The Connection Between Acne and Stress

connection between acne and stress

For some people, the minute they find themselves in a stressful situation, their complexion reflects their emotions. Whether they’re studying for an important test, putting the final touches on a work presentation, planning for the holidays, or dealing with other issues, their skin erupts with blemishes and acne. Is it just their imagination – or do acne and stress really have a connection? Read on to decide for yourself.

Only Anecdotal Evidence

Frankly, acne flare-ups may not just be in your imagination. Physicians have long suspected that acne is worsened by stress, but have had no solid research evidence to back them up. Doctors feel that while emotional stress doesn’t trigger a new outbreak of acne, some anecdotal evidence shows it will worsen in someone who is already suffering with it. Current research suggests that they may be on the right path; the severity of acne increases with rising stress levels.

A recent study found that, during final exams, college students reported having more severe acne flare-ups compared to other times during the semester. Increased acne correlated with increased stress. Unfortunately, scientists still don’t understand how one affects the other.

What Doctors Know

Skin cells that produce oil – or sebum – also have stress hormone receptors. Sebum mixes with bacteria and skin cells to produce acne cysts around hair follicles. During stressful times, more oil may be produced, clogging more pores and forming more acne. One way doctors suspect that stress creates acne is that, often times, an anxious person will begin to pick at their skin, causing more damage and acne flare-ups. The vicious circle continues – a stressed person picks at their skin, causing more blemishes, which in turn stresses the person out, which causes more sebum to be produced, creating more acne, which makes them pick.

Treating Stress and Acne

Unfortunately, just reducing your stress levels will not reduce your acne. However, patients have reported that as their skin began to clear, their stress levels dropped as well. Skin issues are generally chronic problems that need long-term treatment. These treatments include using retinoids, antibiotics, or benzoyl peroxide either taken orally or applied to the skin. In severe cases, Accutane or hormonal treatments may be required.

To prevent scarring or to prevent increasing incidents of acne, it is imperative to keep your hands away from your face. While sitting at a computer, watching television, relaxing, etc., do not rest your face in your hands. Dirt and oil get rubbed into the skin on your face, irritating pores and causing blemishes. In addition, change your pillow cases at least once a week. Finally, picking at your acne is also the worst thing you can do to your skin. Picking will spread the bacteria, cause more blemishes, and worsen the problem by inviting infection and scars.

If you are bothered by acne spots, scars, or other skin damage, try Skintrium’s Enhanced Facial Spot Eraser which helps to fade dark spots, remove uneven color, and give you back your beautiful glow in just a few weeks.