The answer is: Yes and No.
Stress alone does not cause a case of acne, but it can make it worse. People may have a zit or two even if they aren’t experiencing stress, however stress increases the chances of a break out even in clear skin.
You may have noticed in your own life during a really stressful time more blemishes appearing- perhaps before a big date, during finals, or an upcoming interview. What are the mechanics behind this phenomenon?
How zits are formed.
Your skin is full of tiny pores that connect the surface of your skin with the lower layers, where the hair follicle and tiny oil producing glands are located. Your skin needs a normal amount of oil to function properly, but when your body produces too much oil and there is a build up of dead skin, this creates a plug. A clogged pore is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, the bacteria feeds on the sebum, which creates inflammation, this creates pressure on the outside walls of the pore, which then ruptures and creates a pimple.
How stress relates to your skin breaking out.
There have been a few studies in recent years confirming that breaking out at stressful times is not just our imagination, there is a scientific reason. “Acne is an inflammatory disease that can be exacerbated by hormones released during stress which increase inflammation.” (Dr. Michele Green). Another study confirmed this, showing that when you are stressed a hormone called CRH can cause the glands in the skin to produce more oil. (Dr. Adam Friedman, George Washington University). A study in 2003 at Beth Israel Medical Center by Dr. Alexa Kimball also found that stress could trigger breakouts, and the greater the stress, the more pronounced the breakout.
Inflammation in our bodies.
We already know stress provokes inflammation in the body. The oil glands in the skin are a part of the immune system, so turning on this immune response increases swelling and inflammation in the skin. In addition, since chronic stress affects the immune system, this slows healing.
Other contributing factors from stress.
What’s more, people tend to itch when they are nervous or stressed, and scratching creates swelling at the site. People who are stressed may pick at their skin more, increasing inflammation at the site. They also tend to sleep poorly, eat less healthy food, and don’t follow their usual skin-care routines. All these factors contribute to breakouts when you are stressed.
Our fast pace world
The pace of modern living create stress in our lives. A 2014 study in the Archives of Dermatological Research found that acne in women is on the rise. Their conclusion is that the fast-paced, pressure-filled society we live in is contributing to a worsening of acne conditions.
Take an inventory of your current life.
Evaluate if you are unnecessarily tied to activities that don’t contribute positively to your or other’s lives. Cut them out without shame. Ask yourself what is causing you the most stress? What can you cut back or change? Take a break from some activities for a time. Remember you don’t have to do everything right now. There are different seasons for different opportunities. Actively practice relaxing and letting go of the hold situations you cannot change have on you. Remind yourself that life goes on and things have a way of working out whether you worry about them or not. The world will not fall apart if you don’t manage every detail or do everything perfectly. Trust that you will take care of what is most important. Make a list of the problems you can do something about and write out how and when you will deal with them.
Managing stress can be stressful in itself
Do plan in your schedule time for social connection and maintaining friendships. Do take time to care for yourself, for example: Make time for physical activity you enjoy, Pursue creative endeavors. Plan margin in between your activities. Not every minute of every week needs to be filled. Down time is good, it is not laziness. Set a timer for when you need to go to bed so you are getting enough sleep. Sleep is a great way to reduce inflammation and give the body time to heal and reset. Implement an app or system on your electronic devices that will help you cut down your screen time. Set up a time to talk with a friend, family member, or a counselor about nagging problems in your life, perhaps they can help you be accountable to cut out unnecessary activities and implement healthy habits. Consider yoga and/or meditation. If you are a spiritual person, schedule regular time on your calendar to grow your faith and talk to God about your problems.
If you have found helpful and simple ways to reduce daily and ongoing stress please share in the comments below. As always if you have any questions about your skin care needs or if you have an emergency with a breakout at an important moment in your life, contact me, I can help you with immediate and ongoing skin care needs.
Please contact me at 913-702-4769, topekaacneskincare.com