It’s widely understood that if you’re an acne sufferer, when you get stressed your skin gets stressed with you. Research has confirmed that increased stress levels and increased acne breakouts are directly correlated. But how?
Connections between Stress & Skin:
- Skin cells that produce sebum have receptors for stress hormones and produce more skin oil when we’re stressed. Sebum is the oily substance that mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria to clog the hair follicles, leading to a pimple or blackhead, or even an acne cyst.
- Similarly when the brain recognizes stress, it involuntarily releases stress hormones (cortisol) that help thicken the hair follicle's lining, leading to the formation of blackheads/whiteheads.
- Stress affects the immune system; the skin, being one of the body’s largest organs, is intricately connected to the rest of our physiology, including the mind. The body responds to stress by directing blood flow and oxygen to areas vital for fighting the stress, and withdraws from other areas includingthe skin. The skin subsequently becomes starved of blood and oxygen, making it dehydrated, dull, lifeless and more prone to clogged pores and breakouts.
Avoiding Stress Related Breakouts
Often stressful situations are unavoidable, but where possible we should undertake measures that reduce the severity of stress.
Good options to try are reading a book, taking a bath, meditation and exercise. Exercise especially, is a great way to reduce stress because it is often a distraction and break from whatever is causing you stress and it releases a bunch of great calming hormones like endorphins. Any kind of exercise; especially yoga & pilates, walking, running or team sports can be really helpful.
The added benefit is that not only does exercise decrease stress it also helps to decrease your stress related acne. As long as you are cleansing properly after sweating, you are getting your blood pumping which is great for refreshing and rejuvenating your skin.
Keep Up Your Routine
Another aspect of preventing breakouts during stressful periods is making sure you keep up your topical applications including cleansing, as well as any other acne management routines. Often when we’re busy we are getting to bed late or eating poorly, contributing to unhealthy skin, so it’s more important than ever to maintain our regime. This includes drinking plenty of water and washing make up off before bed.
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