Here’s How To Stop Stress Acne In Its Tracks

There’s no cutting stress out of your life completely. One look at your work email inbox or family group chat notifications can make you feel like you’re spiraling and want to hide from the real world. Even though you might actively try to avoid the typical every day stressors, doing that is sometimes easier said than done. When one thing piles on top of another, any thoughts of destressing or taking a breather flies right out of the window. Throw in the inevitable acne breakout that comes out of nowhere, and the taxing day couldn’t end any sooner. Basically, if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and stress on any day that ends with -Y, welcome to the club.

Getting stress acne is completely normal, but that doesn’t make it any prettier when those annoying pimples stand out like a beacon and stress us out some more. But as frustrating as stress acne is, it’s 100 percent possible to prevent and manage those breakouts.

The best way to treat your stress acne depends on if it's surface level or deeper

Before you can get rid of your stress acne, knowing what causes it in the first place is helpful. When you’re stressed out, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and releases hormones like cortisol in an attempt to combat the stress. So stress doesn’t technically cause acne, it just makes your skin more prone to breakouts because of your rising hormone levels (via Greatist). This then kicks off a chain reaction that makes your glands produce more oil and makes your skin inflamed.

So how do you put a stop to stress acne? Depending on how deep your stress acne is or how long it lasts, there are different avenues you can take for treatment. Dr. Michele Green, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, explained to Byrdie the best strategies for dealing with stress acne. For typical breakouts, Dr. Green suggested “a topical spot treatment, something like salicylic acid which can be found over-the-counter.” But if your pimples turn out to be cysts, she recommended pressing a cold or warm compress to the area to reduce redness and pain. “If you work with your skin, the results will be there one step at a time,” Dr. Green said, but added, “If stress acne seems to happen often, then try switching your skincare routine. Find products that work with your skin, not against it.”

Above all, managing your stress is the most important ingredient.

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