Monday, August 17, 2009

Stress Acne

Does stress cause acne? While some people seem to think there is no correlation between stress and acne. I prefer to take the Al Gore global warming, the discussion is closed approach, and believe there is such a thing as stress acne. Back in 2002, Stanford University did a study which showed that stressing over exams worsened acne. While it was a fairly small study, I am attracted to it like a moth to a flame.

I first recognized my stress acne while in college. Sure I had been fighting to get rid of my acne all through my high school years. But I was basically a happy go lucky kid in the stress department. Academically it wasn’t much of a problem and socially I was a typical well liked kid. So if being up tight or worrying has anything to do with any biological function, in high school I just wasn’t going to be affected by it.

Well, along comes college and yep you guessed it. Stress for me is everywhere. Whether it was being on my own for the first time not knowing what to expect, or just plain fearing that I was going to flunk out, whatever the reason, stress and I were formally introduced, I was under a great deal of It and It was starting to show its effects on my skin. I was getting a whole lot of new zits and pimples as well as a worsening of the acne I was always trying to get rid of. As if that weren’t enough. It wasn’t until my second semester that I realized what was happening and the relationship between my acne and stress was explained to me in an off chance conversation with my dorm advisor.

It was a Friday afternoon and I was going home for the weekend. I had a friend that was coming up to see a basketball game and was going to leave a key with my advisor Kit. Well when Kit opened the door it was obvious she had been picking at her face. She was complaining that the stress of school was driving her acne nuts and she was at her wits end. Well like the proverbial light bulb going off over your head in a cartoon. I had a moment of clarity and realized what was making my acne go nuts too. Of course Kit mistook the look on my face as a look of confusion and proceeded to explain to me how stress can affect your acne in two ways.

First, stress stimulates your adrenal glands to secrete male hormones which in turn stimulate the Sebaceous gland which produce more Sebum which causes acne pimples.

Second, stress reduces the capacity of your body to mend it’s self by weakening your immune system.

So, not only is stress going to cause acne, it’s going to make it harder for your body heal or get rid of acne you already have. And you didn’t think God had a sense of humor.

Anyway after leaving the key with Kit I am sure you know what was on my mind as a drove home for the weekend. Yep that’s right, what was I going to do to get rid of the stress in my life so I could get rid of my stress acne.


  1. Well is it the chicken or the egg that came first? Acne stress or stress acne?

  2. i agree with matt.


  3. I am probably the most affected person you would ever meet whose acne just goes wild because of anxiety and stress. I could almost swear that I had a pimple appear at the very moment I was called on in class one day. My solution for pimples causes by stress. The same as yours. Lose the stress lose the pimples. Keep up the good work.