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Conquering Stress Acne: Proven Strategies for Effective Acne Stress Treatment

Jun 21, 2023

Have you been facing a lot of stress lately? Increased work, problems in personal life and so many other things causing confusion in your head? Is acne part of the problems giving stress – getting up to see those spots on your face, making you feel self conscious and insecure?
But did you know that acne can be caused because of stress !
In today’s fast paced world, stress is something that you can’t really avoid. While you may feel tired due to stress, your skin may get affected by it too. Stress acne is one such example.
We all know that acne is caused by the clogging of the pores in skin by dirt, oil, or dead skin. But if you are wondering why you start having acne during stressful situations? Is there a connection between the two?

Worried about your skin condition? Get in touch with best of our skin specialists in Pune. For a skin treatment, book an appointment with our dermatologists near you +919584584111

Table of Contents

Does stress cause acne?

Well, yes. Stress acne is real. Though stress doesn’t cause acne directly, there are a lot of factors like hormonal imbalance, diet changes and sleep irregularities that create the ideal environment for stress acne to develop and cause inflammation on your skin. 

For example, cortisol (a hormone released during stress) as a response to what it perceives as threat, can increase sebum (an oil releasing naturally from your skin in small amounts usually). This increase in sebum can lead to clogging of pores and make your skin a breeding ground for acne causing bacteria. So, stress doesn’t cause acne directly,but a stressful situation can cause someone to face an acne flare. Once the pores of your skin are blocked, it gets irritated and swells to form a bump or a pimple.
In addressing stress acne and finding the right acne stress treatment, it’s crucial to manage stress effectively and maintain a healthy lifestyle. By doing so, you can help keep those stress-related breakouts away and enjoy clearer, healthier skin.

Symptoms of Stress-acne

In the previous section, we discussed does stress causes acne. Now, let’s see what the symptoms of stress acne are.

Have you ever noticed a change in texture and the quality of your skin when you’re in a stressful situation? You may be having a very important meeting with a client, or perhaps an exam of a subject that you find difficult to study, or maybe a deadline that you need to cater to. In these times, do you notice that you’re getting breakouts? Your skin is getting dull and you’re suddenly getting pimples, blackheads or whiteheads or painful cysts? This is a sign that you may be experiencing stress – acne.

Stress acne typically occurs in the oiliest areas of your body, known as the T-zone, which includes your forehead, nose, and chin – areas prone to acne. This form of acne often comes with dilated pores, blackheads, whiteheads, or an uneven, grainy skin texture. Redness and itchiness can also be indicators of stress acne.

It’s important to remember that having these breakouts is nothing to be ashamed of. It simply means that you need to dedicate a little more time to self-care and skincare. You deserve that attention and care!

A lot of people have that urge to subconsciously and repetitively rub, pick or scratch their acne lesions which is called acne excoriate. The lesions are repeatedly squeezed and scratched, which leads to scars or scabs and pigmentation. This is commonly seen in adolescents facing mental health problems like anxiety, depression, or other emotional problems inducing stress and is an important type of stress acne. Understanding the symptoms of stress acne is crucial in identifying and addressing this specific type of acne. By recognizing the signs, individuals can take steps to manage stress and develop effective acne stress treatment strategies for healthier, clearer skin.

How to deal with stress to manage the stress-acne?

Stress management begins by knowing the factors. It may sound easy at first but it requires a lot of reflection within oneself to identify your triggers. 

  • Start Journaling.Write down the causes of your stress. Try to understand the emotional feelings attached to this stress flowing in your body. Think about how you want to cope with your stress in the future. Were your coping mechanisms previously healthy? If yes, then how can you make it better? If not, how do you want to cope with such situations in the future? Take some time and think.
  • Avoid Procrastination. Procrastination is one of the most common causes of stress. If you feel like procrastinating your work, think about why you want to do that. Is it ‘too much’ for you? Do you feel tired or burnt out? If yes, why? And how can you deal with the situation better? 
  • Form Healthy Boundaries. Learn to say ‘No’. Be it professionally, when your boss requests you to put in some extra work hours and you don’t have the bandwidth to do so, or in personal life and relationships. Don’t take more load than you can handle. 
  • Make a to-do list. This can help you go a long way in your day-to-day activities. Prioritize your tasks and write  them down. Manage your daily tasks and drop the tasks that don’t need your attention along with the ones that are more important to you. 
  • Express Your Feelings. In case you’re facing a lot of emotional difficulties, vent it out. You’ll feel lighter and less stressed. You can reach out to a therapist or a loved one and express your feelings and emotions for your well-being. 
  • Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

– Sleep for 8 hours a day. Lack of sleep can cause significant effects on your lifestyle and stress levels. Practice breathing exercises before sleeping. Something like deep breathing and focusing on the movement of your stomach as you inhale and exhale can also help. Let go of your electronic gadgets like phones and laptops 30 minutes before you go to sleep. You can use this time to read, do some art, or do anything that you like!

– Consume your greens and get your nutrition in place. Optimize your eating habits and consume a healthy and balanced diet rich in Fibre and nutrition. It can help you uplift your mood and build your immune system. Have a diet rich in Vitamin C (broccolis, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, cabbage and your leafy greens) , Magnesium (bananas, almonds, cashews, beans, tofu, avocadoes) and Omega-3 Fatty Acids (salmon, anchovies, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds).

– Exercise regularly. A  good exercise routine can help release chemicals known as endorphins from your brain which block the action of cortisol and thus can help you with acne.

  • Avoid Smoking, Caffeine, Alcohol and Drugs. Nicotine and Tobacco are found to be very common stress relievers. However, they cause more stress in the longer run since it increases physical arousal and reduces the blood flow and breathing. 

Having a positive outlook towards life is a well-known formula to beat stress, but sometimes there can be many other reasons contributing to your stress – at such times, do not fall short of asking for help !! Consult a therapist or Psychiatrist if you feel your stress stretching you at a maximum.

What about Dealing with Breakouts and Acne?

While there is no foolproof way to prevent stress acne, here are a few tips that may help you keep your acne away! 

  • Wash your face properly!: Cleaning your face properly plays a very important role in preventing and reducing acne. It helps you clean your skin and unclog your pores to get rid of excess oil, dead skin cells and dirt. However, too much washing can worsen your acne. Overwashing your face can lead to the depletion of natural sebum, which causes the skin to secrete more oil which can make your acne worse. Use a sulfate-free and fragrance-free cleanser twice or thrice a day using warm water and your fingers. Do not use anything harsh for acne treatment
  • Use a moisturiser:. This will help you keep your skin hydrated. Even if you have a lot of acne, using a moisturiser is important because if your skin gets too dry, it’ll again produce sebum in excess, which will then lead to pimples. Ask your dermatologist before using any moisturiser.
  • Limit sun exposure & stay hydrated:. Sun rays can cause your pimples to dry out and may cause problems in the long run. It can dehydrate your skin, increasing redness and inflammation. It may send a message to your body to release more oil, thereby causing acne. Make sure you wear a non-comedogenic sunscreen according to your skin type and constantly hydrate yourself for acne treatment! 
  • Limit using makeup:. Makeup can clog your pores and trigger outbreaks. If you still want to use products like foundation, make sure you use one that is non-comedogenic and fragrance-free so that your skin doesn’t get irritated. Make sure to remove your makeup completely, before sleeping. 
  • Don’t pop those pimples:. It may be appealing but can cause scarring, bleeding, infections and inflammation. Consult a dermatologist for pimple management. 
  • Food to Avoid: Avoid certain foods like excess sugar, caffeine, alcohol, greasy food, dairy products, and processed foods. Reducing their intake may help you ease your breakouts. 

Using OTC: Use over-the-counter acne treatments like Benzoyl Peroxide (for inflammatory acne; since it kills bacteria that cause acne), Salicylic acid (for black heads and white heads to reduce inflammation and unclogging pores) and Sulphur (for naturally drying out dead skin cells to unclog pores and absorb any excess sebum that may have been released).

What are Effective Treatments for Acne Caused by Stress?

Acne stress treatment focuses on managing both the underlying stress and the resultant acne breakouts. Here are effective strategies to address stress-induced acne:

Stress Management: Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or mindfulness to reduce stress levels. Identify and address the stressors in your life, whether they are related to work, relationships, or other factors.

Skincare Routine: Use gentle, non-comedogenic skincare products and a consistent cleansing routine. Avoid excessive scrubbing, as it can irritate the skin and worsen acne.

Topical Treatments: Over-the-counter products containing ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide can help manage acne breakouts. Consult a dermatologist for prescription-strength topical treatments if over-the-counter options are insufficient.

Oral Medications: If necessary, a dermatologist may prescribe oral antibiotics, hormonal treatments, or isotretinoin for more severe cases of acne stress.

Diet and Nutrition: Maintain a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limit the consumption of high-glycemic foods and dairy products, which may exacerbate acne for some individuals.

Hydration: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.

Lifestyle Factors: Get regular exercise to reduce stress and promote overall well-being. Ensure you’re getting adequate sleep, as poor sleep can increase stress and worsen acne.

Avoid Picking and Squeezing: Resist the urge to pick, squeeze, or scratch acne lesions, as this can lead to scarring and further inflammation.

Sun Protection: Use sunscreen with a high SPF (Sun Protection Factor) to protect your skin from UV damage and prevent the darkening of acne scars.

Consult a dermatologist for a personalized treatment plan, especially if your stress-induced acne is severe or persistent.
Remember that managing stress and acne is a holistic process. It’s essential to address both aspects, as stress can cause acne, and acne can contribute to stress. By adopting a comprehensive approach and seeking professional guidance when needed, individuals can effectively manage and reduce acne stress, ultimately leading to healthier, clearer skin.

For treating your skin condition, feel free to get in touch with one of our best dermatologists in Pune. You can also call on +919584584111 to book an appointment at one of our skin clinics near you.


Dr Dhanraj Chavan

About the Author: Dr Dhanraj Chavan

Dr. Dhanraj Chavan is a globally trained, young, and dynamic dermatologist. He is a Consultant Dermatologist and Varicose Vein Specialist at Clear Skin, VeinMD, and HairMD.

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