Anxiety & Acne

It’s the night before you’re in your best friend’s wedding and you notice a pimple rising smack in the middle of your forehead. Talk about timing. You don’t sleep all night because you’re reciting your speech over and over in your head and are anxious to see how your new pimple friend is going to look tomorrow. Will cover up do the trick?

In the above scenario, are you stressed because you have acne or is your stress about the wedding causing your acne? It works both ways. Anxiety and depression are very common mental health conditions in America and can be directly correlated with the condition of your skin. Let’s get into it.

Can anxiety cause acne?

Yes, anxiety can cause acne. Anxiety is identified as a feeling of fear or worry as a reaction to stress. When stressed, your body produces more androgens, a type of hormone that stimulates the skin’s oil glands, which can lead to acne. Stress can also cause you to lose sleep and slip up on your healthy lifestyle. All these factors show up on your skin.

Can depression cause acne?

Just like anxiety can cause acne and be caused by acne, depression acne is an issue as well. Studies have proven that depression can be associated with having acne. The mental health condition has been found to be up to three times more common in people who have acne compared to those who don’t. Women are twice as likely as men to be affected.

The mind-body connection

There’s a discipline of study that combines the mind and skin connection called psychodermatology. Experts find that your skin and mind intersect in a few different ways. Anxiety and depression cause an inflammatory response, weakening your skin’s barrier function (keeping bad bacteria out), and instead, allowing irritants in. Secondly, if you’re depressed, you may neglect your skincare regimen, whereas if you’re anxious you’re more apt to overdo it and pick. Both mental health conditions create an atmosphere where acne can thrive.

Treating acne caused by mental health conditions

When it comes to treating anxiety acne and depression acne, it’s important to take a holistic approach. Besides consistently using an acne fighting regimen and seeking dermalogical treatment, it’s imperative to take time for self-care through therapeutic interventions such as meditation, therapy, and yoga – and when in doubt, consult with your doctor.

Managing acne through self care

Think about it – do you ever really take time for yourself or are you constantly playing caregiver? When was the last time you took a personal day? And what time do you really log off at night (endlessly scrolling isn’t logging off!)? Besides ensuring you carve out time to take care of your mental health, it’s also important to set boundaries around the media you consume and when.

Partaking in talk therapy, setting aside a true 20 minutes to meditate each morning, journaling away your anxieties, and getting in at least 30 minutes of movement per day are all ways to help alleviate anxiety and depression. It’s also important to set boundaries for yourself when it comes to social media. Consider putting your phone down at 8pm and not picking it up again until after you’re ready for your day.

Treating acne with topicals

Treatment for acne really depends on the type of acne you have – whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules, or cysts. Whiteheads and blackheads (also known as comedones) form when a hair follicle becomes clogged with dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. Papules are comedones that become inflamed creating small bumps on your skin, whereas pustules are inflamed and typically filled with yellow pus. Nodules present as bumps that are hard to touch. If you have severe acne, a dermatologist should be consulted.

Try using an over-the-counter treatment that fights bacteria and helps reduce inflammation like products with benzoyl peroxide. Proactiv has three-step-systems that make fighting acne easy. If your skin doesn’t clear up, consult your dermatologist.

The takeaway

Your skin is a canvas that shows what’s going on inside your body from a physical and mental standpoint. It’s imperative to treat acne caused by the stress of anxiety and depression in a holistic manner focusing on your mind and your skin. If at any time you have thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.