Stress And Acne
Stress-related acne is an issue still debatable. Whether stress may really cause real acne or not, the health circles have not been certain until some years ago. This however does not negate the fact that the medical field is still divided between believing in it or not. Yet, there are a number of medical studies that may provide evidence that the onset of acne to some people may be caused by stress.
Stress may aggravate acne in two ways: one is stress being able to stimulate the adrenal glands to produce more hormones and the other is by slowing down the process of healing.
The adrenal glands which can be found above the kidneys secrete hormones norepinephrine and epinephrine. Together with the male hormones secreted by the adrenal cortex that are released only under stressful conditions, this condition stimulates the release of excess sebum which further regenerates the acne breakout.
It is also recognized that psychological stress may diminish the healing capacity of the immune system by 40%. This being given only increases the probability that quite a number of acne cases may really be stress-related.
Also, unhealthy diet during stressful conditions may have some effects on the worsening of the acne.
Additionally, stress does not only aggravate acne flare-up, it also may considerably affect the over-all health condition of the skin. It induces the adrenal cortex as well to generate a steroid called cortisol which may trigger the production of sebum; in effect making the skin extra oily. This is the reason why stressed people have pus-filled papules and inflamed acne rather than the plain whiteheads and blackheads.
In 2002, the Stanford University School of Medicine conducted a research on the connection between stress and acne. Although it only involved 22 acne-inflicted students, it was helpful in establishing the fact that stress actually causes the generation of acne on students under stressful condition, in this case examination. The professors involved in the experiment were able to conclude that the exam aggravated the acne of the students under observation. It was further concluded that students who were greatly stressed during the examinations have greater chance for the more severe acne conditions.
Another study on stress and acne done in the year 2003 published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences noted the possibility of that chemicals and acne (and other skin diseases) may be closely related. This study particularly focused on the thalamus, a part of the brain which releases a hormone called corticothropin or CRH during stressful conditions. The skin oil glands are known to generate both CRH and CRH receptors. Consequently, when CRH receptors combine with excess CRH, it will produce more sebum which in turn may result in exacerbation of the acne.
Acne urticata, which is actually not acne but a form of eczema, are known to manifest on middle-aged women who undergo depression and stress. In this case, it is not yet clear whether the stress resulted to acne or the stress the resultant of this type of acne.
Dr. Jerome Litt, a German dermatologist concluded that under stressful situations, the male hormone testosterone and androgens are induced. This belief led him to the generalization that these two hormones may be instrumental to the production of sebum on the skin, in effect increases the susceptibility of the person under this condition to experience the onset of acne.
In accordance to this, he advises acne patients to avoid stress, worry, anxiety and tension as these may trigger the production of acne or worsen the pre-existing condition.
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