Does Stress Cause Acne?

What is Stress?

An expert explains what stress is, the physical and mental effects of being stressed, when it becomes a problem and when to seek help.

Can stress cause acne?

When the body is stressed, there is an increase in stress hormones. This creates an imbalance and therefore the body experiences some changes.

How does the body react to Stress?

Stress does not directly induce acne, if it did everyone would have acne. However, it is on the list of factors that can aggravate it. Generally, people tend to cope with stress in different ways e.g

  • Hair lose or balding
  • Migraines or headaches
  • Ulcers
  • Psychologic or physical side effects

Stress can therefore make any underlying condition worse.

How Does stress cause acne?

Studies by researchers have shown that students tend to get more acne during the examination period.

When the stress level increases many of the body hormone levels are altered accordingly. The corticosteroid, adrenaline and androgen levels all increase during periods of high stress levels.

How Does Stress Aggravate Acne?

Whenever the body encounters stress, the adrenal gland retreats into overdrive. The male hormones called androgens, which this gland produces, therefore increases.

As the androgen levels increase so does the acne breakouts. Especially in women, because women produce a much greater % of androgens than men. This explains why stress appears to have a greater effect on females than men when it comes to acne breakouts.

Therefore, stress can cause an increase in some of the adrenal hormones, this can trigger a response in the sebaceous glands. The result is more sebum (waxy/oily matter) and if you have the other prerequisites for acne: a plugged follicle, bacterial overgrowth in the follicle, an over active immune response then acne breakouts will happen.

  • If it was merely stress everyone would be walking around with acne.
  • It does increase the amount of oil your skin secretes, which can clog pores and cause breakouts.
  • The Effects of Stress
  • Learning how to manage stressful situations can have a profound effect in the treatment of acne.

Stressful people tend to do things differently:

  • Consume more food than normal, higher in sugar and fat, alternatively they may consume extremely less.
  • Struggle to sleep such that the lack of sleep may impact on the day to day activities in a negative way.
  • React differently in tense situations like getting angry more easily and maybe no motivation to get things done at work or at home.

The general effect over time, therefore, becomes weight gain or loss, increased blood pressure, and eventually worsened acne.

The long term impact of more cortisols – ‘the stress hormone’- may lead to the reduction of the body’s immune system and ultimately more acne flare-ups, as the Propionibacterium acnes – P Acnes – bacteria flourishes in the body’s depressed immune state.

However, industry experts are split on whether stress causes acne or worsens it. Either way it does increase the amount of oil the body secretes. This then results in clogged pores and acne breakouts.

Stress Cause Acne – How can you tell if it is acne stress related?

Be vigilant and aware of when and where acne flare-ups occur and examine your own stress levels from the week before the breakout.

If the acne breakout (after about a week) seem to match up with the same time that the body is experiencing high stress levels then there is probably a link. Alternatively, if the acne is a specific zit in a specfic spot it may be due to environmental factors.

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