Stress Breakouts: Understanding and Dealing with Stress-Induced Acne

16 januar 2024
Peter Mortensen


Stress is an inevitable part of our lives, and it can often take a toll on our skin. One common manifestation of stress on the skin is the development of stress-induced acne, also known as “stress breakouts.” These pesky pimples can not only be physically uncomfortable but can also have a significant impact on one’s self-esteem. In this article, we will delve deep into the world of stress breakouts, providing valuable insights for those interested in understanding and managing this common skin concern.

Understanding Stress Breakouts


Stress breakouts refer to acne flare-ups that are triggered or worsened by stress. When we experience stress, our body releases hormones such as cortisol, which can lead to the production of excess oil in the skin. This excess oil, combined with dead skin cells and bacteria, can clog the pores, resulting in the formation of pimples. Stress breakouts typically occur on the face, chest, and back, where the sebaceous glands are more active.

Historical Evolution of Stress Breakouts

The relationship between stress and acne has been a subject of interest for researchers for many years. In the 1950s, dermatologists observed a correlation between stress and acne severity in their patients, leading to the belief that psychological factors could influence the development of acne. However, it was not until the 1990s that scientific studies began to shed more light on this connection.

Researchers discovered that stress can aggravate existing acne and increase the likelihood of acne flare-ups in individuals already prone to the condition. The release of stress hormones can disrupt the balance of other hormones in the body, such as androgens, which play a role in sebum production. This hormonal imbalance can contribute to the development of stress breakouts.

Managing Stress Breakouts

Now that we understand the basics of stress breakouts, let’s explore some effective strategies for managing and preventing them:

1. Prioritize Stress Management: Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine. This can include exercise, meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy.

2. Maintain a Healthy Skincare Routine: Establishing a consistent skincare routine is crucial in managing stress breakouts. Cleanse your skin twice a day with a gentle cleanser to remove excess oil and impurities. Use products containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, which can help unclog pores and reduce inflammation.

3. Avoid Touching Your Face: Touching your face can transfer bacteria and irritants, leading to further breakouts. Resist the urge to pick or pop your pimples, as this can cause inflammation and potentially lead to scarring.

4. Eat a Balanced Diet: Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can support overall skin health. Avoiding processed and sugary foods may also help prevent acne breakouts.

5. Get Sufficient Sleep: A good night’s sleep is essential for overall health and can positively impact your skin. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to reduce stress and promote skin rejuvenation.

6. Seek Professional Help: If stress breakouts persist despite your best efforts, consider consulting a dermatologist. They can assess your skin condition, provide personalized treatment options, and recommend appropriate skincare products.


Stress breakouts can be a frustrating and challenging skin concern. By understanding the underlying mechanisms and implementing effective stress management strategies, you can reduce the frequency and severity of these breakouts. Remember, taking care of your overall well-being and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are essential components of managing stress-induced acne. So, prioritizing self-care and seeking professional guidance when necessary will help you achieve clearer, healthier skin.


– Smith, R. N., Mann, N. J., & Braue, A. (2007). The effect of a high-protein, low glycemic-load diet versus a conventional, high glycemic-load diet on biochemical parameters associated with acne vulgaris: a randomized, investigator-masked, controlled trial. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 57(2), 247-256.

– Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K., McGuire, L., Robles, T. F., & Glaser, R. (2002). Psychoneuroimmunology and psychosomatic medicine: back to the future. Psychosomatic Medicine, 64(1), 15-28.

– Arck, P. C., & Slominski, A. (2009). The skinhypothalamuspituitaryadrenal axis. Archives of Dermatological Research, 301(7), 165-181.


What are stress breakouts?

Stress breakouts, also known as stress-induced acne or stress pimples, refer to acne flare-ups that are triggered or worsened by stress. When we experience stress, our body releases hormones like cortisol, which can lead to the production of excess oil in the skin. This excess oil, combined with dead skin cells and bacteria, can clog the pores, resulting in the formation of pimples.

How can I manage stress breakouts?

Managing stress breakouts involves a combination of stress reduction techniques and maintaining a proper skincare routine. Prioritize stress management by engaging in activities such as exercise, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Establish a consistent skincare routine that includes cleansing with a gentle cleanser, using products with ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, and avoiding touching your face or picking at the pimples. Eating a balanced diet, getting sufficient sleep, and seeking professional help if needed are also important in managing stress breakouts.

Can stress breakouts be prevented?

While it may not be possible to completely prevent stress breakouts, there are steps you can take to minimize their occurrence. Prioritizing stress management, maintaining a healthy skincare routine, avoiding touching your face, eating a balanced diet, and getting enough sleep can all contribute to reducing the frequency and severity of stress breakouts. It is important to remember that everyones skin is unique, and if stress breakouts persist despite your best efforts, seeking professional help from a dermatologist is recommended.

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