The Emotional Toll Of Adult Acne
The skin blemishes can affect people in their 30s, 40s and beyond and lead to depression, anxiety and social isolation.
- Read in app
Send any friend a story
As a subscriber, you have 10 gift articles to give each month. Anyone can read what you share.
Give this article
No matter how much we claim to value peoples inner worth over their outward appearance, what we see upon meeting someone for the first time can color our assessment of the persons value. At least, thats what many adults with acne fear, prompting them to shun social or professional encounters lest their facial blemishes result in a bad impression or even rejection.
Acne is usually considered an adolescent problem that should diminish by the college years and become history when its time to find a job. Yet, according to a survey published in 2008 of 1,013 adults aged 20 and older, 35 percent of women and 20 percent of men said they were troubled by facial acne in their 30s. Even among those 50 and older, 15 percent of women and 7 percent of men said they still struggled with these blemishes. And experts say acne has become an increasingly prevalent problem among adult women in recent years.
How To Fix Acne
I get many clients whose main source of concern is their acne. These individuals feel they have tried every treatment imaginable, coming to me extremely frustrated that their acne continues to reappear.
What are the most common underlying causes of acne? How does one move away from conventional approaches toward a root-cause approach?
INFLAMMATION and OXIDATIVE STRESS
- Sugar raises insulin levels which promotes the production of testosterone in women and inflammation in general causing acne
- Saturated and processed fats increase arachidonic acid levels and compete with omega- 3 fats in the body, generating more inflammation and acne
- Milk and dairy consumption is closely linked with acne , in part because of the hormones in dairy and because of saturated fats.
- Widespread nutritional deficiencies of zinc, omega-3 fats, and some anti-inflammatory omega-6 fats promote acne. Supplementing with these nutrients boosts immunity, reducing inflammation and acne.
- Antioxidant levels are low in acne patients especially vitamins A and E, which are critical for skin health.
- Research has shown that certain foods combat many underlying causes of acne including fish oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods , green foods , and eggs.
- The most common food sensitivity is wheat and dairy. These produce inflammation and leaky gut , caused from stress, diet, and inflammatory foods.
How To Reduce And Manage Stress
Learning to reduce and manage your stress can be important in the treatment of your acne since stress can make your acne worse. Even if your environment or job isnt stressful to you, sometimes an acne breakout can cause emotional stress.
Some simple steps you can take to reduce stress include:
- taking a few deep breaths
- practicing meditation or yoga
- getting a good nights sleep
- maintaining a healthy diet
Don’t Miss: How To Get Rid Of Stress Acne On Forehead
What Causes Stress Acne
Well, yes, stress. It’s been long established by researchers, like those from a study published nearly two decades ago in JAMA Dermatology, that there is a connection between increased stress and increased acne severity. But why does stress cause acne to flare or worsen? It’s an answer that researchers are still trying to pin down.
There are a variety of factors that might have an effect, but an increase in specific hormones is one of the most widely agreed upon causes. The Cleveland Clinic reports that one of those hormones is cortisolthe “fight-or-flight” hormone. Other hormones that our bodies increase production of in response to stress are androgens. “These hormones stimulate the oil glands and hair follicles in the skin, which can lead to acne,” according to the AAD. “This explains why acne can be an ongoing problem when we find ourselves under constant stress.”
Nervous Habits Cause Breakouts
I noticed that when Im at my absolute peak stress, I develop fidgety, almost compulsive habits. Liu shed some light on these, telling me, A lot of people, they tend to touch their face more when theyre stressed and that can really trigger a breakout of acne. Nail meet head. If youre like me, you may find yourself doing this habit . In more extreme cases, stress can also cause skin picking and hair-pulling disorders, which can lead to acne and sores. I realized this constant touching was likely the cause of my pimples that were mainly located on my forehead, as I constantly touch my bangs or pick at dry skin on my forehead.
Recommended Reading: How Does Stress Make Your Hair Fall Out
Using Too Many Products
Buying a facial cleanser can be intimidating. There are so many different products that all promise you clear, radiant skin. Between the cleansers, scrubs, and toners, it’s easy to go overboard when it comes to washing your face. But when it comes to scoring zit-free skin, board certified dermatologist and medical director and founder of California Dermatology Specialists, Dr. Eric Meinhardt, says simple is usually better. “Routines that are complex with multiple steps are often too harsh for the skin,” says Dr. Meinhardt, so don’t worry about stocking up on tons of products or subscribing to a multi-step routine.
Get Your Beauty Sleep
Anyone whos felt moody and irritable after a restless night knows how important a good nights sleep is for relaxation and balance. Your skin also needs sleep to recover and regenerate. Studies have found that too little sleep can favour inflammation one of the causes of acne.Just how much sleep you need depends on the individual but between six and eight hours are normally considered optimal. Here are a few suggestions to help you get off to sleep quickly and deeply:- Make sure your bedroom is completely dark- Somewhere between 15°C and 18°C is the ideal temperature- Only use your bedroom for sleeping: dont work, watch TV or play computer games in the same room.
You May Like: Can You Sue Your Employer For Stress
How To Fight Stress Acne
You awaken in the morning to get ready for your big presentation at the office. As you look in the bathroom mirror, you notice blackheads, whiteheads, or a pimple the size of a small planet right in the middle of your forehead. Does this sound like a familiar scenario?
Its common to develop acne when you are overly stressed, especially if you have a history of acne problems. Your brain registers stress, believes you are in danger, and turns on the flood of adrenaline and cortisol. Not only do these excess hormones cause damage to your body, but the cortisol can cause acne breakouts.
Its impossible to eliminate stress from your life, but you can minimize it. Stress acne is one of the myriads of conditions that are brought on by undue stress. Other issues include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and some forms of cancer. Its never too late to bring some tranquility to your life.
Learn ways of changing your lifestyle to lower your stress levels. Some people benefit from going for mindful walks, practicing yoga, meditation, and other stress-busting activities. Less stress may equal less acne.
How Long Does Stress Acne Take To Develop And Go Away
Stress acne can develop in anticipation of a known stressor and then become more severe as you are experiencing the stressor itself. Or, the breakout could come days, weeks, or even months after the stressor.
If you’re under chronic stress, Dr. Lamb says it might be more difficult to get the acne under control because of the frequent flare ups that happen over time. But if the breakout is from more of an acute stressor, like the death or illness of a family member, she estimates that the acne could take about four to six weeks to clear up.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Stress Constipation
How Can I Stop Stress
American Academy of Dermatology recommends addressing the problem head-on by identifying sources of stress and taking some steps to minimize their effects. These can help eliminate stress-induced acne breakouts.
- For some people, building some âquiet timeâ into their daily schedules can help rein in stress.
- Examples may include taking a walk around the block, meditating, listening to soothing music or engaging in other similar activities that allow you to take a break from stressful triggers and focus on yourself, even if only for a few minutes each day.
Along with stress management, you may also try the following methods:
- Cleanse and exfoliate your skin. This can sweep away any dirt, oil, makeup and other debris that may be trapped inside your pores and contribute to your breakouts.
- The most common active ingredients used to treat acne are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, but you may want to discuss your options with your dermatologist before adding an acne treatment to your daily routine.
- In some cases, professional laser treatment may be the most effective solution to acne and acne scars. Laser treatments can also be highly effective at minimizing or eliminating the appearance of acne scars, sunspots and other blemishes.
What Does Stress Acne Look Like
While most women experience hormonal acne on their jawline, stress acne more closely resembles the breakouts you probably got when you were a teenager, since it’s caused by an overproduction of oil. “Stress acne, unlike your regular breakouts, usually occurs on the oiliest parts of your faceyour forehead, nose, and chin areas,” says Shereene Idriss, M.D., a cosmetic dermatologist at New York City’s Union Square Laser Dermatology. Given the increase in oil production, she says your skin will usually look greasier and slightly more inflamed.
Zeichner adds that stress acne can also look like a combination of blackheads, whiteheads, red bumps, and pus pimples. A telltale sign that you’re experiencing a stress breakout is that you’ll get several new pimples at once, while hormonal breakouts tend to happen one at a time . Even if you aren’t usually acne-prone, stressful periods or events can trigger breakouts. However, those of us who are genetically more predisposed to acne and struggle with it on a regular basis are more likely to experience flare-ups when stressed.
Recommended Reading: Is Stress Bad For Pregnancy
Proper Skin Care Can Stop Stress Acne Outbreaks Too
Do you take care of your skin?
Sometimes it’s nearly impossible to avoid a stress acne outbreak, even if you clean your face twice a day and watch what you eat.
Finding a skin treatment option that is right for you can require trial and error. But we’ve outlined some of the top skin care products below, specifically tailored towards getting rid of stress acne.
Acne Depression And Self
According to a study published by the BSF , the psychological impact of acne can be extremely serious, and is often overlooked, making sufferers feel alone and isolated. Patients with acne and many other skin diseases often feel enormously upset about their skin condition, as it affects their confidence and self-esteem in so many different ways, says Dr Bav Shergill, a spokesperson for the BSF, in a press release. All too often the impact of skin disease is underestimated, and this survey will hopefully help draw attention to this fact. Alarmingly the survey also revealed that a further one in six people admitted to having self-harmed as a result of their skin disease. Some of those 125 people who took part also said they had even attempted suicide, with others stating they had contemplated suicide at some stage. However, there is hope! Finding the right treatment is the first step towards clear skin and a more positive mind-set.
How To Prevent Stress Acne
“First and foremost, get plenty of sleep. When sleep deprived, the body makes more of the stress hormone, cortisol,” says Dr. Shamban. “Increased cortisol causes inflammation and stress on the body and can worsen skin conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis, as well as cause an increased breakdown of collagen and hyaluronic acid .”
As for when you’re awake and not drinking water? Run, do yoga, read, mediditate. Partake in any solo activity that helps take your mind off of the news.
Dermatologists Explain Stress Acne And 3 Ways To Fix It
Nobody is immune to stress, from the wealthiest crust of society to the poorest of the poor, there is no escape. If you have a physical or mental condition, you know that stress only makes it worse. But can tension cause your body to have a breakout of stress acne?
While its possible to reduce stress in your life, its impossible to eliminate it. Indeed, life is demanding. Stress protects you from imminent danger and is necessary for learning and growing.
Like many other automatic responses in your body, your brain is hardwired to respond to stress. In a dark, primordial world filled with unknown hazards, early humans depended on this response to survive. They often had a split second to energize their bodies and decide to fight, flight, or flee.
The human survival instinct remains unchanged over thousands of years. The same response that your ancient ancestors had now protects you in dangerous situations. However, your brain doesnt distinguish stressors and will react accordingly.
Recommended Reading: How To Treat Stress Colitis In Dogs
How Do I Stop Breaking Out From Stress
Below are four simple strategies to maintain a clear, stress-free complexion.
1. Boost Good Bacteria Research from the American Academy of Dermatology reveals that that acne prone skin improves with daily probiotic consumption, giving dermatologists reason to consider supplementing traditional acne therapy with a dose of this beneficial bacteria.
Stress causes toxins to be released into the bloodstream, causing inflammation throughout the body. People predisposed to acne can experience breakouts as a result of this shift in gut bacteria and subsequent inflammation. Experts recommend introducing healthy bacteria to the gut in the form of probiotics. The probiotics will line the gut and create a healthy, sealed barrier that prevents inflammation that can trigger acne or rosacea.
2. Eat For Clear Skin
We all know the importance of a well balanced diet. What many people don’t realize is how it affects your complexion. Eating the right foods will help:
- Reduce system-wide inflammation, which fuels acne
- Address hormone imbalances, like too much estrogen, which aggravate skin issues
- Support your bodys natural ability to detoxify
- Feed your body the micronutrients we often lack
Dark leafy greens, squash or tropical fruits , which are rich in vitamin A, E, C and fiber are essential for healthy skin. Vitamin A helps your liver detoxify from excess hormones.
3. Get More Sleep
How To Make A Honey And Cinnamon Mask
Honey and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. They may help reduce acne, but more studies are needed.
Tea tree oil is an essential oil thats extracted from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a small tree native to Australia.
Its well known for its ability to fight bacteria and reduce skin inflammation (
Tea tree oil has strong anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Applying it to the skin may reduce acne.
Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Stress Ulcers In Stomach
How Does Acne Form
If you have acne you certainly aren’t alone. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, about 40 to 50 million Americans suffer from acne at any given time.
Our body constantly creates new skin cells to replace old, dead cells, and these dead cells are moved to the surface of our skin for removal. Occasionally, natural oils produced by our skin causes dead skin cells to be trapped in a pore.
This is not an issue by itself, but if acne bacteria that lives on our skin also becomes stuck in a clogged pore, that pore may become swollen and inflamed, eventually leading to the formation of acne.
How Can You Keep Oily Skin Under Control
Since high cortisol levels kick start the skin’s oil glands, you might find your face is oilier than usual. If you find yourself looking super shiny, Dr. Shamban suggests using exfoliating pads once a day like the ones from her product line AVA MD. “Swipe the pad over a clean face starting once a week and move up to two or three times at night before bed,” she says. “They’re made with pure 5% glycolic acid and 2% salicylic acid. These are the best basic ingredients for acne prone skin and they help banish blemishes with regular usage.”
For a quick fix, both dermatologists are fans of oil-blotting papers because no matter how many times you gently dab one of these sheets on your face, they’re not going to make breakouts any worse.
You May Like: Can You Lose Your Hair From Stress