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How to Heal Acne Caused by Stress

By Barb Nefer ; Updated August 14, 2017

Stress does not directly cause acne, but research shows it may worsen the skin disease. Standford University researchers studied 22 students and discovered their outbreaks were more severe when they were stressed about upcoming exams. The exact reason is unknown, but the Acne Resource Center Online explains it may be due to increased hormone production and impaired immunity. You can take extra precautions to heal your acne when you know stress is a factor.

  1. Apply over-the-counter acne treatments regularly. recommends looking for salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as the active ingredients. This minimizes the excess oil and skin cells that worse acne by plugging your pores. The Mayo Clinic states it takes between four and eight weeks for acne treatments to work. They must be applied consistently even if you don't see immediate improvement.

  2. Go to bed at a reasonable hour and get enough sleep every night. explains a good night's sleep is a stress reducer. Sufficient sleep also strengthens your immune system so it can fight bacteria that contributes to pimple outbreaks.

  3. Exercise regularly and shower afterward. Physical activity like walking, running, aerobics and yoga is good for stress management but it works up a sweat. The Mayo Clinic warns perspiration irritates acne and may worsen it. Tie your hair back if it is long so it doesn't hang over your face and trap sweat. Take a shower as soon as possible after your workout.

  4. Relax you mind and body with meditation, visualization exercises or progressive muscle relaxation. Doing at least one of these activities every day brings down your stress level, advises the Help Guide self-help website. You can purchase meditation CDs or download guided meditations and visualizations for portable music players. You can easily do progressive muscle relaxation on your own. Lie down comfortably and tighten and relax each muscle group, holding the tension for several seconds before you release it.

  5. Tip

    Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics if stress is interfering with your immunity and you are having problems with acne-causing bacteria. The Mayo Clinic explains oral antibiotics can be combined with topical treatments. They will only be used until your acne starts to clear up because long-term use allows the bacteria to build up immunity.


    Stress can cause or worsen other physical problems besides acne. Help Guide warns it can lead to digestive problems, weight gain, depression, eczema and other skin conditions, muscle pain and heart disease.

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