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Stress and Acne

Stress isn’t listed as one of the possible causes of acne however stress does cause the body to produce larger quantities of the hormone cortisol, which in turn causes the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. P Acnes, the bacteria known to be a factor in acne, feeds on the oil and then produces a by-product subtance that irritates the follicle (most commonly referred to as “pore”) coupled with a clogged pore eventually results in acne.

Noted psychiatrist and dermatologist John Koo, MD discusses the relationship between stress and acne in his article “Psychodermatology: The Mind and Skin Connection” published in the American Family Physician, (Dec 1, 2001) – [Ed. Note: Emphasis Added in Bold]

Psychophysiologic Disorders

Psychophysiologic disorders are conditions that are frequently precipitated or exacerbated by emotional stress. Each of these conditions has “stress responders” and “non-stress responders,” depending on whether a patient’s skin disease is or is not frequently and predictably exacerbated by stress.


In patients with treatment-responsive skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne, the issue of stress may not be important.(4) However, when physicians are faced with disease recalcitrant to treatment, patients should be asked whether psychologic, social or occupational stress might be contributing to the skin disorder.
Emotional stress may exacerbate many chronic dermatoses and can initiate a vicious cycle referred to as the “itch-scratch cycle”; therefore, treatment of recalcitrant patients with chronic dermatoses may be difficult without addressing stress as an exacerbating factor.(5) Patients often are embarrassed about discussing psychologic issues, especially if they feel hurried. Stress management classes, relaxation techniques, music or exercise may benefit these patients.

Submitted by Ms. distressedDERMA on Tuesday, 27 March 2007


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