Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles get plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Acne usually appears on your face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. Most of us are aware of the common causes of acne breakouts, like oily skin, pollution, hormonal imbalance, etc, but not many know that stress is an equally important cause of those stubborn pimples on your face.
Stress is the body’s way of responding to any kind of demand or threat. When a person feels threatened, the nervous system of the body responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. Acne and stress seem different but are related to each other. Stress not only affects a person’s body health, it equally affects skin health too.
Relationship between stress and acne
Inflammation is the primary physical cause of acne. Excess of stress leads to inflammation. Acne mostly occurs to teens and premenstrual, pregnant, or menopausal women, where hormonal imbalance is seen most. Increase of Cortisol (stress hormone) suppresses the immune system and gives a chance for acne to form. Stress hormone causes anxiety which leads to sweating. This sweat clogs the skin pores leading to acne.
How stress eating leads to acne?
Have you heard of binge eating? Some people eat to calm their stress. Foods that are high in carbohydrate produce a feel good hormone called Serotonin. This hormone improves mood and decreases anxiety. In the long term, stress eating can lead to excess weight gain and it can also lead to increased amounts of acne. Foods with refined sugars are high on the glycemic index; in others words, they trigger your body’s insulin (blood sugar) level to quickly rise. A high insulin level puts the immune system on alert, triggering the inflammation response.
Female and stress acne
Females have additional responsibilities which increase the stress level. The pressure maintaining a balance between career and a functioning household is unique to this generation of women. Workplace stress with household responsibilities, cosmetics which contain known skin irritants, and monthly hormonal fluctuations are a perfect breeding ground for the formation of acne. Acne causes additional emotional stress, which again sends the sebaceous glands into overdrive, leading to the continued cycle of acne breakouts.
How to stop stress induced acne
Identifying sources of stress and taking some steps to minimize their effects can help eliminate stress-induced acne. Taking a walk, meditating, listening to soothing music or other similar activities may help in reducing stress.
Give your skin a few weeks to respond to treatment and do not panic.
Exercise and Yoga:
Spend at least 30 minutes in some form of physical activity daily, be it running, walking, swimming and more. You can invest in a gym membership and go regularly. Yoga is a great way to beat stress and relax your mind and body.
Get enough sleep:
Make sure that you are sleeping at least 7-8 hours daily. There is no replacement for good, sound sleep when it comes to healing your mind and body.
Cleanse and Exfoliate:
Cleansing is very important as it sweeps away any dirt, oil, makeup, and other debris that may be trapped inside the pores leading to acne. Exfoliating the skin removes the dead skin cells and dirt clogging the pores and help skin care products to effectively penetrate the skin and reach the active, underlying layer.
While some amount of acute stress is normal, chronic stress can cause problems to the body and skin. Taking some steps towards reducing unhealthy levels of stress and promoting a calmer, more relaxed lifestyle help in reducing stress induced acne.