Our skin is our largest organ and the mirror of our physical and mental well-being.
Everyone who has been through it knows that living with acne-prone skin can be very stressful. You will find more information on this subject in: The psychological impact of acne.
In this article, we take a look at the impact that psychological stress can have on professional or personal life, on the body in general and on the skin in particular. We also explore the relationship between stress and acne, how stress can either cause or exacerbate blemishes. We will also be interested in things we can try to do to help decrease our stress, as well as to minimize the impact on our skin.
What is stress and how does it develop?
Stress is something very personal: for some it acts as a stimulant, for others it is a pressure 1 . And, when it is felt to be pressure, individuals react to it differently: some panic over seemingly minor issues, while others remain calm even in the face of significant difficulties.
There is “good stress” (eustress) and “negative stress” (distress). In stressful situations, the body produces hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, blood pressure rises, and the body goes into alert mode. For our ancestors, finding themselves in this situation in case of danger turned out to be advantageous for their survival because they were thus able to fight or flee.
Between 50% and 80% of acne patients agree that stress makes things worse
Today, the causes of stress are diverse. They can include: psychological loads, frustration at work, distress in private life, problems with relatives or friends or even illness. The pressure increases as the individual feels that they are expected to be good looking and healthy, to play sports, to have friendships, to be well informed, etc. And all at the same time! It is clear that many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to meet these growing demands. And the consequences are evident: the number of people affected by psychological disorders culminating in burnout has been on the rise for years. 2
How can stress cause or trigger acne?
Stress can disrupt your metabolism: you may have trouble sleeping or digesting, feeling depressed, and possibly irritable and out of balance. For many people, these signs appear shortly before they also affect the itchy skin and redness and blemishes.
Emotional stress has long been associated with acne, but research suggests that until recently science underestimated its impact on the severity of acne.
.sebaceous glands and can make acne worse. You can find more information on the sebaceous glands in: the development of acne and the causes and triggers of acne. You will also find more information in: acne and hormones .
A study shows that acne patients reported a two-day lag between a stressful episode and an episode of their acne exacerbation.
Stress can also cause some people to quibble with their pimples, which promotes the spread of bacteria and can worsen inflammation, so mild acne symptoms can become more severe. This is called excoriated acne, and you can find more information on this topic in: the .
Research has also shown that when blemishes are triggered, stress can slow their healing by 40% . It is therefore likely that blemishes will take longer to disappear.
What does stress acne look like?
Stress acne most often takes the form of an increase in the number of blackheads (closed comedones), whiteheads (open comedones) and pimples. You will find more information on the different types of blemishes in: development of acne .
There are many forms of acne, and you can find more information about them in: the different types of acne .
Tips for reducing stress
If everything around you seems to be going awry and everyone is asking you for something at the same time, it’s not easy to stay calm. Here are a few things you can do to try and stay calm and strengthen your resistance to everyday stress:
Autogenic training, yoga, meditation, wellness treatment, traditional Chinese medicine can help you relax, develop a positive mental attitude and improve your self-confidence.
Sport and physical activity
Sport releases endorphins (feel-good hormones) in the body. These hormones help you feel better and relax. Being in better shape also contributes to the development of self-esteem. You will find more information on this subject in: acne and sport .
A healthy, balanced diet rich in vegetables, fresh fruits and nuts can help you manage your stress better. Try to drink more water and less alcoholic or caffeinated drinks, which can trigger insulin production and exacerbate stress. You will find even more suggestions on what you can eat and what is best to avoid eating in: What changes can I make to my diet to help my acne-prone skin?