The truth behind acne and stress

Learn how your skin reacts to stress and simple habits to mitigate it.

We all experience stress. Whether at work, in our relationships with friends and family, or even when worrying about acne problems, stress is unavoidable and plays a critical role in our health.  But how exactly does it affect acne and breakouts?



When the mind is under stress, the body excretes higher levels of hormones. Certain ones, such as androgens or cortisol, can cause the skin to produce more oil, which in turn clogs pores and causes breakouts.



Stress not only creates an environment in the body that fuels inflammation, but it causes the body to heal more slowly. This includes inflamed acne areas, which can worsen and prolong breakouts.


Is my acne stress-related?

Since acne is a multifaceted issue, it can be difficult to identify if stress is what’s irritating your skin. Consider keeping track of stress levels and breakout occurrences with a calendar or journal. Over time you may be able to spot stress-related patterns. 


Keep in mind that side effects of stress could also be aggravating your skin. For example, if you eat sugary foods when you’re stressed at work; the stress itself isn’t causing a breakout, but that extra sugar could be. Track these patterns as well and modify your habits if possible.


Stress Reduction

 The good news is that you can incorporate habits to manage stress. Here are strategies proven to reduce stress:

  • Sleep: Be sure to get enough quality sleep every night
  • Breathing: Take time every day and when stressed for deep breaths
  • Exercise: Integrate regular movement into your routine
  • Yoga or Meditation: Start practicing these proven stress-reducers
  • Diet: Consume a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains (anti-inflammatory foods)
  • Talking/Therapy: Don’t bottle up stress, instead open up to a family member, friend or therapist

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