After we surveyed over 700 people about their acne, we learned a lot about people’s experiences. I’m talking everything from people’s secret acne-treating weapons to the wildest things they’ve turned to to battle zits (like, banana peels?!). But one thing became very clear: Acne and stress are pretty intertwined.
First of all, if your mindset has ever been impacted by a breakout, you’re not alone. Our survey found that a whopping 85 percent of people’s mental health has been influenced by blemishes (including mine). And, specifically, 20 percent said that stress is definitely a major factor when it comes to dealing with acne. It’s not just data we’ve collected, though, multiple studies have found a connection between acne severity and stress.
“My skin was at its absolute worst last school year when I was dealing with an extremely high amount of stress along with anxiety and depression,” one person wrote. “This summer, with significantly less stress and being in a much better place with my mental health, my skin has cleared up so much.”
“When I get stressed I breakout, then I get more stressed,” writes another. Digging through the responses, there seemed to be a whole chicken and egg conundrum—stress can cause acne, but acne can also cause stress. “We know that stress and mood fluctuations can cause direct effects on the skin through hormonal changes as well as neuropeptide release,” explains Josie Howard, MD, a psychodermatologist and Abreva spokesperson.
“A period of intense stress can trigger blemishes, thereby becoming a physical manifestation of your mind.” —Josie Howard, MD.
To complicate the issue, your mind impacts how you see yourself. “Your self image varies depending on your mood and state of mind,” says Dr. Howard. “So a pimple that might seem lie a small thing in need of treatment one day could be a reason to cancel everything and stay in bed another day.” Truth.
Essentially, it’s a vicious cycle. “A period of intense stress can trigger blemishes, thereby becoming a physical manifestation of your mind,” says Dr. Howard. “And any kind of blemish on the face can impact confidence and self-esteem on many different levels.” So this is even more evidence that, when stressed, you should turn to one of the many stress-busting tactics that exist in order to calm everything down. Your skin will thank you for it.
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