Can Stress Cause Acne?

stress acne

For most of us, some level of stress is unavoidable at certain points in our lives. Events of the last 18 months have proven to put additional strain on many people, and continues to do so as the pandemic ebbs and flows. Stress can also pile on from other sources, including family, relationships, career and everything in between.

If you’ve noticed higher levels of stress in your life, you may see the results of it in your skin. Acne and stress are correlated, so it is no surprise that more and more people have been experiencing acne breakouts and wondering what is the source.

While stress can certainly result in breakouts, those who are already prone to the condition may find that their breakouts are much more extreme when they are dealing with high levels of stress. If you believe your breakouts may be the result of too much stress, read on to learn why stress can cause acne and how you can successfully treat the condition.

How can stress cause acne?

In previous articles, we talked about where pimples come from. A pimple will develop in a hair follicle that becomes clogged with oil, dead skin cells and acne causing bacteria. When we experience high levels of stress, our body produces hormones such as cortisol that can boost oil production and increase inflammation. Together, this creates the perfect environment for a pimple to develop. Knowing the biology of how acne develops and our bodies’ reaction to stresss, it is clear that the two can go hand in hand.

Certain kinds of acne may appear in certain parts of the body. For example, women who experience hormonal acne often see breakouts on their chin and jawline. Stress-related acne tends to develop on the oiliest parts of the skin; specifically, your T-zone. Also, acne that is caused by stress frequently appears all at once. 

Treating Stress Related Acne

The most important thing you can do to stop stress-related breakouts is to address the source of your stress. While you may not be able to completely eliminate the stressors in your life, it is critical that you manage them by making healthy lifestyle choices. By doing this, you can decrease the production of stress hormones and avoid the overproduction of oil.

If you are dealing with a stressful situation or are struggling to deal with world events in a healthy manner, find a trusted friend or family member or a therapist that you can confide in. Talking it out is a simple step, but it can be one of the best ways to release stress and feel better about any situation.

It is also critical that you control the things that you can control, including the choices that you make related to your health and wellness. Mindfulness practices can be very beneficial in bringing higher levels of calm and increasing gratitude.

Some simple ways to practice mindfulness everyday include:

  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Getting creative
  • Walking outdoors
  • Cooking
  • Exercising
  • Learning something new

In addition to a daily mindfulness practice, make sure that you are taking care of your body by getting the right amount of sleep and eating well. Being overtired and sleep deprived can actually contribute to stress and hormonal imbalances that can disrupt oil production. 

If you struggle to fall or stay asleep, try starting a nighttime routine packed with restful and relaxing rituals. Nighttime routines are highly individual, so do what is most relaxing to you. Some ideas include taking a warm bath, playing relaxing music, lighting a candle or practicing breathing exercises. Be sure to make your bedroom free of distractions like televisions, smart phones and any other technology.

Eating well is the pillar of a healthy life and body. If you are consuming too many processed food or foods high in sugar, you are not giving your body the nutrients it needs to function. Those kinds of foods can also trigger hormonal imbalances that could lead to acne breakouts. Eat as clean as possible, including fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and lean meats.

Seek Medical Treatment for Acne

Reducing your stress is step one. However, you want to address the changes in your skin right away. Make an appointment with your Atlanta dermatologist so you can ensure that you are using the right products for your skin. Your doctor may also recommend prescription medications to combat the acne and prevent new acne from developing. Before starting any skin care or medication regimen, it is important that you consult with your dermatologist to ensure that you are choosing the right products for your unique skin.

Acne and stress are related, but there is something you can do about it. If you live in the Atlanta area and are suffering with acne and believe it is due to stress, follow the tips in this article and schedule a consultation with Dr. Straughn of Buckhead Dermatology today.