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Adult Acne Related to Stress

Adult Acne Related to Stress


Acne causes stress for many teenagers who believe their chances for a date will be ruined or fear being a laughing stock because of a giant pimple. Most hope the problem will disappear in adulthood, but "Health Corner," a wellness show, warns that 54 percent of adult women and 40 percent of adult men still struggle with acne. The stresses of adulthood may worsen their condition.


The Mayo Clinic defines acne as a skin condition that develops when oil glands produce too much sebum. This substance mixes with dead skin cells and bacteria and blocks hair follicles. The area reddens and swells into a pimple. Acne can involve small lesions, which often fill with pus, or deep cysts, depending on its severity.

Relationship explains that both physical and emotional stress are related to adult acne outbreaks. Physical stressors include getting too little sleep, smoking and lack or exercise. Emotional stress is triggered by feeling overwhelmed. This can inflame the skin and make pore walls more likely to break down. The area fills with pus and ripens into a pimple. Stress hormones also worsen acne. They hurt immunity, allowing bacteria to flourish.

Time Frame

Researchers from the University of Alabama in Birmingham School of Medicine found adult acne is most prevalent for adults in their 20s. It affects 50.9 percent of women and 42.5 percent of men in that age group. The numbers drop to 35.2 percent of women and 20.1 of men in their 30s. Acne affects 26.3 percent of women and 12 percent of men in their 40s. The numbers drop to 15.3 percent of women and 7.3 percent of men in their 50s. Dr. C. Harper, an associate professor of dermatology at the university, speculates that women are affected more frequently because of hormone fluctuations linked to menstruation. Stress may also play a role, as the Healthy Women wellness site states that anxiety disorders strike adult women twice as often as men.

Treatment recommends fighting stress with frequent physical activity, deep breathing exercises, meditation and getting enough sleep. This should be combined with over-the-counter acne remedies containing the active ingredients benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Adult women who do not wish to become pregnant may also get acne relief with prescription birth control pills.


Adult acne can be caused by stress, and pimples often elevate stress levels. Adults with acne may have less self-confidence because of their appearance. This feeds into the overall problem and makes it harder to get rid of the lesions. You may need counseling by a professional if your acne is stressing you badly and affecting your overall quality of life. Your acne should improve when your emotional state settles down.

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