Western and Eastern Medicine agree that stress does cause acne. The imbalances that result from stress contribute to stress acne.
Does stress cause acne?
The harried mom struggling to get her kids to half-a-dozen activities in different locations, who experiences acne for the first time in her life, would certainly agree that stress plays a role in acne. So would the teen whose face breaks out in horrible zits the day before her school play.
Practitioners of traditional Eastern medicine have long connected emotional imbalance with acne and Western researchers now have strong evidence that stress plays a major role in triggering the hormones implicated in acne.
The Western Perspective
For decades, the Western perspective focused on acne’s physical causes. Despite the observations of many patients, the idea that stress played a role in acne and other skin disorders was mostly ignored.
Fortunately, Western healers are now increasingly realizing that there is a mind-skin connection and that stress can cause acne.
This new perspective has been coupled with research into the physical aspects of stress. Recent studies have shown that teens experience more acne when under stress than at other times
Your body reacts to stress by releasing stress hormones, including cortisol. Cortisol triggers inflammation in your entire system, including your skin and it also can trigger the production of more skin oil.
Inflammation is a far greater factor in acne than skin oil is. An improper diet, too rich in refined sugars and processed foods, contributes to inflammation and makes it more difficult for your body to cope with stress. Acne is not prevalent in countries where the average diet is low in refined sugars and processed food.
Does Stress Cause Acne? The Eastern Perspective
Traditional Eastern perspectives also see diet as a factor in overall health, but they focus on the whole person, concentrating on emotional imbalances as well as physical ones. According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine, which has been practiced in India for 5,000 years, each person has three basic energies or doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Each person is a unique combination of these doshas and imbalance in the doshas leads to illness.
Stress, relationship problems, diet and environmental factors unbalance the doshas and lead to health problems, including acne. Ayurvedic practitioners treat acne and other health problems by attempting to restore balance to the doshas. Yoga, meditation, dietary changes, and herbal supplements are part of the Ayurvedic treatment of acne.
Traditional Chinese Medicine:
A similar approach is used in traditional Chinese medicine. In Chinese medicine, acne is considered to be caused by disturbances to the body’s meridians by heat or damp heat. These imbalances can be produced by diet, overwork, and stress.
In addition, stress and emotional upsets cause stagnation of the the basic energy of the body or qi. Acne is treated with herbal medicines and acupuncture to produce release of the qi and a return of the body’s natural balance.
Health = Balance
In the eastern perspective, health is balance in the whole person. Stress, poor diet, emotional upset, unhealthy environments, and overwork all upset our internal balance, and acne is just one symptom of that upset.
If you suffer from stress acne, you are not alone. Stress acne is one of the most common skin disorders; it is more common in women, than in men. Even people in their sixties can suffer from acne when they are under stress. Fortunately, alternative treatments offer hope that stress acne can be controlled and possibly cleared.