Stress is an inevitable thing in our lives. As much as we hate it, we can’t avoid it entirely.
It sneaks up on us and makes us feel overwhelmed and frustrated. As a result, it causes fatigue and exhaustion, which then causes acne breakouts in our bodies.
What is stress acne?
Stress acne is a condition that develops when the body releases stress hormones in response to an external trigger. When these hormones circulate in the blood, they can make their way to your skin.
Once there, they increase the production of sebum (oil) and inflammation. As you know, excess oil and inflammation are common causes of acne breakouts.
Stress acne is a common problem among people who are experiencing chronic stress or trauma. However, anyone can develop it occasionally if they experience sudden stress—like getting stuck in traffic on the way to work or arguing with a loved one.
It’s important to note that stress acne isn’t limited to facial breakouts. It can develop anywhere on your body where you have sebaceous glands producing oil for your hair follicles—most commonly on your scalp, back, chest, and shoulders.
What causes stress acne?
The main reason stress causes acne is because it increases the production of cortisol and androgen hormones. Cortisol stimulates sebum production, the natural oil found in skin glands that lubricates your hair, nails, and skin.
The more cortisol in your body, the more oil is produced. Sebum makes its way up through the pores on your face to reach the surface of your skin and provide a protective layer over it.
However, when you’re stressed out, your body produces excess sebum, which can clog pores and lead to breakouts.
Additionally, increased cortisol levels caused by stress cause higher amounts of androgens which trigger an increase in cell growth faster than normal.
As a result, dead skin cells are released into pores at a higher rate where they can clog pores or cause irritation resulting in inflammation, which causes acne scars to form.
Stress also makes your body release histamines which promote inflammation throughout the entire body—not just on the face. This is why you might find yourself breaking out all over—from neck acne to chest acne as well as back acne and even butt pimples.
Ways to Prevent Stress Acne
Here are some of the proven ways and remedies you can better prevent stress acne:
- Practice stress management. If a stressful situation arises, try taking deep breaths or take a moment to step away and reflect on the situation.
- Get regular exercise. Physical activity boosts endorphins, which can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels.
- Practice healthy sleep habits. Sleep gives your body time to repair itself, and missing out on sleep can increase cortisol levels, making you more likely to develop acne.
- Eat a healthy diet. We know that eating nutritious foods helps you feel better overall and promotes good health inside and out.
In addition to these lifestyle changes, several skin care practices will help keep breakouts at bay:
- Cleanse your face twice daily with warm water and a gentle cleanser meant for acne-prone skin (there are plenty of options available at drugstores). Don’t forget to wash the area between your neck and chin as well!
- Use an alcohol-free toner after cleansing. This helps remove any leftover residue from cleansing without drying out or irritating your skin.
- Moisturize with an oil-free formula designed specifically for acne-prone skin (some moisturizers contain ingredients that can cause breakouts).
- Avoid using products that have added fragrances. Fragrances irritate the skin, making it more likely to develop blemishes than if it were left alone.
- Only use makeup products labeled “noncomedogenic.” This indicates they won’t clog pores or contribute to excess oil production on your face (which inevitably leads to pimples).
You should also avoid touching pimples as much as possible because it just makes them worse. Try not to touch them at all until they heal.
Natural Remedies for Stress Acne
- Acne can be treated with various essential oils you can buy on your next payday. Try tea tree or lavender oils, which can be diluted with a carrier oil like argan or jojoba, then applied directly to the skin.
Clove oil is also good for treating acne because of its antibacterial properties, while rosemary essential oil, neem oil, and calendula oil are also effective in fighting pimples.
- Aloe vera gel is suitable for all kinds of skin problems, including acne. It has antibacterial properties and can be used as a spot treatment to heal cystic acne breakouts.
- Honey is excellent for acne-prone skin because it’s an anti-inflammatory agent that helps reduce redness and swelling while keeping bacteria at bay.
- Lemon juice also contains citric acid, which helps unclog pores by exfoliating the top layer of your skin. If you have sensitive skin, you should dilute it before applying it to your face.
- Apple cider vinegar has strong antifungal properties that can help treat bacterial infections on the face caused by stress pimples. It’s best to mix into a paste with water so it doesn’t dry out too much of your skin but still removes any unwanted bacteria.
It’s difficult to keep stress levels under control. The best way to deal with acne caused due to stress is to get rid of it by adopting some self-care habits and methods mentioned above.
In case you have moderate or severe acne, you can consult a dermatologist or endocrinologist and follow the treatment plan they prescribe. You may also make lifestyle changes such as hiring a personal trainer after getting a gym membership to help manage your stress levels.