Why Does Stress Cause Acne? (An Esthetician Explains)

For many of us, a quick glance at the number of unread emails on our phone have our stress levels climbing even before we get out of bed in the morning.

By the time we get through all the traffic and into work, our anxiety levels are already creeping higher and higher.

So, if the challenges of modern life are taking their toll not only on your mind, but also your body, and therefore your skin, you are definitely not alone.

Ever notice that your complexion seems to be stressing out right along with you, resulting in more pimples or even more serious cysts? Well, it is definitely not your imagination.

YES, stress can and does cause acne (breakouts) in many people, and in this article, I will explain HOW and WHY. 

how does stress cause acne

NB: I can show you how to never have acne again. If you have acne and want it gone, read this message.

How Do Acne Breakouts Happen?

Acne breakouts happen when our pores get clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and white blood cells. So let’s try and understand this seemingly simple process a bit better, shall we?

Our pores are an opening to a follicle made up of a single hair and sebaceous glands.

The sebaceous glands release an oily substance known as sebum which travels up and out of the pore and it then remains onto your skin to keep it moisturized and lubricated.

Moreover, sebum is responsible for keeping your skin protected from pollution, dirt, and environmental aggressors. It has mild bactericidal properties that can protect your skin from certain types of bacteria.

As we already mentioned above, acne develops when the pores on your skin become clogged with excess sebum and a mixture of accumulated dead skin cells, white blood cells, and bacteria buildup.

clogged pores
An example of clogged pores. Source.

The mixture then blocks the pores and prevents sebum from escaping, meaning it will remain trapped inside the follicle.

And once it stays trapped inside the follicle, it creates a perfect environment for bacteria to grow and thrive, triggering your immune system to fight against it, which is essentially how acne happens to be.

Can Extra Stress Make You Skin Breakout?

Can Extra Stress Make You Skin Breakout

If it seems as though you experience more breakouts when you are stressed, you may be noticing something more than a coincidence.

In other words, high stress levels won’t trigger the new onset of acne per-say, but it may definitely worsen matters in someone who already has this skin disorder.

Stress and acne have long been suspected to go hand in hand. Therefore, the effects of stress on our skin have been closely studied, only to be confirmed by a controlled study from 2003.

Increased acne severity is associated with hormonal imbalances such as the spike of the hormones cortisol and adrenal androgens (also known as the stress hormones).

These directly stimulate the sebaceous glands into increased oil production mode, which leads to clogging of the pores, inflammation, pimples, and full-blown acne – breakouts.

Additionally, stress has been closely associated with increased colonization of P. acne bacteria, which is the main acne-producing bacteria that lies on the skin; however, no proof has been given if stress can really affect the multiplication of this particular bacteria.

But besides hormones, natural oils, and bacteria, the skin also loses some of its ability to protect itself because its barrier becomes compromised and weakened by stress.

For adults, this can lead to further complications, such as long-term inflammation that leads to premature signs of skin aging.

Stress has a mean reputation of damaging the proteins that hold collagen and elastin together, causing wrinkles, loss of suppleness, and visible loss of elasticity.

Moreover, stress can disrupt metabolism and this may cause loss of sleep, bad digestion, depression, anxiety, irritability, and even aggression.

Additionally, stress can actively interfere with your daily skincare routine as we all tend to skip on our skincare regimens from time to time after a long, exhausting and stressful day.

While you may end up needing to take several approaches to clear your skin, reducing your stress levels may end up being an important enough reason for you to prevent more serious health problems.

How To Control Stress?

How To Control Stress (and acne)

It is completely unrealistic to think that you can avoid stress completely.

We are all exposed to situations in our lives that make us stressed, uncomfortable, and anxious, and it is ridiculous to expect that this is something that can be completely cut off from your daily life.

It’s completely normal to become stressed and anxious when you’re late for an appointment, or an important meeting but are still nowhere near to your final destination due to crazy traffic.

However, it is also important to understand and accept these situations because they simply won’t go away just because you hate them.

So, here are a few useful ways to help you control stress:

Make time for yourself.

Taking the time to do something you enjoy, even if it’s just for ten minutes of your day, can positively impact your health and well-being.

It doesn’t really matter. W are all different; therefore, different things make us happy, comfortable, and satisfied.

Breathing exercise is a great way of lowering stress levels.

Remember, stress has a seriously negative impact on your well-being, and simply breathing in and out can distract your mind from a stressful situation for a moment.

Additionally, you can always try taking a walk or committing yourself to do regular exercise. It is good for your mind, body, and soul.

Pushing yourself to actually do something for yourself will automatically have a positive impact on your thinking.

Get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep is another good way to start the journey of successful stress management. Seven to eight hours is recommended for a well-functioning metabolism.

Sleep plays a vital role in good health and well-being throughout your life. Getting enough quality sleep at the right times can help protect your mental and physical health, quality of life, and safety.

During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.

A balanced diet can help.

A balanced diet is important because your organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively.

Without good nutrition, your body is simply more prone to diseases, infections, stress and acne, fatigue, and poor performance in everyday tasks.

At the core of a balanced diet are foods that are low in unnecessary fats and sugars and high in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and oils.

How To Get Rid Of (Stress-Caused) Acne

How To Get Rid Of stress caused Acne

As we already found out from the text above, stress can indeed cause aggravated acne, inflammation, and weakened skin barrier.

While there is plenty you could do to avoid stress on a daily basis, turning to topical solutions to get rid of the pesky acne breakouts is definitely a valid option.

Here are several things you should do to get rid of acne:

Cleanse regularly.

Excessive dirt buildup on the surface of your skin can very well cause blockages of the follicle, trapping sebum, dead skin cells, and bacteria inside the pores.

Proper skin cleansing clears your pores of debris to prevent a buildup of dirt and allow the natural oil to reach the skin surface unimpeded.

This will significantly decrease your chances of having that annoying acne – breakout before an important event.

Exfoliate your skin.

Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells from below.

This opens the way for moisturizing products to penetrate into your skin easier, making them more effective.

In short, a regular exfoliation routine will leave your skin looking fresh and healthy, as well as significantly minimize future acne – breakouts.

Protect your skin!

Understanding how sunscreens work is important as this is definitely one of the most important things you need to do in order to protect your skin.

Sunscreens contain UV-blocking ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide and these are in charge of preventing the damage that UV rays can cause to our skin.

The depletion of the ozone layer has increased our risk of sun damage, therefore, sunscreens help prevent discoloration, dark spots, premature aging, wrinkles, saggy skin, and help you maintain a smoother, brighter, younger-looking, and more even complexion.

I hope reading my article helped you understand why stress can negatively affect your skin and acne.

If you are struggling with stress-provoked acne, don’t forget to drop me a comment so we can work together on saving your skin!

The Acne Solution: Your Ultimate Guide To Flawless Complexion

An extensive, no-nonsense course showing you how to never have acne again, from a licensed Esthetician specializing in oily/acne-prone skin.

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