How Stress Affects Acne: Signs and Solutions

When you’re stressed out and more pimples, pain and bumps greet you daily, it’s certainly not going to help with your skin. This is the insidious roller coaster of stress and acne as one feeds into the other.

Cup of coffy
Soft photo of woman on the bed with old book and cup of coffee in hands, top view point

First of all, let me tell you – you are right, it’s not just your imagination. Stress and acne do stick together like peanut butter and jelly.

However, don’t forget that there are multiple factors that may be contributing to your acne. While stress may be your primary acne trigger, it is also affected by the other three triggers as well- hormone and gut imbalance and diet.

Do you know YOUR primary acne trigger? Still struggling with an unsure self-diagnosis?

We created a short quiz to help you Discover YOUR Complexion Triggers

Furthermore, there is much research that has shown that stress activates the adrenal glands to produce extra androgen hormones, which eventually result in inflamed acne breakouts in acne-prone skin. These additional hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands beneath the skin and trigger a breakout. The stress-hormone connection is more of a problem for women than it is for men because they produce most of their male hormones (androgens) in their adrenal glands.

Men, on the other hand, produce most of their male hormones in the testes and only a very small amount in the adrenal glands. Men’s primary hormone is testosterone (an androgen). When they get stressed, and the body produces extra testosterone, it does not have as big of an impact as it does for women. Women produce about one-tenth of the amount of testosterone as men do, so a sudden surge of additional testosterone can be significant.

While that’s a scientific explanation for what’s happening to your skin, there are a myriad of ways you experience acne-triggering stress.

If you’re a woman, especially be aware. In this 2014 study, it was found that modern life presents many stressors which can aggravate acne.

Researchers found that women are especially affected by stress during their daily routine―in their jobs, taking care of the kids, their role as a spouse. Women also have a higher risk of developing psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. Making things worse, lack of sleep (hey, women juggle so many things, right?) adds to stress, which in turn can negatively impact health, hormonal secretion and immunity. And let’s not forget how your menstrual cycle can throw everything out of whack as well.

It’s no wonder that an ever-streaming flow of heightened stress is constantly exacerbating your breakouts

However, it is important to recognize the reaction of your body when chronic stress hits you. Here is the list of the most common and easy-to-detect responses:

    • Being easily frustrated

    • Feeling overwhelmed – as if you’re losing control

    • Difficulty breathing and trying to relax

    • Low self-esteem

    • Avoiding things you used to like and love doing

    • Headaches

    • Low energy and fatigue

    • Upset stomach

    • Aches and tense muscles

    • Poor sleeping patterns

    • Chest pain

    • Frequent cold and infection

    • Worrying

    • Racing thoughts

    • Disorganized thoughts

How can you relieve stress so you can calm your skin?

Here are a few tips I would recommend when you’re leading a stressful lifestyle and your skin is in need of some TLC.

Write a journal

Writing what stresses you out can be a really easy way of self-therapy. Multiple types of research have shown that a form of journaling or keeping up-to-date notes on how you feel can have relaxing long-term benefits. Simply try to write down anything and everything that stresses you out or makes you feel anxious, when your journal is full, go through it and try to build a resistance towards those things. Once you learn how to control stressful situations, your skin will thank you.

Yoga it out

Yoga it out

Where do I start? Well, Yoga is an amazing way of reducing and managing stress. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced Yogi, all you need is a mat and concentration. Yoga will help you stimulate your mind and flex your body in ways you didn’t think you can before. What is more, you could give Hot Yoga a go, it’s an amazing way of opening your pores while relaxing your body and practicing mindfulness at the same time. Your skin couldn’t be happier!

Touch your face less

You might have heard it before but it does really matter. Being stressed is hard enough, being stressed with pimples or rash it another level. When stressed out people tend to go back to their bad habits and picking already existing pimples is often a ‘good alternative’ to occupy your mind. However, it will only make things worse, we really advise not to pick your pimples or skin, in general. Keep your hands off it if you can.

Follow a good diet

When we say a ‘good diet’, what we really mean is ‘acne friendly diet’. You might not know yet, but certain foods can induce or help trigger acne. We all know those days when something goes wrong and you want to immerse yourself into McDonald’s fast food and not think about anything. But hold on, we have a better solution. We have written about the most common acne triggering foods, it’s worth a read and could really help you, especially in stressful situations.

Believe me, I do get it – it’s awful, particularly when stress makes your acne worse. But I can assure you, by taking good care of yourself BEFORE stress hits, you can help reduce the negative impact of stress in your life AND your skin.

Ready to clear your acne once and for all? We can help.

From our experience treating thousands of clients, acne usually appears to be triggered by a combination of issues, rather than one. That’s why a typical one-size-fits-all approach rarely works when it comes to clearing and controlling acne over the long run.

If you have tried it all and still have acne, our comprehensive 16-week Online Acne Program is the answer. Our Online Acne Program has a 95% success rate helping thousands of clients get clear. We can help you too!

Get started on your journey to clear by booking an Online Acne Consult today.

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About the Founder: Jessica Gremley

Jessica has been a Medical Esthetician, Certified Acne Specialist and Healing Diets Coach since 2003. After struggling with acne for more than a decade, she became determined to find a way to clear acne without pharmaceuticals for herself and eventually, future clients. Today, she offers a complete acne regimen that combines proven non-comedogenic skincare products, natural supplements, lifestyle coaching, and support from trained acne specialists to achieve lifelong clear skin. She and her staff serve locally at Natural Acne Clinic in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and nationally via NAC’s Online Acne Program.



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