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How to Manage Your Stress-Induced Acne

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Stress acne. Two little words with big impact.

Stress-induced acne is an unwelcome side effect of, well, stress. While acne can be caused by various triggers, stress is a major one. Our bodies can sense when we’re feeling anxious and worried, and the response is often a breakout.

Regardless of how cautious you are or which preventative measures you take to avoid getting acne, stress acne is its own beast. And — to top it off — stress acne always makes its glorious appearance at the worst possible times.

You may have noticed more stress-induced acne over the past year for various reasons, not least the Covid-19 pandemic. (Thanks, 2020.) The ironic thing about stress acne is its cyclical nature. The first signs of acne can trigger stress, which then causes more acne, therefore triggering more stress and so on. So frustrating, right?

While there is no one secret or magic trick to break this cycle, don’t fret. We’re here to help!

Read on for tips to treat stress acne, identify its root causes, and — ideally — prevent it from happening in the first place. 

1. Say Goodbye to Acne With Proper Treatment

When you have acne, the first thing you want to know is how to get rid of it. Preferably, you want to know how to get rid of it fast. Look no further, as we’re about to dive into acne treatment.

The acne market has exploded due to demand in recent years. By 2027, the global acne medication market size is expected to reach over $13 billion. Now, that’s a lot of money going toward pimple products! 

This is great as far as options are concerned, but we all know that more options can lead to more confusion. With more treatments on the market, knowing how to pick one that will work for you can be tricky. 

In general, acne treatment can be broken down into two main buckets: over-the-counter skin care products and prescription medication, which includes both topical applications and oral prescriptions.

Many topical products will include either salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. These key ingredients can help get rid of old skin cells, which can lead to clogged pores and thus more breakouts. The main difference between salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide is what type of acne they can best treat. Typically speaking, salicylic acid is intended for whiteheads and blackheads. Benzoyl peroxide works on pus-filled pimples.

Oral acne medications are a step above topical applications, and some people may need to use both to solve their stress acne problem.

Not sure where to turn for help? A dermatologist can help get you on a treatment plan that works for your skin and your lifestyle. Remember to jot down what you’re currently doing for skin care and what you want to discuss with the dermatologist during your appointment.

Another option is getting specialized, personalized care from an online healthcare service such as Nurx. The beauty of an online service is not having to comb through the numerous options at the drugstore by yourself. And if you need a prescription, such online services can help get it filled and sent directly to your door. Now that’s convenient! 

2. Identify the Root Causes

Knowing what’s causing you stress can help lessen your stress-induced acne. Most times, stress acne is a flareup among other hormonal acne. The skin may appear greasier or have a persistent shine to it. Stress can also exacerbate the amount of acne you experience. So the handful of facial pimples you typically deal with may double or triple due to stress.

Stress acne is typically found on the nose, chin, and forehead areas. These areas tend to have more oil glands — hence the greasy look and feel.

Identifying the root cause can be helpful for your acne and your overall mental health. Being in a stress-induced “flight or fight mode” can wreak havoc on the skin. You may unknowingly touch your face more often for soothing or comfort. Or you may be so stressed that your regular routines, including consistent skincare, go out the window. You may also turn to eating more processed, unhealthy foods and forgo exercise — both of which may trigger breakouts.

If your job is stressing you out, look at all your tasks and work with your boss to prioritize them. If you constantly find yourself under tight deadlines, see whether you can implement better time management strategies so you don’t feel as overwhelmed. If you’re stressed every time you watch the news or see something on your social feeds, edit your media consumption. Remember, only you are in control of your triggers and your response to them. 

3. Prevent Stress Acne From the Start

OK, so now that we’ve covered acne treatment and identifying root causes, it’s time to dive into stress acne prevention. 

To get clear skin, you need to start with a clear mind. There are numerous ways to relieve stress, and we all seek relaxation in different ways. For some, a 60-minute yoga class is the answer, while others find some solitary reading time can do the trick. Still others find meditation apps like Calm or Headspace their favored de-stressing solution.

Gaining a sense of control over your stress is important to rid yourself of physical and mental strain. Incorporating a few daily rituals or practices can be helpful in reducing stress and thus decreasing the likelihood of a breakout.

Here are some easy, practical tips for reducing stress:

  • Eat wholesome, healthful, nourishing foods.
  • Maintain a consistent exercise routine.
  • Do something joyful each day.
  • Reach out and talk to a close friend or family member.
  • Prioritize yourself and your mental health needs.

Stress is something we all deal with, but resources and professional services are available during times of uncontrollable stress and anxiety.

The Bottom Line

Stress will always be there, and so will the prospect of stress acne. But the good news is that the right treatment and preventive measures can help manage it. So don’t stress over it. Start relaxing, and your stress-induced acne will soon get the memo to leave the premises.

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