The Role of Stress in Hormonal Acne

Hormonal acne is a common skin condition affecting many people, characterised by breakouts often linked to hormone fluctuations. Stress is known to exacerbate this condition, making it crucial to understand the relationship between stress and hormonal acne. By managing stress effectively, you can help reduce the severity and frequency of breakouts.


Cortisol is a primary stress hormone that is released in response to stress. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to an increase in sebum production by the sebaceous glands, which can clog pores and contribute to the development of hormonal acne. Chronic stress and consistently high cortisol levels can exacerbate acne flare-ups.


Androgens are male hormones present in both men and women that increase during stress. Elevated androgen levels can stimulate the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, leading to clogged pores and acne. Stress-induced androgen spikes can thus play a significant role in the development and worsening of hormonal acne.

Sebum Production

Sebum is an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands that helps protect and moisturize the skin. However, excessive sebum production, often triggered by stress and hormonal changes, can clog pores and create an environment conducive to acne-causing bacteria, resulting in hormonal acne.


Stress can trigger an inflammatory response in the body, which can worsen acne. Inflammation caused by stress can lead to red, swollen, and painful acne lesions. Managing stress can help reduce inflammation and, in turn, alleviate some symptoms of hormonal acne.

Immune System Suppression

Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, reducing its ability to fight off acne-causing bacteria. A compromised immune system can lead to more frequent and severe acne breakouts. Strengthening the immune system through stress management techniques can help reduce the occurrence of hormonal acne.

Sleep Disruption

Stress often disrupts sleep patterns, leading to poor quality sleep or insomnia. Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels and reduce the skin’s ability to repair and regenerate, exacerbating hormonal acne. Prioritizing good sleep hygiene can help mitigate stress-related acne.

Diet an Stress

Stress can influence dietary habits, leading to the consumption of high-sugar, high-fat, and processed foods that can aggravate hormonal acne. Stress-induced cravings and poor eating habits can disrupt hormonal balance and contribute to acne. Maintaining a balanced diet and managing stress can help control hormonal acne.

Skin Barrier Function

Stress can impair the skin’s barrier function, making it more susceptible to irritation and infection. A compromised skin barrier can lead to increased acne breakouts and difficulty in managing hormonal acne. Strengthening the skin barrier through proper skin care and stress management can help prevent acne.

Gut-Skin Axis

The gut-skin axis refers to the connection between gut health and skin health. Stress can disrupt gut health by altering the balance of gut microbiota, leading to inflammation and hormonal imbalances that can trigger acne. Supporting gut health through a healthy diet and stress reduction can improve hormonal acne.

Hormonal Fluctuations

Stress can cause fluctuations in hormone levels, such as cortisol, androgens, and insulin. These hormonal changes can increase sebum production and inflammation, leading to hormonal acne. Managing stress and stabilizing hormone levels can help control acne breakouts.


Stress plays a significant role in the development and exacerbation of hormonal acne. By understanding the connection between stress and acne, you can take proactive steps to manage stress and improve your skin health.