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Can stress cause acne or acne results in stress?

stress acne


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Two things that we would love to avoid are stress and acne! Dealing with them on a one to one basis is a task in itself; but our condition worsens when you have to deal with them together in the form of stress acne. Stress has always been touted as one of the major causes of acne and acne results in a lot of emotional stress.

Does Stress Cause Acne?

Though stress has been often thought to accelerate the breakout of acne, there were no scientific evidences to support it for a very long time. However, in 2003 Stanford University conducted a study wherein they observed that during the exam time, students faced major acne flare-ups. During this period, the students’ stress levels were much higher than during a normal time. This study established that there is a definitive connection between stress and acne.

When your body identifies stress, it starts to direct the flow of blood and oxygen to the areas which are essential for dealing with the stress. Because of this, the blood flow and oxygen is withdrawn from other places such as your skin. The lack of sufficient blood and oxygen affects your skin negatively, making it dull, lifeless and dehydrated. This in turn makes your skin prone to pores getting blocked and breakouts.

Also Read: How To Find The Best Dermatologist For Acne Treatment?

Depression Acne vs. Stress Acne

Unlike stress acne, there is no proven study which establishes a direct link between depression and acne. There are certain symptoms of depression which can indirectly result in breakouts or flaring up of the existing acne. These symptoms include constant fluctuations in the hormone levels, feeling of helplessness, low self-esteem, lack of proper diet, etc. During depression, an individual’s body is unable to cope up and it results in stress acne and other types of acne.

It is believed that depression and acne stress can go hand-in-hand as depression often causes massive stress which in turn makes an appearance in the form of stress acne.

How To Get Rid Of Stress Acne?

The only efficient and effective way to stop stress related acne is to control your stress levels. So in order to understand how to reduce stress acne, you need to know how to control your stress. Below are some ways which can help you in dealing with all the unwanted stress and thereby avoiding unnecessary acne due to stress –

  • Chemical peel – By far the safest and quickest way to get rid of stress acne is by chemical peeling. Dermatologists perform this treatment in less than half an hour and a specialized acne control peel can help in alleviating acne in less than 2 -3 months. Chemical peel is a controlled exfoliation of the upper layers of the skin which are deformed and acne ridden. This helps in removing these layers and bringing rejuvenated skin from beneath which is free from acne. These peels use plant extract based solutions, designed to suit your skin type and condition. Salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, etc. are most effective in treating acne.
  • Laser toning – Controlled beam of light is used to target the skin tissues which are covered with acne, and this causes a controlled thermal injury. This enables the production of more collagen from beneath and thus replacing those tissues with newer ones and thus removing acne effectively in a few sessions. It is one of the safest and most advanced treatment for stress acne.
  • Intralesional injections – For pus filled nodular stress acne intralesional injections with corticosteroids are used to settle down the inflammation by injecting directly at the site of acne on skin. This helps in immediate relief and evening out of the skin

Also Read: Comedonal Acne – Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Additionally, stress must be alleviated and mental peace and wellness regimen must be opted. This includes –

  • Meditation – Meditation is effective in not only relaxing your mind and body but also to help you in reducing any risk of depression and anxiety. Learn different breathing techniques which will keep you calm and stable. Make sure that you practice mediation every day for acne stress control.
  • Exercise – Exercising on a daily basis is one of the best ways to keep your stress levels down as well as keep your mind and body fit. Exercise is often described as the best stress relieving tool. Just ensure that you always wipe down the equipment and have a thorough wash after every exercise session so as to avoid getting any infections or allergies.
  • Hydrate – The importance of drinking at least 8 glasses of water in a day cannot be stressed upon enough. You need to keep your body hydrated from within. When your body is under stress, it usually goes through dehydration which in turn will increase your stress levels again. It is a vicious cycle which can be dealt with only by drinking adequate water.
  • Diet – When an individual is under stress, they often miss out on eating a healthy and nutritious diet. This lack of essential nutrients and vitamins leads to stress acne. So make sure that you are having a balanced diet which includes green vegetables, fruits, proteins, etc.
  • Talk – Sometimes your stress levels can be easily taken care of just by discussing your problems with a family member, friends or a counsellor. By discussing and talking out about your problems, you are ensuring that the stress is not bottled up within your body.

If you notice that your acne due to stress is still persisting, then you can consult your dermatologist who might suggest a laser treatment in order to get rid of stress acne.

Also Read: Teenage Acne – Causes, Treatment & Prevention Tips

How To Prevent Stress Acne?

Prevention is always better than cure, so how to prevent stress acne? There are very simple ways to prevent the occurrence of stress acne –

  • Exfoliation is one of the best ways to get rid of all dead skin cells. It will help you in clearing the pores and remove all the dirt and grime from your skin.
  • Keep your skin hydrated by moisturizing it with hydrating creams. People often believe that they should avoid oil-based moisturizers as it will make their skin oilier. However, this is not true for every case. Lack of proper moisturizer can make your skin further dry which in turn will stimulate the production of sebum (natural oil)
  • A healthy diet which contains fruits and vegetables having vitamin A, C and E will go a long way in keeping your skin healthy.
  • Get a good night’s sleep to keep your stress in control and to avoid breakouts.
  • While under stress, people form few habits unconsciously such as picking or popping the acne. This should be strictly avoided as it can leave you with acne scars.
  • In order to reduce stress, some people turn to junk food and unhealthy eating habits. This habit should be changed by replacing junk food with healthier food items.

Also Read: Cystic Acne – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment Options

FAQ’s 

How Stress-Sweating Affects Acne?

There is a common misconception that sweating helps in removing all the waste and toxins from your body. Though this is true, it does not help in removing them if the waste is clogged in the pores. In fact, the salt which is excreted by the sweat glands can further clog your pores and result in breakouts.

What does stress acne look like?

A stress acne basically looks like an increased number of whiteheads and blackheads.

Is Stress & Anxiety equal to Acne?

Stress and anxiety together will definitely result in acne.

Stress Eating and Acne relation

Stress eating occurs when individual turns to unhealthy eating habits to combat their stress levels. The junk food and other food items may succeed in controlling the stress levels; however, after a point of time it will result in breakouts which in turn will again trigger your stress levels.

Also Read: Hormonal Acne – Causes, Treatment And Diet To Follow

Stress acne is not a major problem unless it is a chronic acne. Simple steps can help you to control your stress and avoid getting any acne due to stress. Keeping your skin clean and healthy at all times will also ensure that any kind of stress will not cause unnecessary acne problems.

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About The Author

Minu Manisha Babel

Minu Manisha Babel

An MBA by chance, a trainer by passion, a psychologist by interest and a voracious reader by parentage. I enjoy traveling, public speaking, exploring and writing on topics relevant to our health and well-being.


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