Acne is a skin condition caused when pores become clogged with oil, dead skin or bacteria. It can cause considerable discomfort and take an extensive period to heal and clear up.
Your confidence and self-worth may also suffer due to social anxiety. Feeling shy or uncomfortable in social settings may lead to further emotional problems in the long run.
Stress is an unfortunately inevitable part of life, but it doesn’t have to have an unpleasant effect on your skin. Fortunately, stress can be managed and several preventative measures are available that may help minimize its negative effects.
One of the primary causes of acne is excessive oil production, which can clog pores and lead to breakouts. According to Joshua Zeichner MD – board-certified dermatologist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City – when you’re stressed your body produces more sebum than usual.
According to Angela Lamb, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, many people with acne-prone skin experience flare-ups when under stress.
Good news: Reducing stress is one of the best ways to combat acne and other health issues. Not only will it make you feel better, sleep better, and eat healthier food, but it can also help protect against future outbreaks.
Another way to manage stress is by carving out time for enjoyable activities. Spending quality time with family and friends, rejuvenating your batteries, or finding ways to get outdoors can all be relaxing activities that help lower stress levels.
Alternatively, you can try some easy exercises like meditation, deep breathing or yoga to reduce stress levels. Make it a habit of performing these activities regularly and incorporate mindfulness – the practice of paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment – into your routine.
If none of these strategies prove successful for you, it may be time to visit a dermatologist for further diagnosis and treatment options. A dermatologist can evaluate your skin to identify the source of your acne and take steps to prevent future breakouts.
Meanwhile, it’s worth taking note of when your acne breaks out and comparing these times to when you typically break out. If the breakouts seem to occur more frequently during times of high stress, then this could indicate stress acne and require different approaches for treating.
Thankfully, there are many acne-fighting ingredients that can help treat stress pimples. When searching for an over-the-counter solution, look for cleansers, serums and masks formulated with salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur or azelaic acid; these will unclog pores, eliminate acne-causing bacteria and reduce inflammation over time.
Your diet can have a major effect on the health of your skin, affecting sebum (oil) production, hormone regulation and inflammation. That is why it’s beneficial to eat an array of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and whole grains in order to promote good skin health.
Dr. Frieling advises that individuals avoid foods which may exacerbate acne breakouts, such as white bread, cornflakes, white potatoes or fries, doughnuts and other pastries as well as sugary drinks. Eating these high-glycemic items raises blood sugar levels and releases insulin and insulin-like growth factors that encourage excess sebum production in the skin.
Other foods to avoid if you want to get rid of acne include full-fat milk and dairy products, red meats, chocolate, processed junk food and fried foods with too much fat. Eating these greasy items causes your skin to secrete more oil which clogs pores and increases inflammation.
Furthermore, increasing your intake of foods that are rich in vitamins and antioxidants such as dark leafy greens, carrots and eggs is beneficial to help reduce inflammation.
Vitamin A can reduce pimples on your face and improve its appearance, as it directly influences retinoids production in sebaceous glands. You can find this vitamin in foods like tuna, mackerel, liver, cream/feta cheese, butter, eggs, avocados and broccoli.
Vitamin E can have a beneficial effect on your skin as well. This fat-soluble vitamin shields your cells from damage and encourages healthy cell turnover, leading to improved skin health.
Another way to improve your skin’s condition is by adding probiotics, bacteria that have beneficial effects on gut and immunity. They may also assist in decreasing hormones linked to acne development.
In general, there isn’t enough evidence to prove that certain foods will have an effect on your skin. But keeping track of what you eat can be beneficial; keeping a journal can help identify which foods may be contributing to acne issues and whether they should be avoided.
Hormones are essential for health and balance within the body, but they also have potential danger. Hormones may cause inflammation and damage to skin tissue.
Your body releases hormones into the bloodstream to regulate hundreds of processes. These hormones manage fluid and electrolyte balance, regulate blood sugar levels and pressure, as well as maintain body temperature. They also coordinate various bodily functions like growth/reproduction, endocrine gland function and digestion.
The human body contains over 50 distinct hormones that work together to maintain homeostasis, or the balance of all internal processes. Each hormone acts differently and only on cells with receptors that receive its message.
Hormones can also stimulate sebum production, a natural oil that lubricates our skin and hair. This oil comes from your sebaceous glands located beneath the surface of your skin as well as on hair follicles.
When these glands produce too much sebum, it can clog your pores and lead to acne. This is particularly common during puberty when the body produces sex hormones such as testosterone which have been known to increase sebum production in both men and women alike.
Hormonal acne can occur during this period. Your doctor may suggest taking a blood test to identify what’s affecting your hormone levels.
Another way to combat hormones and acne is by changing your diet. Dairy products, for instance, can be a major trigger when it comes to hormonal imbalances and acne.
Fenton suggests the best way to limit dairy intake to a few servings per week or completely abstain from it altogether. Skim milk and fat-free dairy in particular may contribute to hormonal imbalance.
Menopause may cause a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, which may worsen acne for some women. If you’re struggling with breakouts during this time, hormone replacement therapy can help ease symptoms and prevent future breakouts.