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Does Stress Cause Acne?

What is stress?

The stress could be from all sort of things or events. It can be situations or events that put pressure on us such as times where we have lots to do and think about, or do not have much control over what happens. It can also be our reaction to being placed under pressure. It is the feelings we get when we have demands placed on us that we find difficult to cope with.

What is stress acne?

When in stress, the stress hormones rise and trigger your oil glands to produce more oil, which then triggers acne flares and that breakouts that will usually appear in the oiliest areas of forehead, nose, or Chin (T-Zone). When this is the case, the acne is usually accompanied by dilated pores, shininess, blackheads, whiteheads, and uneven or grainy skin. The stress acne is often accompanied by redness and itchiness.

What causes acne

Acne occurs when excess oils, dead skin cells, bacteria, and sometimes hair block pores in your skin. However, the exact cause of why this happens is not clearly known. Some things are generally thought to cause acne. These include:

  • Hormones during pregnancy and the teen years
  • Certain medications including birth control pills
  • Family history of acne

Once pores on your skin are blocked, they become irritated and will swell into a pimple or bump.

How stress affects acne

Some studies have shown that stress cannot directly cause acne. However, if you already have acne, stress does make it worse. Researchers have found that wounds, including acne, are much slower in healing when a person is under stress. Slower healing of acne means that the pimples stay longer and are more susceptible to increasing in severity. It can also mean that more acne is visible at one time because it takes longer for each pimple to heal during a breakout.

Does it affect me physically?

You might find that your first clues about being stressed are physical signs, such as tiredness, headaches, or an upset stomach. When we feel stressed, we often find it hard to sleep or eat well, and poor diet and lack of sleep can both affect our physical health. This in turn can make us feel more stressed emotionally. Also, when we feel anxious, our bodies release hormones called cortisol and adrenaline which can make you feel physically unwell and could affect your health in the longer term.

Treatment

If you have severe acne, consult your dermatologist who can create a treatment plan that will help clear your skin. Acne products that you buy at the store cannot treat severe acne. The most common topical prescription medications for acne are

  • Retinoids and retinoid-like drugs. Drugs that contain retinoic acids or tretinoin are often useful for moderate acne.
  • These work by killing excess skin bacteria and reducing redness and inflammation.
  • Azelaic acid and salicylic acid.

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