Facial Bumps From Stress and Anxiety

Young woman with finger in mouth, close-up, studio shot
Everyday stress doesn't cause acne. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

There is a common myth that stress and anxiety cause facial bumps. Better known as acne, those bumps on the skin may be related to pimples, nodules or cysts. Certain conditions related to stress can cause acne, but facial bumps and anxiety do not go hand in hand, according to the Nemours Foundation.

Everyday Stress

Stress is a common, and perhaps daily, occurrence. However, the Nemours Foundation says everyday stress doesn't cause facial bumps. Events that stem from extreme stress, on the other hand, can cause anxiety, which makes your body's hormones change. Examples may include a divorce, job change or the loss of a loved one. The Nemours Foundation explains extreme stress can lead to excess sebum, or oil, production from the pores. While excess sebum is often associated with acne and oily skin, this event in of itself does not directly cause new facial bumps.

Role of Medications

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, medications used to treat anxiety and depression may cause acne bumps. These types of drugs cause hormonal changes, which may impact the cycle of your skin and result in excess sebum production. This is why some patients undergoing medical stress management may have the misconception that facial bumps are related to stress.

Daily Skin Care

If undergoing high amounts of stress or anxiety, proper hygiene is your best protection against facial acne. Wash your face twice a day with a gentle cleanser that is either gel or cream based. Harsh exfoliating washes can worsen the appearance of bumps and dry out your skin. Medicated creams and toners can help treat and prevent acne when used as directed. Benzoyl peroxide decreases oil production, while salicylic acid breaks down acne. The Office on Women’s Health recommends seeing a dermatologist if your skin doesn’t get better within two months.

Reducing Anxiety

Severe facial bumps can cause anxiety, especially in teens and young adults where image is often of particular importance. If you get stressed because of acne, your pores can release even more sebum, which can potentially cause more acne. Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating better and getting more sleep, can help reduce stress. See a doctor if you need help managing anxiety.

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