Psychological stress and epidermal barrier function

Clin Dermatol. 2012 May-Jun;30(3):280-5. doi: 10.1016/j.clindermatol.2011.08.014.


The skin is the organ that acts as a barrier between the outer and inner environments of the body. It is thus exposed not only to a wide variety of physical, chemical, and thermal insults from the outside world but also to inner endogenous stimuli. Stress, once an abstract psychologic phenomenon, has taken research's center stage in recent years. The "mind-body connection" is now less of an obscure New Age term and more of an elaborate physiologic pathway by which bilateral communication occurs between body and brain. Dermatologists and dermatologic patients have long acknowledged the effect of stress on the skin and its capability to initiate, maintain, or exacerbate several skin diseases. Because disruption of epidermal barrier integrity may be important in the development of some common skin diseases, it is crucial to understand its vulnerability to psychologic stress.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Epidermis / physiology*
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Permeability
  • Rodentia
  • Skin Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Neuropeptides