I’ve been reading acne related articles and studies from around the world, with topics ranging from genetics to Accutane flare risk factors. After reading them all I took a moment to see if there is a common thread linking them together. One thread I seem to keep finding is stress. Keep in mind that I am simply starting a discussion and not trying to draw any sort of scientific conclusion. Please present your own evidence as well.
1. A Canadian study I read found that living in urban areas was related to Accutane relapse. I know from personal experience that living in an urban area comes with added stressors. While I personally prefer the urban lifestyle, driving is more difficult, sirens wail, and crowds are common. You must stay more on guard to stay safe, even if that means staying more aware while crossing busy streets.
2. A Norwegian study showed a possible link between poor diet and acne in adolescents. While the conclusion was “too early to give evidence-based diet advice” it nonetheless once again shed light on the diet/acne connection. Researchers do not have a consensus about which type of diet is best or worst for acne sufferers, but if poor diet is related to acne, stress would be a factor here as well. A poor diet physically stresses the body. High glycemic (sugary) diets also cause mood swings and can affect mental stress levels.
3. An International Journal of Dermatology article focused on the impact of DHEA-S, an androgen (male sex hormone), on female adult-onset acne. Leutenizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), total testosterone, sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and DHEA-S were all evaluated. DHEA-S was the only androgen that was significantly higher in women with acne. DHEA-S is produced in the adrenal gland, the same gland that is activated during times of stress.
So what if stress was more intricately related to acne than we previously theorized? Anything that helps mitigate stress would then help with acne symptoms. Eating a low glycemic diet, getting plenty of rest, exercising, and breathing or meditating, would be potentially beneficial options.