How Stress Can Aggravate Your Acne

Few things can wreck a person’s confidence, such as acne. While it is a common skin condition experienced by many, most fail to understand its root cause, which is key to its prevention. The accumulation of bacteria on the face, diet changes, and sweat are the most common causes of acne; however, there are instances where acne breakouts can indicate a bigger issue, past the general explanation of clogged pores. Stress and hormonal imbalances can trigger acne breakouts too, and if you are experiencing repeated breakouts, this may be the article for you. 

While stress does not directly cause acne, studies have shown that it can exacerbate it by causing excessive sebum production, delaying wound recovery time, and promoting unhealthy habits that can lead to sudden flare-ups. 

Stress induces excessive sebum production

When we experience stress, the body regulates and responds to this stimulus by releasing androgens, corticotropin-releasing hormones (CRHs), and neuropeptides. 

Androgens and CRHs bind to receptors on sebaceous glands to stimulate sebum production. A rise in the levels of androgens and CRHs during stressful periods will therefore lead to the production of excessive sebum, which can mix with dead skin cells and other debris, clogging our pores and resulting in acne. Moreover, a neuropeptide identified as Substance P promotes the growth of sebaceous glands, which can also contribute to acne.

Stress delays our wound recovery time

Recent studies have shown that those experiencing elevated levels of stress tend to produce larger amounts of the hormones glucocorticoids and catecholamines. These hormones hinder the body’s ability to restore and repair the skin barrier, which functions to protect our skin from external threats such as infectious agents, chemicals, and allergens. When this barrier is not repaired quickly, the tight arrangement between our skin cells is severely disrupted, allowing external irritants to penetrate the skin more easily. This can result in increased skin irritation and the development of acne. 

When released, glucocorticoids reduce the number of cytokines present at the site of injury; cytokines are small proteins that have important roles in regulating tissue repair and are essential in order for wound healing to occur. A reduction in the number of cytokines delays this process, thus worsening and prolonging acne. In addition, catecholamines are a group of compounds that regulate a range of immune functions, such as the production of cytokines. Elevated levels of catecholamines during times of stress can directly inhibit or hinder the production of cytokines, hence delaying the wound healing process and contributing to acne. 

Stress promotes unhealthy habits that can aggravate acne

Individuals who are stressed tend to develop unhealthy habits such as smoking, over-indulging in comfort foods, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor sleep patterns among others. While these habits can provide the individual with temporary relief in the face of anxiety, they trigger the body’s inflammatory response and can result in flare-ups.  The pressures of daily life may also encourage individuals to pick at their skin, leading to further inflammation and scarring. Last but not least, stress can cause individuals to neglect self-care, which includes maintaining a consistent skincare routine. 

How to lessen the impact of stress on acne- Our tips

Incorporating physical activity into your lifestyle can help to alleviate your stress levels and regulate the production of stress-induced hormones. Yoga, meditation, as well as listening to music can also help. If a stressful event is coming up, ensure that you are getting sufficient sleep and are eating well-balanced meals to reduce further acne flare-ups. 

In addition to managing your stress levels, you might want to consider experimenting with our diverse range of skincare products. Our best-selling sebum control set (shown below) comprises a tea tree antiseptic face spray that removes impurities and minimizes pores for an improved skin texture, as well as a calendula-infused skin rejuvenation repair gel that reduces redness and calms sensitive skin. 

Tea tree oil contains a number of compounds, including terpinen-4-ol, that can kill certain bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Terpinen-4-ol also increases the activity of white blood cells, which play a key role in fighting germs and other foreign invaders. These germ-fighting properties make tea tree oil a valued natural remedy for the treatment of bacterial and fungal skin conditions, and can also be used to combat acne. In addition, creams and gels embedded with calendula soothes aggravated skin tissues, controls sebum production, and clears clogged pores of impurities such as dust, dirt, and pollutants. Incorporating these products into your skincare routine can prevent and/or reduce the severity of your acne breakouts. 

You can also consider visiting one of our four outlets for an Acne Clearance Facial, which involves thorough cleansing and smoothing of the skin using a high frequency blue light that kills acne-causing bacteria present on the skin whilst preventing future outbreaks. Our beauticians will also customize a facial mask suited to target your skin conditions, ensuring clear and radiant skin in no time. 

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