Stress is the one thing that almost all people would experience. It has become one of the most common problems that affects people in the modern world. While most people respond to stress differently, some factors are common to people. When we’re stressed, our body undergoes processes in which hormones like cortisol and adrenaline come into play. When these stress hormones become imbalanced, they can lead to more frequent and severe acne breakouts. In this post, we will explore stress acne and what you can do to get rid of them.

What is Stress Acne?

We’ll start by understanding what stress acne is. Some research noted that stress doesn’t directly cause acne. However, if you’re prone to developing acne, then stress can make it much worse.

Does Stress Cause Acne?

In short, yes. However, the connection between stress and acne is rather complex. Stress won’t cause acne, but it can get worse if you’re already struggling with it.

However, stress can further contribute to your breakouts[1]. If you’re stressed out, you might your breakouts appear more frequently. Your blemishes might also become large and more visible, potentially increasing oiliness on your face.

How Can Stress Cause Breakouts?

It comes down to the chemical processes that happen when you’re stressed. Once you find yourself in a stressful situation, your adrenal glands begin to release a hormone known as cortisol.

When your adrenal glands are triggered, they release cortisol and adrenaline and give you a surge of energy. However, many people experience prolonged periods of stress, causing the stress hormones to circulate in the body for a long time.

The presence of these hormones in the system can contribute to inflammation and affect sebum production, hair follicles, and more. This essentially contributes to breakouts.

What Does Stress Acne Look Like?

A common question that people might ask is “What does stress acne look like?” You might find it hard to distinguish acne from blemishes caused by stress.

Knowing the appearance of common blemishes that can develop due to stress should help you recognize stress acne.

  • Whiteheads: Whiteheads are common and appear as white bumps on the skin caused by clogged pores and sebum buildup.

  • Blackheads: Blackheads don’t form a point but rather dig into the skin. The area where the blemish develops will have a dark appearance.

  • Papules: A papule causes a part of your skin to rise by not more than 1cm. This is generally linked to some inflammation and can appear in different sizes, colors, and shapes.

  • Pustules or pimples: Pustules can develop on any part of your body. However, they’re most common on the face. They are relatively small and filled with pus.

  • Nodules: Nodules are generally bigger than papules and feel firm to the touch. In some cases, fluids may fill a nodule which are recognized as cysts.


How Do You Know If it’s Stress Acne?

There are a few things you can look out for to tell you whether it’s just regular acne or stress acne.

Many people with stress acne find their skin producing more oil than usual. The excess oil often shows up in the T-zone.

If your breakouts are too persistent, you might want to do a life check. Your recurring skin conditions might be a sign that your stress levels are spiking up. Finding the right way to combat your stress will be a valuable strategy. Managing your stress will address your stress acne.

Where Does Stress Acne Show Up?

The types of blemishes caused by stress acne can show up anywhere on your body. This includes your back, stomach, chest, neck, and even the legs and arms. However, the area of your body commonly affected is your face.

Who is Commonly Affected by Stress Acne?

Anyone can get acne and stress acne can also show up unexpectedly. However, there are a couple of risk factors that might make some people more prone to stress acne.

Whether you get acne breakouts frequently or occasionally, there is a high chance that stress exacerbates your skin condition. People who deal with consistent chronic stress are the ones who are more likely to develop stress pimples.

Apart from these, you might want to keep the following in mind as well:

  • Popping your pimples and touching your face increases your chances of spreading bacteria to your pores. This can, in turn, result in more frequent breakouts.

  • Teens going through puberty have a lot of changes happening in their bodies. This includes changes in hormones, which can make their skin oilier and pores are more likely to become clogged.

Best Ways to Treat Stress Acne

As mentioned above, people suffering from chronic stress are more susceptible to stress pimples. Understanding their prevalence and why they form is a way to counter their unsightly appearance on your face. You can find treatments and remedy options that you can use to eliminate them.

Let’s explore some tips on how you can take care of stress acne. Our focus is not only on treating the symptoms but also the causes behind your breakouts.

1. Drink plenty of water

A lot of people don’t realize that hydration plays a pivotal role in skin health. If you fail to drink enough water daily, then you risk dehydration. You must remember that water ensures proper blood circulation. In turn, blood delivers[2] enough oxygen and nutrients to your skin making it healthy and glowing.

Water isn’t a magical cure for acne, but it can do wonders for your skin’s overall appearance[3]. Dehydration also contributes to stress. It affects the performance of vital organs such as the brain.

2. Avoid touching, picking, or popping your pimple

Picking or popping your pimples and unconsciously touching your skin are bad habits. While it can be very tempting to do these habits, they can make your pimples worse and potentially lead to stress bumps on face.

Touching your face or acne with unsanitized hands can worsen your skin condition. Always sanitize your hands before touching your face to prevent germs from spreading on your skin.

Furthermore, picking or popping blemishes may also cause damage to your skin and may leave visible scarring.

3. Use a gentle cleanser

Using a facial cleanser is an important part of the skincare regimen especially when it comes to treating stress acne. Look for the product that suits your skin type. A cleanser with gentle ingredients is highly recommended.

Dermpura Skin Balancing Cleanser can be a great option to include in your skincare routine. This top-rated cleanser has a gentle foaming action that can remove makeup, dirt, and other debris from your skin without causing dryness and leaving it soft and smooth.

4. Choose moisturizers

A good moisturizer is another important element that should form part of your skincare ritual. However, some moisturizers only work on specific skin types. You have to pick one that’s suitable for your face.

An example of a good moisturizer is the Infusoderm Deep Hydration Daily Moisturizer. This moisturizer is designed with natural extracts to bring you an all-skin types solution that’s gentle with instant refreshing effect. It provides a strong defense against free radicals and keeps your skin youthful and radiantly glowing.

5. Use Serum

While a cleanser and moisturizer can be a great combination to help you treat stress acne, serums can also be beneficial. Remember that acne often leaves scars behind, and when this happens, it can affect the appearance of your skin.

The Zeroblem Blemish Treatment Serum is an excellent addition to your skin treatment. It has high concentrations that heal blemishes without stripping your skin of its natural oils. It helps to unclog your pores, protect against further breakouts, and even fades scarring.

6. Practice stress-reducing activities

Finally, don’t just focus on treating the symptoms of a worsening acne. You have to get down to the root causes. Taking control of your stressors is a good way to start.

Stress-reducing techniques can do wonders for your acne. The hormones released when you’re stressed can worsen your acne and impact the healing process of your blemishes.

Meditation and yoga are both great choices if you want to manage your stress better. Some people also find deep breathing very helpful.



Does stress acne go away?

Yes, stress acne does go away, but your treatment approach has a role to play. Acne remedies can provide a temporary relief of the symptoms, but focusing on your stress factors can change the game.

Is stress acne common?

Even though stress doesn’t directly cause acne, it’s very common for people to experience worsening acne when they are under stress.

Is stress acne itchy?

There are cases where stress acne leads to itchiness. However, any type of acne can feel itchy, especially during healing process.

How long does stress acne last?

No fixed period will account for everyone. How you deal with your stress can affect the frequency of flare-ups as well as the healing process. The longer you dwell with stress, the longer it takes to heal.


Many people may not be aware that stress can worsen acne breakouts. Studies have shown that when you are under pressure and experiencing stress, your skin condition gets affected and causes blemishes like acne and even rashes to appear. Engaging in relaxing activities, developing a healthy lifestyle, and a skincare routine could outweigh the effects of your skin problems. These effective strategies can remedy your stress acne and can help you maintain healthy, glowing skin.



Amna Eltawil

Amna Eltawil

Amna Eltawil is an Egyptian journalist who grew up on the coast of the Mediterranean in Alexandria, Egypt, before moving to Cairo and getting her bachelor's in journalism. From there, she went on to cover new stories and entertainment news for several local and international platforms. Amna enjoys visiting cities on the Mediterranean reminiscent of her childhood city Alexandria, like Barcelona, and she can never have enough of Paris, where she simply likes to walk the streets of the city and enjoy a simple Parisian crepe or have a chill picnic.

Written by Amna Eltawil

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