It is not at all an exaggeration to say that we live in a time of unprecedented stress. The reason for ‘stress’ may differ from person to person, but it does exist among us and also has an impact on our lives in one way or another.
But does stress cause acne? Well, read on to find the answer.
Acne Basics – What Actually Causes Acne?
Most of us have been through this or at least have known someone who has experienced an acne breakout. For some, this can be just a couple of pimples, while for others it can be extreme. Although it’s likely to hit you in your teens, it can even occur later.
Acne occurs when your skin is exposed to dead skin cells, excess oils, bacteria, and clogged pores. While certain things trigger acne, the exact cause is yet unknown. It is related to the hormonal changes that occur during teen years or pregnancy, while following certain heavy medications, or even if you have a family history of acne.
With different acne severity levels and types of acne, this skin condition can affect your skin in a multitude of ways. More mild forms can include whiteheads and blackheads while moderate to severe inflammation can lead to pimples.
What is Stress and How Does it Develop?
Stress works differently for every person. For some, it can be a stimulant, while for others it’s a pressure. It all depends on individual personalities as some may panic during minor issues while others remain calm even while dealing with complex situations.
Stress is diverse and can have various causes from frustration and distress to psychological burdens and illness. When you’re under a stressful situation, your body goes into an alert mode causing high blood pressure while producing a stress hormone like cortisol and adrenaline. In short, if it becomes increasingly difficult to overcome this feeling, stress can further contribute to deteriorating health.
Stress and Acne: What’s the Connection?
Stress does not cause skin problems or acne directly. However, studies say that stress can make it worse for people who already have severe acne or have acne prone skin. Let’s find out how.
Stress has the potential to disrupt your metabolism. Your stress level can affect your digestion and sleeping pattern, you may feel depressed, frustrated, and even out of balance. And, for many, stress can also impact the skin. You may feel itchiness, redness and sometimes, even blemishes may appear. So, emotional stress has been associated with acne.
Also, when you’re stressed, the hormones produced can influence the working of sebaceous glands which can further intensify acne. So, when an acne-prone person experiences a lot of stress, the sebum-producing cells are regulated, causing more oil production. This oily skin, in turn, clogs your hair follicles leading to acne formation.
Additionally, it is believed that the healing process of wounds, including acne, tends to slow down for people under stress. This means, the pimples stay longer than usual and are also more susceptible to turn severe.
What Does Stress Acne Look Like?
Stress acne is more like the breakouts that you may have experienced during your teenage years, as it is basically caused by the overproduction of oil. It generally occurs on the parts of your face that tend to get oily – nose, forehead, and chin. At this time, your skin will probably look inflamed as well as greasier.
Additionally, stress acne can also come as a combination of pimples, red bumps, whiteheads, and blackheads. One sign that can help you determine that it is stress acne is that a stress breakout will lead to several pimples at once. On the contrary, if it’s a simple hormonal breakout, it will happen one at a time unless you’re experimenting with a new skincare product.
Above all, people who have a family history of acne are more prone to flare-ups when they’re stressed.
Is It Possible to Get Rid of Stress Acne?
The answer is yes, and it’s the same way how you treat your normal acne. Psychological stress is bad for your overall well being and while you may feel helpless to stop engaging in stressful situations, opting for self-care can do the trick. All you need to do is be vigilant with your skincare routine when you have stress acne.
Here are some ways that can help you get rid of stress acne:
Increase the Use of Breakout-Fighting Ingredients
If you’re using a normal cleanser in your skin care routine, turn to the one that contains salicylic acid as it will help in removing dead skin cells and excess oil from your skin’s surface. This will, in turn, help to prevent clogged pores. You can also try a skincare product that contains benzoyl peroxide as it tends to reduce inflammation by lowering the production of acne-causing bacteria.
If you are planning to use both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to treat stress acne, be sure to add a moisturizer to your skincare routine as both these ingredients can contribute to skin dryness. Using a moisturizer will prevent irritation while keeping your skin hydrated. Consider buying lightweight lotions instead of thick oils and creams. Also, avoid vitamin E serums as they can feel heavier on your skin.
Check Your Diet and Alter if Required
Stress acne is related to inflammation. So, what you eat can also affect them in a way. It’s best to avoid sugar and carbohydrates as they can add up to your inflammation, making you more prone to stress acne.
Don’t Touch Your Acne
While the increasing frustration may tempt you to pop a pimple on your own, refrain from doing so as it can actually spread the infection while leaving a scar on your face. It’s better to keep your hands off from your face and let your acne heal naturally on its own.
Few Tips to Reduce Stress Acne
Remember, the only way to prevent or reduce stress acne is to avoid stress. So, focus more on staying calm and becoming more resistant to everyday stress and anxiety. You can do this by indulging in:
Find which method relaxes you the most – it can be anything like yoga, meditation, a walk, a talk with a friend, a talk with your therapist, or simply by acknowledging the reason behind the stress. Choosing any of these will help you relax and calm your mind. This will, in turn, develop a positive attitude and also improve your self-confidence.
Sports and Exercises
Did you know? Playing sports releases hormones called endorphins. These hormones make you feel better and also aids relaxation. Above all, playing sports also contributes to overall fitness.
A Healthy Diet
You can deal better with stress by shifting to a healthy, balanced diet that is full of fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Drink plenty of water, and try to reduce the intake of caffeinated beverages and alcohol as they can trigger insulin production and add to the stress. Research says that switching to a low glycemic diet can help you with stress acne.
Stress acne can be frustrating and unfortunately, it cannot be cured overnight. However, following the above-mentioned tips like altering your diet and skincare routine may help you deal with the stress. Also, focus on things that can help you relax, boost your self-confidence, and above all, contribute to both mental and physical fitness.