Stress Acne Here’s How To Diagnose & Treat It Stat
Stress launches a domino effect of physiological changes in the body: It can speed up our breathing, tense our muscles, and make us sweat. This stress response originally evolved as a survival mechanism, but these days it can do more harm than good. Too much stress can cause tension headaches, gut issues, irritability, lethargythe list goes on. And yes, it includes breakouts. Here’s what the research says on the link between stress and acne, plus some ideas on how to stress less for the sake of your skin.
Moisturize With Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is a tropical plant whose leaves produce a clear gel. The gel is often added to lotions, creams, ointments, and soaps.
Its commonly used to treat abrasions, rashes, burns, and other skin conditions. When applied to the skin, aloe vera gel can help heal wounds, treat burns, and fight inflammation .
Aloe vera contains salicylic acid and sulfur, which are both used extensively in the treatment of acne. Research has found that applying salicylic acid to the skin reduces acne (
While research shows promise, the anti-acne benefits of aloe vera itself require further scientific research.
Treatment Of Stress Acne
If you work with your skin, the results will be there one step at a time, Green says. For treatment options, she recommends a topical spot treatment, something like salicylic acid, which can be found over-the-counter.
We like Murad’s salicylic acid acne spot treatment to target acne, reduce blemish size and redness, and soothe skin.
If its something deepera stress cyst, something under-the-skin, perhaps”just hold a warm or cold compress over the affected area to decrease the pain and/or redness. This should be done for a few minutes twice a day until the spot is minimized.
If stress acne seems to happen often, then try switching your skincare routine. Find products that work with your skin, not against it, Green recommends. Vaidian also suggests taking care to ensure your stress levels are managed as well. Drink plenty of fluids, eat a healthy diet, and do things to manage your stress such as get more sleep and do things to relax, she says.
If you suspect that your acne may be due to stress or hormonal-related reasons, talk to your dermatologist about your immediate skin care options to help speed up your recovery.
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The Best Topical Treatments To Treat Stress Acne
When it does spring up, stress pimples respond best to a few specific topicals: salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol, Marchbein and Vega explain. Each ingredient works in different ways to combat breakouts. Salicylic acid can unclog pores, benzoyl peroxide is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and retinol increases skin cell turnover rate.
That doesn’t mean that you should use all three at once, however. Instead, Vega recommends using retinol as a long-term solution, and keeping either a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide product in your medicine cabinet to use as a spot treatment as needed.
Pimple patches can also be used as a spot treatment for acne, Marchbein suggests. “These are hydrocolloid adhesive stickers that contain certain active ingredients such as salicylic acid and/or tea tree oil, which are delivered to the pimple while its in place,” she explains. “By occluding the pimple, these active ingredients are able to penetrate the skin more deeply allowing them to potentially work better.”
For large, painful acne, “I would typically recommend heading to your dermatologist for a steroid injection to reduce the pain and inflammation of cystic breakouts,” Marchbein explains, however, “at this point, medical visits should be for true emergencies only.”
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Stress Hormones And Acne
Stress isnt just in your head, its an actual physiological response that can impact the inner workings of your body. One of the primary ways stress can physically affect you is through the release of hormones.
The OG stress hormone is cortisol. Cortisol can do some good things, like regulating your metabolism and blood sugar. But over time , it can also do a lot of damage. Besides breaking down muscle, slowing healing, and screwing up your digestion, it can wreak havoc on your acne-prone skin.
Cortisol can prompt increased production of sebum and skin cells, two major components in the formation of acne. So the more cortisol in your system, the more breakouts can pop up to spoil your week!
Stress also triggers CRH . CRH can dysregulate your sebaceous glands, which hang out beneath your skin and produce sebum. The CRH also activates inflammation, which plays a starring role in the swelling, redness, and irritation of acne breakouts.
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Does Stress Cause Acne Directly
One study found a close association between emotional stress levels and the severity of acne breakouts. The researchers looked at students during final exams, a period of high psychological stress. They found that acne may get worse during this stressful time. So, while there may not be such a thing as stress-causing acne, stressful situations can make flare-ups worse, especially in acne-prone skin .
How Do I Manage My Stress
The American Psychological Association offers five strong ways to help you cope with stressful situations in your life.
- Exercise: Not only is it good for your body, exercise can help take your mind off of difficult situations.
- Smile and laugh: We hold a lot of tension in our face that can actually stress us more – laughing can help relieve it quickly.
- Get social support. Find someone you respect who understands you and .
- Meditate. Practicing mindfulness can offer new perspectives on existing problems and may help you sort out what’s bothering you.
- Get away from the stressor. If you can take a break from what’s stressing you, leave it behind you for a while!
Read Also: How To Counteract Stress Hormones
How Stress Causes Acne
In 2003, scientists published one of the first studies to provide evidence that stress could indeed lead to the exacerbation of acne. Researchers examined a group of college students to determine if there was a relationship between stress levels related to academic examinations and acne flare-ups.
The results of the study confirmed that students experienced worsening acne breakouts during periods of high stress. Several other studies have been conducted since, allowing scientists to draw the following conclusions.
Remembering To Take Your Medication
Do you know the number one reason why acne medications don’t work? It’s not because they’re ineffective, rather they aren’t being used.
Being consistent with your treatment is the best thing you can do to get clearer skin. Simply put, your medications won’t work if you’re only using them sporadically.
If you have trouble remembering to use your medications, figure out ways to jog your memory. Setting them next to your toothbrush is a low tech way to remind yourself to use them. You can also set an alarm on your phonebut you have to actually go apply your medications at that time. It’s tempting to just turn off the alarm and say you’ll do it later and forget.
Above all, be consistent and patient while waiting for results.
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How To Get Rid Of Stress Acne
There are many stress management techniques that can help patients with acne minimize the impact of stress on their skin.
- Psychotherapy, commonly referred to as talk therapy, can help a person manage stress and anxiety by meeting with a counselor or psychologist. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a specific type of psychotherapy that helps patients identify and change thought and behavior patterns that are ineffective or harmful.
- Meditation is a state of thoughtful awareness in which you attempt to quiet the mind, hopefully providing relief from worry or anxiety. There are many types of meditation that you can do at home, some using free online recordings or apps that you can download onto your smartphone, such as Headspace.
- Hypnosis is a state of consciousness, usually facilitated by a clinician such as a psychologist, in which the patient becomes relaxed and suggestible, and possibly open to messages about changing or breaking bad habits.
- Yoga and tai chi are two physical practices that use movement, breathing, and mental concentration to promote relaxation and improved health. Yoga is great, says Dr. Stair. If you only have time for breathing exercises, inhaling through your nose for 3 seconds, and exhaling for a longer duration through your mouth can be super relaxing.
- Medications, such as antidepressants and beta blockers , can also help to manage anxiety and stress.
How You Can Prevent Stress
Knowing that stress causes acne is just one piece of the puzzle. How can you lessen stress and stave off breakouts? First, take conscious steps to manage your stress. You may not be able to remove the stressor from your life, but you can change how you react to it.
Look for healthy ways to relieve your anxiety and stay positive. Eat wholesome foods, meditate, make sleep a priority, and exercise whenever you can, even if its just a walk around the block. Avoid binging on sugar, caffeine, alcohol, or other substances to relieve stress.
To minimize breakouts, gently wash your face twice a day with a mild cleanser, then gently pat it dry . Use moisturizer and makeup that doesnt contain oil, which will block your pores. Keep your hair off your face, and dont pick at pimples it almost always makes them worse and can even cause scarring.
Mild acne will often respond to over-the-counter topical creams that contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Finally, drink lots of water to flush out your system and keep your skin hydrated.
If you havent gotten results in a few months with stress management techniques and over-the-counter medications, it might be time to see a skin specialist. Find the right dermatologist for you by contacting the UPMC Department of Dermatology.
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How To Treat Stress Acne
Excess oil can cause acne, but skin oil production differs from person to person based on age and skin type. For these reasons, many acne treatments target oil production.
Some over-the-counter products such as moisturizers and cleansers aim to reduce oil buildup on acne-prone skin. These products will use glycolic acid, salicylic acid, or benzoyl peroxide as their active ingredient. Some products work best as spot treatments and may be most helpful if you struggle with fewer large zits, rather than general breakouts.
If youre still struggling with adult acne and have tried over-the-counter acne treatments, it may be helpful to visit a dermatologist who can prescribe a stronger treatment and help craft a skincare routine tailored to your skin type.
Tips For Reducing Stress Acne
Self-care may also be one way to get closer to achieving clear skin. Studies show that 77% of people in the United States reported regularly feeling physical symptoms caused by stress .
Unfortunately, the things that most people are stressed aboutlike work, the future of our nation, money, and the political climatearent temporary . That means managing stress, instead of waiting for it to pass, is the best way forward.
Managing stress involves leading a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. But its also about your mental health. If you feel like you still need help managing stress after following a healthy lifestyle, reach out to a healthcare provider.
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Try To Be More Relaxed About Work
The world we work in becoming faster and more complex. Were expected to complete more tasks in less time and the pressure to be `always on` can be considerable. This makes some people miserable, frustrated and stressed and can cause stress spots. Try to excel at your role without letting stress get you down. The key to maximum productivity and minimum stress is to plan your day so you have a structure to follow and know what youre going to work on when. Try to take short breaks throughout the day.
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.
Thankfully, there are readily-available products to help develop a routine and treat outbreaks as they arrive, and some are as simple as facial cleansing wipes or facial compresses.
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.
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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.
Stress Acne Tip : Stay Gentle
We only include products that have been independently selected by Elite Daily’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Rather than take an aggressive approach to combating stress acne, Ross recommends you keep your skin care products gentle. âAstringent toners can stress the skin even more,â he tells Elite Daily. âChoose sensitive skin products that are gentle and fragrance-free with anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as camelia flower extract found in SeSpring So Rich Hydrating Gel that also helps soothe.â
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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.
Why Does Stress Trigger Acne Breakouts
Our bodys response to stress is an evolutionary imperative that exists to keep us safe from environmental and internal dangers to our health. Unfortunately, when stress is long term and unabated, it can lead to some serious health concerns, including elevated blood pressure, weakened immune system, and yes, acne breakouts and other skin issues. Stress impacts the body because it activates responses from the endocrine and immune systems. This additional pressure on the body from a heightened stress response means that the body is overtaxed and needs to reroute some nutrients and resources from the skin, hair, and nails. Even though the skin is the bodys largest organ, when stress is draining your energy, the body will send its resources to more essential areas of organ function and immune response. That means, your skin cells arent turning over as quickly, breakouts or skin flareups arent clearing up as rapidly, and you generally just dont look or feel your best.
When you think of how your body responds to stress, its no surprise that many chronic and systemic illnesses have early warning signs that manifest in the skin. When the body needs vital vitamins and nutrients for more pressing health issues, your skins health needs take a backburner. Similarly, during times of stress, acne breakouts can be more severe and take longer to heal.
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What Are The Best Treatment Options For Stress Acne
) and improve skin texture.
Vitamin B5 supplements
Pantothenic acid is also called the “anti-stress vitamin”). It was shown that Vitamin B5 supplements could balance the secretion of stress hormones in the adrenal glands. Women with adult acne can benefit from DIM supplements. DIM supplements contain a natural extract of cruciferous vegetables specially formulated to help balance hormones and reduce signs of acne in women. Hormonal acne is typically located on the lower parts of the face and is influenced by the monthly cycle.
Practicing relaxation techniques
If you’re facing a lot of stress, utilizing various relaxation techniques such as deep breathing may help regulate internal hormones and speed up your acne’s healing.
Adequate hydration, zinc and flaxseed oil-based product
To combat stress acne, you’ll want to keep your skin hydrated inside and out. Water consumption can help with internal hydration, and zinc and flaxseed oil-based products have been proven to keep skin moisturized and help with wound healing. To keep the water in the skin, you will need to use a good moisturizer
Catch enough Zzz’s
Lack of sleep can create many reactions within the body, including increased inflammation and production of stress hormones, both of which can destabilize your immune health and contribute to skin issues. Without regular restorative sleep, your body might not feel adequately rested and could jumpstart a cortisol surge, putting you at risk for breakouts.
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