Acne is made worse by mental/emotional stress

Lots of people describe stress as a factor that increases their acne, and recent research to supports this claim. Scientists found that college students with acne were vulnerable to a worsening of their condition during examination periods.

Acne vulgaris is the most common skin disease treated by dermatologists – affecting an estimated 85% of the population at some time in their lives.

Researchers led by Dr Alexa Kimball from Stanford University, studied 22 university students with varying degrees of acne.

The students’ acne was rated for severity during a non-exam period (approximately one month before an examination) and again during an exam period (three days before an exam to seven days after an exam).

The students also filled out questionnaires during the two acne assessments, in which they rated their stress levels.

The researchers found the students had worse acne during exam periods, when they also rated their stress as higher.

The link remained even after other factors such as changes in sleep hours, sleep quality, diet, and number of meals per day were taken into account.

Writing in the journal Archives of Dermatology, the researchers say the finding does not prove that stress directly causes acne.

Various ideas have been proposed for why stress may aggravate acne.

Some investigators believe that stress stimulates the release of hormones known to worsen acne by increasing production of oily substances from sebaceous glands found in the skin.

There is also research suggesting that stress increases production of chemicals which can trigger an inflammation.

In addition, stress is known to slow down the wound healing process by up to 60%.

Research has also found that stress can worsen the symptoms of other skin diseases, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.

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