Can Stress Make Acne Worse?

Do you suffer from regular acne breakouts? Are you also stressed out a lot of the time? There could be a connection!

Evidence has shown that the more stressed you feel, the more prone to skin problems you are, with more acne cysts and pimples erupting as your stress levels rise. 

While emotional stress doesn’t trigger acne in someone who isn’t prone to the condition, someone already suffering from this skin disorder will often find that their problem gets worse in periods of severe stress.

The Evidence

For many years, experts have suspected a link between acne and stress, however most of the evidence at that time was anecdotal. Over the past ten years, though, more research has taken place which shows that the experts were right all alone.

A study from Stanford University in 2003 revealed that college students suffered from more acne flareups when they were taking exams – a time linked to excessive stress – compared to when they weren’t being tested.

Cells which produce sebum (an oily substance which mixes with bacteria and dead skin cells to clog up the hair follicles resulting in acne cysts or pimples) also have receptors for the stress hormones. 

If somebody who is already prone to acne goes through a stressful time, more sebum is produced naturally by the body. This clogs the hair follicles and allows more acne to develop.

Stress, Acne And A Dangerous Cycle

Often, when people are feeling stressed, they have a natural tendency to pick at their blemishes, making them worse overall. A condition called acne excoriee involves squeezing and picking at blemishes compulsively due to stress. 

Rather than having pimples on their skin, they pick at them until they turn into scabs, which in turn can lead to scars. Such patients often turn a mild case of acne into serious and lasting scars.

Treating Stress Related Acne

Although reducing stress won’t eliminate acne completely, it can help to make the problem more manageable. Taking measures to limit the amount of stress that you’re exposed to can make your skin calmer and fewer breakouts to occur.

So, how do you go about reducing your stress? Try stress management techniques like yoga, muscle relaxation, tai chi, hypnosis or a guided imagery relaxation program. 

When your stress levels return to normal, you’ll break out less frequently and any pimples which do develop will tend to be less red, less intense and smaller. Also, conventional treatments will work more effectively when you’re less stressed.

When you’re suffering less stress, you’ll also feel able to care for yourself more effectively and you’ll have a higher energy level. 

This means you’ll be more likely to use acne treatment products, remove your makeup fully and wash properly with a medicated facewash. All of these things will aid the appearance of your skin and will help to limit the number of acne breakouts you experience.

As you can see, there is a clear link between stress and the development of acne. However, by reducing the level of stress you’re under, the better your skin will look and the better you’ll feel.

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