Can stress cause pimples? For years, scientists believed it couldn't, but new research has revealed a definite link between emotional and psychological stress and acne outbreaks.
The Effects of Stress on the Body
Stress has many different physiological effects on the body, including:
- Elevated heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Weight loss or gain
- Hair loss
- Appetite changes
- Elevated hormone levels
It is these types of health effects that can also lead to stress-induced acne outbreaks and pimples.
How Can Stress Cause Pimples?
Increased levels of stress stimulate the body's production of various hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones trigger different changes in the skin, such as increased oil and sebum production. Excess oil and sebum can easily clog pores, leading to pimples or inflamed acne outbreaks and other skin conditions.
Several studies have been done on college students to track their acne levels during periods of low stress (regular class work and vacations) and periods of high stress (exams). The findings have concluded that while stress is not the only factor that can influence the severity of acne - diet, health, climate, and age are additional factors - stress is likely to increase the severity of acne outbreaks, causing more painful, inflamed pimples that may be more noticeable. Individuals who tend to be meticulous about their appearance may become even more stressed as they develop acne, leading to even more severe symptoms and more numerous pimples.
Indirect Ways Stress Causes Acne
While not all the study results have been conclusive about deciding can stress cause pimples, there are other, indirect ways that too much stress can lead to acne outbreaks.
- Medication: Pimples and acne outbreaks can be a side effect of some medications prescribed to control stress.
- Diet: Individuals under a lot of stress tend to eat less healthy meals and more junk food, which can in turn lead to vitamin deficiencies that may increase the chance of acne outbreaks.
- Sleep: If an individual with moderate or severe acne does not get enough rest, the body and skin does not have enough time to heal the outbreak and it can gradually get worse. Because stress can cause insomnia, this can lead to more pimples.
- Healing process: Too much stress can slow the healing process and since pimples are types of sores and wounds in the skin, they can take longer to clear up if an individual is stressed.
Is My Acne Stress-Related?
Nearly everyone experiences acne outbreaks and pimples at some time in their life, most often from the onset of puberty until their mid- or late-20s. While some acne is normal, you can determine if your pimples are caused by stress if you can determine what your stress triggers are and whether or not your acne changes at that time. For example, a nervous student may feel a lot of stress near final exams or when a big project is due, and many college students feel stressed by too much work, loneliness, and other factors, which can lead to even more severe acne during the college years. Track your acne outbreaks - severity, redness, number of pimples, etc. - and compare them to the times when you're feeling most stressed to see if that stress may be exaggerating your skin condition.
Avoiding Pimples Caused by Stress
While some pimples are perfectly normal, you can minimize the risks of stress-induced acne by taking simple steps to control both the stress and the pimples.
- Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, to ensure your body has all the nutrients it needs to keep your hormones balanced and your skin healthy.
- Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated.
- Get plenty of sleep to avoid burnout and exhaustion that can lead to more stress.
- Take control of the stress in your life by finding stress management techniques that can help you stay calm and in control.
- Consider learning how to meditate for a quick escape from daily stress.
- Practice other quick stress relievers so you can easily cope with everyday stress.
- Wash your face regularly with gently medicating soaps or foams to help keep pores clear and your skin healthy.
Can stress cause pimples? For some people, yes. For others, the indirect effects of stress can lead to acne outbreaks. By understanding the connection between stress and pimples, you can control both so you never have to stress out over an unsightly blemish again.
For more information on acne and how to manage it successfully, visit LoveToKnow Skin Care.