Can Stress Cause Acne? The Truth Unveiled!

Stress is said to be the root of many diseases. We all face stress in our daily routine, and it can affect our mental as well as physical health. However, many people claim that stress can cause acne. The association between stress and acne has been a highly debated topic among medical professionals, scientists, and dermatologists.

Acne is a common skin condition characterized by pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and cysts. When oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria clog the hair follicles, acne develops. However, stress has never been associated as a direct cause of skin conditions, including acne. But, still, some research and studies indicate that stress might play a role in the development of acne.

The Role of Hormones

Hormones play a vital role in acne development. Hormones such as cortisol and androgens are said to increase when we are under stress. These hormones stimulate the sebaceous glands, which produce oil or sebum, leading to increased acne formation.

When our bodies are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released, commonly known as the stress hormone. Cortisol stimulates the production of androgens, which in turn stimulates the production of sebum or oil. Excess sebum production can clog pores, leading to pimples, blackheads, and other types of acne.

Can Stress Cause Hormonal Imbalance?

Stress can lead to hormonal imbalance in our bodies. The cortisol hormone that our body releases during stressful situations can cause an imbalance in our hormonal levels. Hormonal imbalances can cause acne and other skin conditions.

Cortisol can also lead to increased insulin levels, which can cause inflammation and glucose intolerance. This further leads to a higher chance of acne development.

Relation Between Stress and Inflammation

Stress can trigger inflammation in our body, which can worsen existing acne. Inflammation occurs when the immune system tries to fight off infection. Stress can weaken the immune system, causing the body to have an overactive immune response to everything, including acne-causing bacteria.

Increased inflammation can lead to the development of papules, pustules, and cysts. Moreover, stress can slow down the healing process, causing acne to last longer than usual.

Does Reducing Stress Help Acne?

Reducing stress can significantly help with acne. If stress is the cause or increasing the severity of acne, reducing stress can help reduce the frequency and severity of acne breakouts.

Stress-reducing activities such as yoga, exercise, and meditation can help reduce stress and acne. Moreover, eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, and getting proper sleep can also help in reducing stress and acne.

Other Factors Contributing to Acne

Acne can be caused by various factors, including genetics, diet, and hormones. Stress can contribute to acne, but it is not the only factor. Other factors that can cause acne include:

  • Diet
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Genetics
  • Side effects from medicines

Can Acne Get Worse With Stress?

Yes, acne can get worse with stress. Stress can increase oil production and cause inflammation, which can worsen existing acne. Moreover, the amount of time taken for acne to heal can increase with stress.

Final Thoughts

Even though there is no direct relation between stress and acne, reducing stress levels can lead to a decrease in acne breakouts. It is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, proper sleep, and regular exercise to reduce stress and take care of your skin.


Here are some frequently asked questions related to ‘Can Stress Cause Acne.’

Can stress cause acne breakouts?

Stress can contribute to acne development or exacerbate existing acne due to its effect on hormones, oil production, and inflammation levels in the body.

What are some stress-reducing activities that can help in reducing acne?

Yoga, exercise, meditation, and deep breathing are some stress-reducing activities that can help in reducing acne breakouts.

Can genetics contribute to the development of acne?

Yes, genetics can play a role in acne development. Individuals with a family history of acne are more likely to develop acne themselves.

Can a poor diet lead to acne development?

Yes, a poor diet can contribute to acne development. Consuming excessive amounts of sugar, dairy products, and processed foods can increase the chances of acne formation.

Can hormonal imbalances cause acne?

Yes, hormonal imbalances can cause acne development. Hormones such as androgens stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more oil, leading to acne formation.


  • Ahmad HM, Arya SC, Nand N. The Impact of Stress and its Effect on Acne. Indian J Dermatol. 2018;63(4):309-313. doi:10.4103/ijd.IJD_244_17
  • Chen Y, Lyga J. Brain-skin connection: stress, inflammation and skin aging. Inflamm Allergy Drug Targets. 2014;13(3):177-190. doi:10.2174/18715281113129990040
  • Papadopoulos L, Bor R. Skin diseases exacerbated by psychological stress: identification and management. Rev Environ Health. 2010;25(2):173-195. doi:10.1515/reveh.2010.025

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