Does Stress Cause Acne? How to Keep the Vicious Cycle in Check

Stress & Acne

If you’re struggling with acne, there is but one golden rule you must bear in mind: it’s not your fault! You’re not struggling with a face full of blemishes because of the chocolate ice cream and French fries you devoured last week, nor are you being punished for being a bad person. The bacteria that causes acne lives in everyone’s skin, and the condition of acne itself is not curable. Nobody is immune! That said, there are certain extrinsic factors that are known to fuel the acne cycle, and stress is chief among them. Read on to learn more about keeping factors like stress in check—you just might discover some refreshing peace of mind along with clearer skin!

YOUR JOB

It’s more than job stress. Your skin absorbs 60% of what touches it. That means the substances with which you come in contact on a daily basis can have a big effect, especially if they are of the comedogenic (pore clogging) variety. There are too many different work environments to list here, but if you work around any type of oil (like airborne grease from a fast food restaurant, or industrial oils such as those used in cars and factories) you need to take proper precautions. Considering your phone and keyboard are likely harboring unseen grime and germs, wash your hands frequently and invest in some electronic cleaning wipes to prevent it from spreading to your face.

YOUR SLEEP

Believe it or not, a good night’s sleep can also do amazing things for your skin. Why? A healthy, well-rested body has the resources needed to build a strong immune system. This can help fight acne lesions when they occur, and that makes combating your acne a whole lot easier.

YOUR TAN

Yes, vitamin D from the sun is good for you in that it helps your body to properly absorb calcium. But is baking in the sun a good approach to “clearing” acne blemishes? In a word, no. Sunbathing will dry your skin, causing your skin’s sebaceous glands to produce more oil. And, when your skin has been exposed to the sun, it has to slough off old cells more frequently. This might sound okay, but the reality is that the dead cells and extra oil generated create the perfect storm for clogged pores and further breakouts. If you work or play in the sun, always apply a broad-spectrum sun protectant—one that’s labeled “oil-free,” “non-comedogenic” or “non-acnegenic.” They won’t break you out, but they will protect your skin from sun damage and maybe even help to keep it clear.

YOUR STRESS LEVEL

You know that stress is not a good thing, but did you know that acne and stress can be related? It’s purely chemical. When you become tense, your adrenal glands go to work, flooding your bloodstream with the hormone cortisol. This triggers the sweat glands in your face to produce more oil. And there is a good chance this extra oil, produced at a turbocharged rate, will mix with dead skin and clog your pores, trapping acne-causing bacteria inside and in turn leading to breakouts—which are stressful in and of themselves! When it comes to managing your stress levels, a lot of the clichés apply: Eat a well-balanced diet, get proper sleep, exercise, avoid situations that cause you stress, and so on. Since you’re a unique person, you have to find your own way to deal with the reality of stress. You might hate yoga but love meditation, for example. So, take the time to find out what decreases your stress. Your skin will thank you.