner in cases of abnormally high cortisol levels. Cortisol results in the breakdown of dermal proteins, which can cause the skin to appear almost paper-thin, as well as bruising and tearing easily.

However, this symptom is most noticeably associated with Cushing syndrome. Also known as hypercortisolism, this hormonal disease includes additional symptoms such as glucose intolerance, muscle weakness, and a weakened immune system (you may experience increased infections).

If you think that you may have Cushing syndrome, make an appointment with a healthcare professional. In most cases, medication can be prescribed for the management of cortisol levels.

In the face of severe stress, your epidermis can quickly become weakened, increasing your risk for infections and environmental pathogens. This also slows down your skin’s natural ability to heal wounds, scars, and acne.

To repair your skin barrier, you can use products with glycerin and hyaluronic acid.

The same remedies you use to combat sun exposure apply here, too. Consume antioxidant-rich food for a similar effect and strengthened internal healing.

In addition to keeping skin hydrated internally (through water consumption), focus on using products based on zinc, sal (Shorea robusta), and flaxseed oil. These ingredients are shown to your keep your skin moisturized and provide a packed healing punch for wound healing.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a comment regarding the undeniable dark circles around your eyes, then you know just how much sleep deprivation reveals itself physically. And yep, that’s stress, too.

Our bodies keep adrenaline running on a constant cycle while in fight-or-flight mode, including late at night.

If you’re already trying meditation and yoga for sleep, ramp up your bedtime routine by using essential oil diffusers, turning on white noise machines, and avoiding screens in the 2-hour time span before sleep.

For sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea, CBD oil and melatonin pills may act as more reliable remedies.

From the furrow of a brow to a frown, psychological stress inevitably finds a way to make permanent evidence of our emotions.

So what’s one to do about it? You can try face yoga. Arguably safer than Botox, face yoga can lead to similar results, although the commitment to doing this every day might a hard to do.

By targeting the facial muscles we subconsciously use every day, through pointed massage techniques in high-tension areas such as our foreheads, brows, and jawline, these exercises can counteract developing wrinkles and leave skin flexible and resilient.

For additional assistance, applying facial pressure with a chilled jade roller activates the lymphatic system, which can also reduce puffiness and the appearance of stress damage on the skin.

Stress does not manifest the same in every person, but every person ultimately experiences stress to some extent. Instead of comparing stress levels with others to gauge whether your stress is “all that bad,” choose to care for yourself when you need it.

While we can’t control the myriad ways stress rears its head, we can control how we choose to react to it. Remembering to care for ourselves and for our skin is one of the small ways we can slowly but surely reduce stress.

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