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How your skin reacts to stress

Since my teenage years, I noticed that my acne worsened during exam times. I always wondered why this happens, but now I recently came across a study by Stanford University in the Archives of Dermatology, 2003, which proved that acne of college students flares up during exams when they are more stressed. I got my answer! Now that I find my daughter in the same situation, it seems that everyone is in the same boat. Some notice the stress factor, while others don’t. 

If you also experience worsened acne breakouts during stressful times, it’s something more than just a coincidence. Although stress does not cause acne directly, it triggers hormones that lead to breakouts on skin that are already prone to developing pimples. Taking different approaches to reduce acne does not seem to help, as the problem you have to tackle is your stress. I’ll tell you more!

Connection Between Your Skin and Stress Hormones

Several different factors lead to acne, including androgens and cortisol hormones. When you are stressed, your endocrine system secrets these hormones that increase sebum production. It is an oily substance that your glands naturally produce near your hair follicles. As a result, your pores get blocked, thereby causing an inflammatory reaction called acne.

Signs that Your Acne is Caused Due to Stress

If you are constantly feeling stressed due to any reason and your acne won’t clear, it is probably a sign that your acne is caused due to stress. You have tried everything to remove acne but nothing is working, probably your stress is triggering your acne. Be watchful for a few weeks and notice if your acne breaks out more intensely when you are stressed. Keep a journal and take notes. You will find a correlation soon.

Do your acne breakouts match up with your stressful times? If yes, then there is definitely a link. However, if the timing of your breakouts and stress are different, may be environmental factors and other conditions are responsible for your acne. Notice if your pimples always erupt on the same spot of your face, such as the area where you hold your cellphone or where you wear your mask.

Apart from stress itself, your acne may also be connected with some stress-driven habits, such as drinking too much coffee or using stimulants that increase cortisol production. Give attention to your personal hygiene habits as well, such as not washing pillowcases regularly, using another person's face towel, not removing makeup before going to bed, etc. Eating too much junk and oily food? Try to change your diet plan and notice the difference.

How to Handle Stress-Related Acne

No matter what’s the cause of your acne, you need to have a dedicated skincare routine to follow every day. However, if stress if the major contributing factor for your breakouts, all you can do to improve your skin is to reduce your stress and feel relieved. Be mindful of your stress triggers and try to overcome them with preventative methods like meditation. Eat healthy, stay active, and get rid of bad habits like smoking. The benefits will start showing on your skin soon!

If this approach does not work, talk to your dermatologist who may prescribe medicines and suggest strategies that may benefit you.




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