Stress And Acne: Causes & Prevention Tactics

If you’re one of the millions of college students out there who have to deal with increased levels of stress during exam time, you’re probably experiencing some form of acne breakout. This is because acne and stress have a direct correlation with one another.

In fact, during the early 2000’s a study was published in the Stanford University Archive of Dermatology that reported college students experiencing increased amounts of acne breakouts during exam season.

Why Does Stress Cause Acne?

When you break down how your body responds to being exposed to a high-stress environment, it makes sense that acne flares up. Your body disrupts its normal flow to direct both oxygen and blood to areas that are crucial for combating stress.

This means other areas of your body that need oxygen and blood to thrive don’t receive the sufficient amount. The number one area that experiences this withdrawal during your body’s response to stress is your skin.

Since your skin lacks both the blood and oxygen that it needs to thrive, it causes it to appear dull, dehydrated, and more prone to acne breakouts as well as clogged pores.

What Are Stress Pimples?

Stress pimples are a form of acne that develops as a result of your body having to deal with a lot of stress combined with a poor diet and lack of sleep.

Stress pimples are entirely avoidable, all you have to do is live a healthy lifestyle, and you can say goodbye to those unwanted bumps forever.

What Causes Stress Acne?

Even though scientists still haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what causes stress acne, they have come up with a couple of theories that seem to hold true. Below we will break down a popular theory that most scientists seem to stand by.

The cells in your skin that are responsible for producing sebum are known to contain receptors specifically for stress hormones. For those who aren’t aware as to what sebum is, don’t worry.

Sebum is a produced deep in the cells of your skin and is known to have an oily texture to it. Once it mixes with the dead skin cells and bacteria prevalent on your face, it will continue to clog up your hair follicles, which undoubtedly leads to a stress pimple or acne breakout.

acne and stress

When you’re dealing with increased amounts of stress, the cells responsible for releasing sebum into your skin end up becoming unregulated. This causes an overload of oil production which will clog your hair follicles. The clogging is what causes more and more acne to flare up.

Those who are especially stressed typically start to pick their acne covered skin, which is the opposite action you want to be doing.

Should You Push Out Stress Pimples?

You do not want to push out stress pimples because that will cause more acne to form, which sets back the time it would take for your skin to clear up.

When you push out the pus that’s filled in a pimple, you’re leaving your skin exposed to external environmental conditions that can worsen your acne condition.

In fact, your skin becomes susceptible to new forms of bacteria that will fill up the open hair follicle and spread to cover more of your face.

On top of causing more stress pimples to flare up, your attempt to squeeze the area will also cause permanent scarring, which is entirely irreversible.

Ways To Prevent Stress Acne

You can easily prevent stress acne from ever becoming a problem if you adhere to the advice we are about to give you below.

Make sure to receive an ample amount of sleep per night to avoid a stress hormone called cortisol from being produced in increased amounts. The increase in this particular hormone will directly lead to acne breakouts.

Your skin will appreciate the time you spend sleeping, so make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep a night or nap throughout the day.

You want to eliminate any refined sugars that are popular in Western diets from your diet. Your body ends up living in an inflammatory cycle because of sugar which will lead to stress pimples.

sleeping man

As a result of reducing your sugar intake, your body’s metabolic stress levels decrease. This ultimately aids in keeping your skin clear and acne free.

The less you touch your face with your hands, the less likely acne will develop. If stress pimples do pop up, the number one rule you should always stand by is not picking at the acne.

This also means you should avoid over washing and exfoliating your face because it will turn a bad skin situation into a horrible one. In fact, your skin will worsen to the point that it will become overly inflamed and irritated.

You can protect your skin when you know you’re about to deal with a stressful time in your life by applying a gentle moisturizer. Typically over the counter acne medications will suffice for such treatments.

Make sure to use moisturizers that feature ingredients that contain anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial properties.

Fact Or Myth: What Causes Acne Other Than Stress?


Sweating and Acnes: Countless studies have proven that sweat does not correlate with your face and acne production. This means you don’t have to instantly shower after a rigorous exercise session because the sweat will not clog your pores.

Keep in mind that if you excessively wash your face, you run the risk of drying and irritating your skin.

acne and stress


Cosmetics & Acne: If you buy cheap makeup brands that do not feature the label comedogenic, water-based, or oil-free, then you are causing acne flare-ups to occur.

This is because your skin becomes irritated and your pores will clog up when you apply such cheap makeup brands.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you now have a more in-depth understanding of how stress and acne directly affect one another. So, when exam season starts to come around, you know exactly what to do to avoid being a victim of stress pimples.

For those who have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the section below, and we’ll make sure to provide the answer you need.