November 01, 2021 7 min read

MadeMan is a firm believer in self-care. Healthy masculinity means taking care of yourself so that you are able to take care of those around you. 

When your mental health begins to negatively affect your appearance, you know that it is time for you to start prioritizing your wellbeing. Today we will be discussing stress acne, how to avoid it, and how to treat it.

What Is Stress Acne?

One of the most common triggers of acne is stress. Stress acne flares up after repeatedly experiencing high levels of stress, and these acne flare-ups may be more common in acne-prone skin. 

When this happens, an increase in stress-related hormones, like cortisol, will be released into your body. This process is known to increase the rate at which sebaceous glands produce sebum. 

One of these hormones is called CRH, or corticotropin-releasing hormone. When produced, CHR can bind to receptors in the sebaceous glands, increasing the skin’s oil production and causing the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum faster. 

Whether it is CHR or another stress-related hormone, by increasing sebum production, there will also be an increase in the amount of sebum that can get clogged in one’s pores.

When sebum mixed with dead skin cells, dirt, or bacteria gets clogged in your hair follicles, it can result in irritation and acne.

The Consequences of Stress Acne

Stress can result in several different types of acne that may require their own specialized treatment. Your acne severity can depend on your specific skin type, and the level of stress you are experiencing.

Whiteheads

Whiteheads are small clogged pores that develop when the follicle wall bulges but the oil and dead skin cells cause the pore to remain closed on the surface. Whiteheads appear as small white bumps on the skin.

Blackheads

Blackheads are produced when the follicle is filled with excess oil, and dead skin cells become clogged but remain open to the surface. These bumps get their name because of the black hue that develops when the buildup is exposed to the air.

Pustules

Pustules are extremely similar to papules in terms of appearance. The major difference between the two is that pustules contain white or yellow pus visible at the tip. The swollen pimple usually ranges from 1mm to 5mm in size. 

Cysts

Cysts are the most severe individual form of acne. Clogged pores and oil glands sometimes result in the development of cysts and nodules deep beneath the skin. The cysts are red, swollen, filled with pus, and appear similar to boils. They can be tender to touch.

How Can I Manage Stress?

One of the best ways to prevent stress acne is to be proactive about managing your stress. No matter how hard we try, feeling stressed is pretty much unavoidable. Still, there are several easy ways for you to reduce your stress levels.

Sleep

Sleep can offer you an escape from the stresses of daily life. Blood flow increases in your skin when you sleep, which can help it heal, so sleep is helpful for stress relief and healing any damage already acquired by your skin. 

The healthy amount of hours of rest needed for each person varies depending on what their day looks like and what is possible for each person’s busy schedule. The general belief, however, is that it takes about eight hours to properly rejuvenate your skin.

Exercise

Along with acne, one of the visceral physical responses of feeling stressed is to tense up. Exercise can offer immediate relief to your tensed muscles. Making time for the gym in your daily life is essential for your physical and mental health, but not even a full workout is necessary for assisting with your stress.

When feeling stressed, take a few minutes to walk around the block, do some stretches, or perform jumping jacks. Exercise will prompt your body to release hormones like endorphins that can help you to feel good.

Organize

Sometimes locating the source of your stress can be the best first step for ridding it from your life. Disorganization is often a major cause of stress or, in many instances, can play a role in exacerbating the tensions of your daily life. 

Taking a moment to tidy up your workspace or bedroom can help offer some mental clarity in the same way that tidying up your schedule might. Write timed to-do lists to follow and give yourself space in your schedule to make mistakes and take breaks. 

Having this list to return to throughout the day can be both satisfying and helpful in managing your time.

Take A Break

We recognize that balancing work, family, and social obligations might seem impossible to fit breaks into your schedule, but taking a little time every day for yourself and trying out relaxation techniques is necessary for maintaining your mental well-being. 

Most men have undeniably stacked schedules, but if you can set aside even a few minutes to rest your mind, you will combat the buildup of internal stress accrued throughout your day. 

Reserving a moment to meditate, read a chapter of a book, listen to your favorite playlist, or shoot some hoops can positively influence your mindset and attitude. 

If you find yourself with only a few minutes to yourself, we recommend using that time to take some deep breaths, relax your muscles, and slow your heart rate before returning to your busy day.

How To Treat Stress Acne

As you learn to manage your stress, you may want to treat the acne that has already developed. There are several easy ways to do so. 

Better Products

One of the easiest changes that you can make to your routine to improve the quality of your skin is to invest in better products. 

When selecting a cleanser, look for something that is lightweight and water-based. Avoid products with harsh chemicals that leave your skin red and dry. These products will be less likely to irritate your already broken-out skin. 

We recommend The Resetter

This cleanser is water-based and uses all-natural ingredients. The product will provide you with a deep, gentle, refreshing cleanse that will clean out your pores without causing any damage to the moisture barrier. 

You can apply these same standards when selecting your moisturizer. A common reason for people to leave moisturizer out of their skincare routine is the fear of the substance clogging their pores and giving them more acne. 

To avoid this from happening, select a moisturizer that is non-comedogenic, meaning that it was specially designed to not clog your hair follicles. 

Also, look out for a fragrance-free option which is less likely to irritate your skin than a moisturizer with added fragrance.

We recommend The Refresher

The Refresher is a water-based moisturizer that uses all-natural ingredients. The product restores and repairs your skin using an antioxidant blend that is fast-absorbing promotes the natural repair process.

Spot Treatment

To treat your hormonal acne, you can try using a spot treatment. Spot treatments work by directly delivering ingredients to your blemishes. 

There are several different items that you can use as a spot treatment, like essential oils, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or drying lotions. 

One of the most common ingredients for spot treatments is retinol, but you should speak to a dermatologist before using certain spot treatments if you have any skin conditions. 

Retinol is a type of retinoid made from vitamin A that can treat breakouts and dark spots. Once a retinoid is absorbed into the skin, it will move beneath the outer layer and neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules missing an electron. 

These unstable molecules will attempt to balance themselves by stealing an electron from a stable molecule, damaging skin cells.

Retinol does make your skin more sensitive to light than it already is. Therefore, if you wear retinol products throughout the day, you must apply sunscreen at the end of your morning skincare routine.

Use either a mineral and chemical sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, meaning that it defends against both UVA and UVB rays and has an SPF of at least 30. 

Pimple patches can also be used on individual spots to help treat the signs of acne.

How To Help Treat Scarring

If you have struggled with stress acne in the past, you may be on the search for solutions to treat the scars that it left behind. Your dermatologist can inform you of any prescription medications available that may help you, but here are a few other options for you to consider.

Chemical Peel

Chemical peels are facial treatments that can deeply exfoliate the skin’s surface. A chemical solution is applied during the treatment that can lead to new skin growth and gradually fade dark spots. 

It is safest to leave this procedure to the professionals but if you opt for an at-home peel, consult with a professional beforehand to ensure positive results.

Injections

There are a variety of injection options that you can use to treat scarring. To treat sunken scars, you can receive fillers that use collagen or fat-based substances. The substance will be injected into the scar to plump the skin. You will eventually require more fillers to maintain your appearance.

You can also look into receiving medical injections from a physician to minimize the appearance of your scars and reduce discomfort. For treating raised scars, corticosteroid injections are a particularly popular option.

Dermabrasion

Dermabrasion is a skin resurfacing treatment that removes both the top and middle layer of the skin. During the procedure, a rapidly rotating device is used to sand the skin. This is meant to help encourage cell regeneration and prompt the growth of new skin that is smoother, clearer, and more evenly toned than before.

Dermabrasion is known to work less effectively on deeper scars, but treatment options for your specific situation can be discussed with your dermatologist.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are ways to prevent future stress acne, treat the stress acne you’re currently struggling with, and rid your skin of evidence of the stress acne you’ve dealt with in the past. The important thing is that you begin to practice prioritizing your mental and physical health.

 

Sources:

Acne vulgaris: pathogenesis, treatment, and needs assessment | PubMed

Sunscreens | PubMed

Evidence and Considerations in the Application of Chemical Peels in Skin Disorders and Aesthetic Resurfacing | NCBI

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