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With Stress on the Rise, So is Acne

By Carissa Andrews  •   November 23, 2020

Photo Credit: by Alena Chendler, flickr.com
Photo Credit: by Alena Chendler, flickr.com

For most of us, 2020 has pretty much been synonymous with “stress.” Between the fear of getting the novel coronavirus, and the combination of working from home or distance learning, we’re lucky to be holding it together at all. Many of us are finding ourselves picking up unhealthy habits, some of which can be worse than others.

While stress itself doesn’t cause acne, the unhealthy habits we can pick up as coping mechanisms can lead to breakouts. In addition, research has found that when you’re already prone to acne, or are trying to deal with it actively, high stress can make it worse. On top of it, when stress is high and our emotional well-being has taken a hit, thanks to acne, it’s not surprising that depression levels can spike.

If there’s one thing this year has taught us, it’s that we need to protect our mental health whenever we can. Small wins, like stress reduction can have a knock-on effect that not only helps with our overall mental health but can give us the added boost of better skin, too.

Managing Stress

Look, there’s probably never been as stressful of a time in most of our lives. With the exception of some of the events in our grandparent’s lives, things have been relatively calm in the United States and Canada. However, with the rise of COVID-19 and the various lockdowns, stress levels have definitely shot up.

When you combine this data with the fact that 91% of acne and rosacea sufferers believe stress causes their acne to flare up, then finding ways to combat it becomes an ideal way to treat a number of issues at once. If you’re dealing with acne that’s flared up due to stress, some ways you can reduce your stress levels include:

1. Take a beat – Pause a couple of times throughout your day to disengage from your stressors. Whether they be work or school-related, walk away and spend a few moments on something you enjoy.

2. Breathe. The simple act of focusing on our breath has a powerful stress reduction effect. When you intentionally breathe, for example, by breathing in slowly for four seconds, holding for seven, then exhaling slow for a count of eight, it sends signals to your brain to relax. Give it a try.

3. Meditate. The power of meditation with mindfulness has been exploding in recent years. Many studies have been done, linking meditation to stress reduction. Start with five minutes a day and work up to twenty minutes or a half hour for the best effects.

4. Workout. Working out reduces cortisol levels, helps you maintain a healthier body weight, and releases endorphins. There really isn’t much in the way of a downside to it. So, if you’re stressed, find a way to get up and move your body.

5. Get outside. Nature is a huge stress reliever for most of us. It can put things in perspective and help us reconnect to the world outside of computer screens and closed doors. When much of our social interaction is limited to Zoom calls, this one might just be the stress relieving outlet you need.

6. Sleep well. Make sure you’re putting a priority on your sleep. When we don’t get enough, no other stress reliever is going to help. Your brain simply can function optimally without the proper amount of rest.

7. Protect your gut. Your diet plays a huge role in how you feel. In addition, some foods can be triggers for acne flareups. Knowing which ones they are for you is key. Consider adding both prebiotics and probiotics to your diet, as well as more fiber, then watch how your stress levels are. Also keep tabs on your acne and see if the changes help improve your skin.

8. Talk it out. When it all comes down to it, if you’re dealing with a lot of stress, it might help to talk with someone who can sympathize. Whether that be a friend, family member or a doctor, turn to someone you can trust.

Treating Acne

Reducing stress isn’t the only way to treat acne. Combating it by trying out a combination of tactics can be pretty powerful. Some of the additional ways you can treat acne, whether you’re stressed or not, include the following:

Wash gently with soap and water

Most acne sufferers have oily skin, which is what causes some of the blockages in the first place. Washing gently with soap and warm water can have a very beneficial effect at cleansing the skin. Be sure not to irritate the skin with harsh soaps or by scrubbing to hard.

OTC treatments

There are plenty of over the counter (OTC) treatments you could try before you go on to more drastic measures.

Tea tree oil - You can get this product at most health stores or online. Tea tree oil is an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Be sure you’re purchasing a product designed for skin and not raw tea tree oil, however, as raw oil can have the opposite effect.

Zinc – Many topical over the counter acne treatments contain zinc. Just like tea tree oil, it’s an anti-inflammatory. It works to reduce the redness and swelling, as well as reduce overall oil production.

Retinols – Derived from vitamin A, retinols can be spotted in the ingredients list by retinaldehyde or retinyl palmitate. You’ll find these in topical treatments (creams or gels). Retinols promote skin growth, but also break down dead skin cells and other debris that gets trapped in the skin follicle. Another benefit of retinols is the keratin regulation, and the ability to regulate skin tone.

Alpha-hydroxy acids – These are chemical exfoliators, and they work by penetrating the skin and breaking up any blockages in the skin.

Vitamin A – While not as effective as retinols, vitamin A encourages new skin cell growth and breaks down acne causing blockages.

Vitamin B3 – Also known as Niacinamide, you will likely find this in many OTC oral and topical acne treatments. It’s an anti-inflammatory, but it also regulates skin tone and helps to reduce or fade red, brown, or even purple marks acne can leave on the skin.

Prescription treatments

Look, at the end of the day, your acne doesn’t need to be super severe in order to get prescription treatment. If it’s painful, inflamed, or simply bothering you, set up an appointment to visit with a dermatologist. These days, they’ll likely set up a quick 15-minute Zoom meeting and get you one your way with medication that can help. One of the medications they will likely prescribe is:

Lymecycline (Tetralysal) – This acne treatment is one of the safest prescription topical antibiotics on the market. It’s very effective and has few side effects to contend with.

While there isn’t much we can do to change the outside circumstances this year has put upon us, we can take steps to reduce our overall stress. This will help us cope with life in general, but it will also do wonders for our well-being – and our skin, too. If you’re seeking a prescription strength, like Lymecycline, or an over the counter medication for your acne, be sure to visit reach out to us at Canadian Pharmacy King by calling 1-877-745-9217. We’re here to help in any way we can.



The purpose of the above content is to raise awareness only and does not advocate treatment or diagnosis. This information should not be substituted for your physician's consultation and it should not indicate that use of the drug is safe and suitable for you or your (pet). Seek professional medical advice and treatment if you have any questions or concerns.