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Does Stress Cause Acne?


Updated May 27, 2014

Woman looking at self in mirror.
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Question: Does Stress Cause Acne?
"I was wondering about the link between acne (or pimples) and stress--is there one? If so, how can I tell when acne is stress-related? Finally, what are some other physical symptoms of stress?"
Answer: There is a link between adult acne and stress, and research has proven this link. (In fact, stress is considered one of the main culprits when it comes to acne in adults.) This happens because, when your body is stressed, the increase in stress hormones can throw off your equilibrium and you can experience all sorts of changes, such as weight gain, increased blood pressure, and worsened acne. Experts are divided on whether stress creates acne or just worsens it, but it does increase the amount of oil your skin secretes, which can clog pores and cause breakouts.

One way to tell if acne is stress-related is to be aware of when breakouts tend to occur, and examine your stress levels from the preceeding week. If breakouts tend to match up with the times that your body is feeling stressed, there is probably a link. (If, however, you always tend to get acne on specific spots like the right side of your chin or your left cheek, that could actually be due to environmental factors like your cell phone resting on your face as you talk.)

You can practice stress management techniques to keep stress-related acne in check, and be sure to wash your face regularly as well. I also recommend exfoliating and even using a home microdermabrasion kit, which removes the top layer of skin and stimulates new, fresh skin to grow, but I'm not a dermatologist, so that recommendation is only a lay opinion. (See this article for more information on natural treatments for acne.)

As for the rest of your body, stress affects your body and health in many ways, from minor to major. It impacts virtually every system in your body, and even ages you prematurely. For more information on stress and health, I have these articles that can provide more details:

Stress management is the obvious choice for increased health as well as clearer skin. This Stress Reliever Personality Test can help you to find stress relievers that fit best with your personality and lifestyle.

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