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Can stress cause acne and skin breakouts?

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Over the past 10 years there have been significant breakthroughs in the understanding of acne and skin breakouts. While much is still not known, research now proves a link between acne and stress.

When we are stressed our bodies release a stress hormone called CRH (corticotrophin-releasing hormone) which binds to the receptor cells in the sebaceous glands (in the skin). These sebaceous glands are also home to inflammatory cells. When this happens both oil production and inflammation are increased in and around the skin cells.

Not only that...

"When people are stressed there's an increase in nerve signalling that causes itch [causing] people to scratch or pick at their skin" says Dr Adam Friedman, Associate Professor of Dermatology at George Washington University. This then creates even more redness, irritation and the possibility of bacterial invasion.

Stress also tends to reduces the quality of sleep, and encourage less-than-healthy food choices, reducing our body's ability to fight off inflammation.

Scientists have now found that chronic (long term) stress can also increase the duration and severity of acne by affecting the immune system, and slowing down the healing process. 

"Stress and anxiety can lead to what's known as leaky gut as well as imbalances in the microbes in the gut. This in turn leads to inflammation that contributes to skin inflammation. One such example of this is acne" says Emeran Mayer, The Mind-Gut Connection).

If you have problem skin, or acne, consider incorporating relaxation or mindfulness activities in your day as an extra tool in fighting off problem skin.

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