It is known that anger expression can be associated with increases in cortisol secretion and lowered immune function of the sort seen with other kinds of stress. Gouin et al. at Ohio State Univ. have examined the effect of anger on wound healing by following 98 community volunteers who agreed to receive a standardized blister wound on their non-dominant forearm. They found that wounds of those who expressed little anger or displayed anger in a controlled fashion healed more rapidly than the hotheads. The hotheads exhibited higher cortisol reactivity during the blistering procedure. This enhanced cortisol secretion was in turn related to longer time to heal.
The data show more rapid wound healing in subjects with high anger control.
Measurement of the rate of transepidermal water loss (TEWL) through human skin provides a noninvasive method to monitor changes in the stratum corneum barrier function of the skin. TEWL was measured using a vapor pressure gradient estimation method. TEWL decreased as the barrier was restored; thus, monitoring of TEWL over time allowed objective evaluation of wound healing.