How Is Acne Treated
Over-the-counter products work to help clear up acne for some teens. It may take time to find one that works best for you some may not help and others may irritate skin. OTC acne products come in different strengths. The most popular and effective OTC acne-fighting ingredient is benzoyl peroxide. Another ingredient, salicylic acid, can help dry up pimples.
If OTC products don’t work for you, get a doctor’s advice. Doctors can prescribe special gels or creams, pills, or a combination of both. It may feel a bit awkward to talk about your acne with someone, but your doctor is trained to help get your skin looking its best.
It’s tempting, but popping or squeezing a usually won’t get rid of the problem. Squeezing can actually push infected material and pus deeper into the skin, which can lead to more swelling and redness and even scarring, which can be permanent.
If you’re taking a prescription acne medicine, finish your entire prescription even if your skin clears up, unless your doctor says its OK to stop. If you stop too early, there’s a chance your skin could break out all over again.
Eating nutritious foods can help keep you healthy and your skin will benefit from getting enough vitamins and minerals. But you don’t need obsess about what you eat or how often you wash your face to control acne. If no OTC product works for you, talk to your doctor or a about how to manage acne.
Talk To A Doctor About Hormone Pills
Birth control pills can help to prevent acne, by helping to regulate the hormones that may make acne worse.
However, these pills carry risks, so it is essential to review the benefits and side effects before making a decision.
Spironolactone, a medication often used to treat high blood pressure, may also help in cases of severe acne. However, spironolactone has many possible side effects, so it is best to speak to a doctor.
How Do I Know What’s Stressing Me
As with any problem, the first step to solving it is to identify the cause. The mental health charity Mind helpfully identifies many major causes of stress in your life, including but not limited to:
- Having or adopting a child
- Coordinating a complex event, like a family gathering
Even some events that we consider to be happy, such as getting married, can be both enjoyable and stressful at the same time. This is known as eustress.
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Other Ways To Get Rid Of Stress Acne
Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your skin, too.
Dark leafy greens, omega-3 rich wild fish, avocado, and chia seeds are just a few of my favorite anti-stress foods.
Limit or avoid caffeine, sugar, alcohol, and other low-quality foods as they tend to exacerbate stress and stress hormones.
For more skin-clearing recipes and skincare tips and check out my Clear Skin Plan, a doctor-approved, science-backed 90-day program to clear your skin from within
How To Handle Stress
If you and your dermatologist already have an acne treatment plan in place, you should continue to maintain your daily routine during stress-related flareups. If you notice that the breakout is severe, very painful, or not clearing up, you should consider contacting the U.S. Dermatology Partners team to schedule an in-office appointment or a teledermatology appointment or to discuss your concerns and make adjustments to your treatment plan. If youre experiencing a breakout caused by stress but you dont usually have acne-prone skin, you may need to make some pretty significant changes to your daily skincare routine. Namely, you need to incorporate the three ingredients that help to combat breakouts salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinols.
- Salicylic Acid unclogs pores and reduces oil buildup
- Benzoyl Peroxide anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial to combat increased inflammation and bacterial infection
- Retinols accelerates cellular turnover
You dont necessarily need to use all three products at once or even every day. Instead, retinols are usually good everyday skincare products for cellular renewal that have numerous benefits, including helping with acne breakouts. Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide products can be used only during breakouts or as spot treatments.
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Where On Your Body Does Stress Acne Pop Up
Typically, acne that’s been brought on by stress develops in the same areas you usually get acne, Dr. Truong says. So if your acne during a non-stressful time shows up on your forehead, then you can expect your stress acne to pop up on your forehead too. Other common places stress acne appears is along the jawline and chin. Although less common, it can also develop on the chest and back.
But going back to the jawline and chin: This past year, Dr. Lamb has seen an increase in breakouts in those areas due to the “maskne,” which is acne caused by facial irritation from wearing a face mask. ” follows the pattern of stress-induced acne. So is from the mask or is that from the stress? That begs the question,” she says.
Cut Back On Foods Linked To Acne
Doctors are not certain of the connection between foods and acne. However, a growing body of research suggests that some foods may trigger acne in certain patients.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, foods with a high glycemic index may increase the risk of developing acne or make acne worse.
These potentially problematic foods are sugary and high in carbohydrates. Some examples include:
Dairy products, especially skim milk, may also increase a persons risk of developing acne. A person may want to cut back on a particular food group, to see if their skin improves.
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When Is It Time To Visit A Dermatologist
If your stress-related acne breakouts or chronic skin condition flareups arent improving after a few days, are very painful, or cause serious difficulty in your daily activity, its time to call U.S. Dermatology Partners. As part of our ongoing commitment to help our patients and communities stay healthy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, were still offering quick, easy teledermatology sessions, so you dont even need to leave home or add any extra stress to your schedule to talk to us. Simply get in touch with our team or request an online appointment using our scheduling request form. Then, sit down with your computer, phone, or tablet to chat with our dermatologists about your concerns and start feeling better right away.
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There May Not Be Just One Answer For You
Remember, everyones life situations are different and yours may be wholly unique. You may find counseling most helpful, or maybe bike riding and facial cleansing offer you the best results.
Whatever the case may be, its important to keep an open mind and try as many treatments as it takes to solve your stress acne problem. The Mayo Clinic reminds us that treating acne may take months or even years.
Remember the following:
- Stress can cause acne, not just anxiety.
- Outbreaks are manageable and no outbreak will last forever.
- When in doubt, speak with an expert about your acne problem.
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How To Cope With And Tame Stress Breakouts
“Keeping routines can be profoundly helpful in times of unprecedented stress and uncertainty,” Rieder says. “When we have seemingly lost control of the elements that give us peace, including our occupations, finances, and health, normalcy in any sense is welcome things that we take for granted and often do automatically are important to maintain.”
Perhaps number one on this list is sleep both getting enough of it and also trying to stick to regular sleep-wake hours. Sleep is crucial to our health for many, many reasons, however, as pertaining to overall skin health, the importance of getting your Zzz’s ties back to cortisol. This is because when we’re sleep-deprived, our bodies produce an increased amount of cortisol, which, as previously established, can spiral our skin out of balance.
Next on the list of important routines to maintain is “eating regular meals having dedicated time both to yourself and for socializing, exercising, and practicing self-care in the way that you best respond to,” Rieder explains. In terms of self-care, he personally recommends activities like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, exercise, and skin care, but the entire idea here is to take the time regularly to take care of yourself in a way that feels good to you.
Stress Acne Tip : Try A Targeted Approach
Although you may have been putting in all the hard, preventative work, a zit may still pop up. Or, maybe youâre dealing with a pretty stubborn one. In those moments, Dr. Puza recommends using Clean & Clearâs Advantage Acne Spot Treatment . âOnce a pimple has formed, the two foundational active ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide,â he says. âBenzoyl peroxide works to kill the acne-causing bacteria. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid that helps to decrease pore-clogging oil.â A little acne spot treatment goes a long way, so donât go too wild â just be diligent about using it.
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Why Does Stress Acne Happen Anyway
If youve ever experienced a breakout after a performance review or the night before a Bumble date, you can thank your trusty ol hormones for that. Zari S, et al. . The association between stress and acne among female medical students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Thanks, hormones.
To break it down further, your skin basically goes into defense mode at the first sign of stress. Your body releases hormones, including cortisol and adrenal androgens, to protect you, as well as neuropeptides.
These hormones hearken back to the old days when stress prepared us to escape from a mammoth or forage harder for food rather than to fret about which font to use in a PowerPoint presentation.
Unfortunately, this flurry of protective chemicals also triggers and inflames the sebaceous glands yep, those oily ones that cause flare-ups of skin conditions .
While stress does not directly cause acne, it can exacerbate it, and if you are already acne-prone, stress can make your acne worse, says Green. Acne is an inflammatory disease that can be exacerbated by hormones released during stress, which increase inflammation.
I see a lot of stress breakouts, she says. In adult patients, if they are going through a difficult time at home or work, this can cause their once-controlled acne to flare. And final exams tend to cause breakouts in students too.
Other Breakouts & Flareups Triggered By Stress
In addition to acne, other chronic skin conditions can be triggered by stress. You should be aware of your skin health needs, and make sure youre taking care of these issues to avoid extreme flareups. Some of the other skin conditions that may be triggered by stress include:
- Eczema The elevated immune response and hormone levels cause the production of more mast cells. These cells release histamines and immunoglobin antibodies that cause itchiness and increase eczema symptoms.
- Plaque Psoriasis the most common form of psoriasis, flareups in this skin condition are often related to stress, specifically the elevated immune response. The increase in immune function triggers the production of psoriasis plaques, the thick layers of patchy skin common during psoriasis flareups.
- Rosacea characterized by redness and inflammation that is usually most noticeable on the cheeks, rosacea flareups are commonly triggered by the spikes in cortisol and adrenaline caused by stress.
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Stress Acne: Best Treatments According To Dermatologists
Acne affects more than 90% of the population at some point in their life. Recent studies show that adult acne affects more than 50% of women in their 20s and 25% of women in their 30s.
Acne flares up for many different reasons, including diet, exercise regimens, poor skin routine, hormone imbalances the list goes on and on. It typically impacts areas of the skin with many sebaceous follicles, including the face, chest, and back.
Despite the amount of research done around skincare, the relationship between acne and stress has been misunderstood for years. Contrary to popular belief, stress alone cannot directly cause acne. However, one thing is definite – stress hinders the skin’s healing process and can contribute to breakouts by affecting various systems within the body.
Things To Try When Acne Wont Clear
The following tips from dermatologists can help you get started.
1. Give an acne treatment at least 4 weeks to work.Using a new acne product every few days may seem useful, but that approach can worsen acne. Acne treatment needs time to work. Using a different product every few days can also irritate your skin, causing new breakouts.
If a treatment works for you, you should notice some improvement in 4 to 6 weeks. It can take two to three months or longer to see clearing.
If you notice improvement, keep using the treatment. Even when you see clearing, youll want to keep using the acne treatment. This helps to prevent new breakouts.
Why see a dermatologist for severe acne?
If you have severe acne, a dermatologist can create a treatment plan that will help clear your skin. Acne products that you buy at the store cannot treat severe acne.
2. Attack the different causes of acne.If you dont see improvement after 4 to 6 weeks, add a second acne product to your treatment plan.
This approach can help attack the different causes of acne. Bacteria, clogged pores, oil, and inflammation can all cause acne.
Benzoyl peroxide decreases P. acnes bacteria
Retinoids, such as adapalene gel, unclog pores and reduce oiliness
Salicylic acid eases inflammation and unclogs pores
You can buy acne treatment that contains any one of these ingredients online or at a store. You dont need a prescription.
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Establishing A Routine Will Help Keep You Consistent
Any change in your day-to-day activity is going to be hard to adapt to. Finding a routine that you’re willing to stick with can be even harder.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a way around setting realistic goals and making sure you meet them as often as you can. Write out a routine, plan when you’re going to try different stress relief or skin care methods, and make sure you stick with your plan long enough to see what methods are helping and what doesn’t seem to make a difference.
If you have trouble keeping track of helpful techniques, keeping a journal or blog solely for the purpose of tracking your progress can give you motivation to stick with your plans.
Why Do Feelings Of Stress Show Up On Our Skin
“First of all, stress never makes anything better, and lots of skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis, and acne can flare with stress,” explains Shari Marchbein, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “Pimples, whether large cystic lesion or small comedones, are caused by a combination of four things.”
Those four things include bacteria , general inflammation, plugged-up pores, and hormones which is the key factor associated with stress-induced acne. Specifically, a hormone called cortisol, “which increases in the blood at times of stress or with lack of sleep,” is responsible for triggering breakouts, Marchbein explains.
The level of stress that prompts a flare-up can vary from person to person, and you may notice your skin changing just a few hours after a stressful event, says Laurel Naversen Geraghty, a board-certified dermatologist in Medford, Oregon. Even before your mind registers anxiety, those feelings may manifest on your skin.
“Your body reacts to stress by elevating certain hormones, such as cortisol, to put it in a state of ‘fight or flight,'” explains , a board-certified dermatologist in Coral Gables, Florida. “The oil glands in the skin actually have receptors for this hormone, so an increase in stress will increase the formation of oil in the skin.”
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Clean Up Before And After Exercise
Working out is a great way to handle stress. Just make sure you clean your skin before and after workouts so it doesnât worsen body acne.
Take off all your makeup before you get started. Cleansing towelettes can make this easy. Look for wipes that say theyâre oil-free and noncomedogenic, meaning they wonât clog pores, Lee suggests. Or simply wash up with a gentle cleanser and rinse with lukewarm water.
While you work out, pat your skin with a towel if it gets too sweaty. Rubbing it could be irritating.
When youâre done, take a shower and change into dry, clean clothes ASAP. This helps prevent breakouts caused by oils in sweat that your clothes absorbed.
Stress Pimples Final Thoughts
Lets face it stress is a part of life. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that it may be good for us. Thats because when stress isnt out of control, it can keep us on our toes.
If you are interested in learning more about how to reduce stress in your life and by extension stress pimples, I encourage you to pick up a copy of The Relaxation and Stress Workbook.
Ive recommended this one to many students and clients over the years. Whats great about this read are the easy to follow, step by step approaches to stress management.
Good luck with your stress pimples. By following these suggestions, you should see a change for the better!
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