Can stress contribute to acne?

Several studies have looked at students and how stress interferes with their acne. It was reported that students who were stressed had a significantly higher prevalence of acne than those with a lower stress score. 

Chronic stress increases the secretion of hormones such as cortisol. This spike can lead to excess sebum production and increased inflammation which have been reported in acne prone skin. 

When stressed, dietary choices tend to change which also impacts skin health. A reduced intake of water (possibly causing constipation and a reduced excretion of toxins), skipped meals (hello blood sugar imbalance) and an increased consumptions of alcohol and sugary snacks can all play a role in the development of acne lesions.

During periods of stress, sleep might be affected as well. A study from 2019 reported a potential relationship between acne and sleep quality. 

It is believed that sleep can disrupt hormone levels, lead to a spike in cortisol production and add additional stress to the body which contributes to acne. 

When we are stressed, stomach acids and certain enzymes needed for digestion will be compromised. These are needed for the digestion and absorption of nutrient and when food is not properly absorbed and digested, vitamins and minerals needed for skin health and hormone health could be depleted. 

In most cases, the actual stressor will need to be addressed although this might not always be possible as it could be linked to work, finances or relationships. 

There are however certain lifestyle changes that can be implemented to try to control the stressful emotions that are experienced.  Practices such as meditation and yoga can help reduce anxiety and improve overall health whilst being great for stress management techniques. Finding enjoyable activities that allow the mind to “switch off“ such as cooking, exercising (avoid any regular HIIT training as this will increase cortisol levels further) or spending time in nature can also be helpful when trying to manage stress. 

If you are interested working together to heal yourself by addressing the root cause of your symptoms, contact me to book in a free 15 minute consultation.

Ellen Sorlen

Founder and Owner of Nourish with Ellen

I’m Ellen, a fully qualified, insured and registered nutritional therapist with over 200 clinical hours. I strongly believe we need to nourish our bodies to flourish as individuals. Balance and moderation are the keys to a happy and healthy life and this is something I value and make sure are applied to the work I do with my clients.

Nutrition is so much more than just the food we eat, it’s about how we eat, our relationship with food but also with ourselves. It’s about lifestyle choices, mindset and purpose.My mission is to find what works for YOU and your individual circumstances. Get in touch to find out how I can help you take control over your health.

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