It's that wonderful time of the year when there's a little more magic in the air, a little more family time — and a lot more stress. The emotional roller coaster of the holidays can wreak havoc on your skin, resulting in stress breakouts.
According to a recent study at Wake Forest University, individuals are about 20% more likely to experience acne breakouts while under stress, a condition that increases cortisol levels and inflammation in the body and causes an excess of oil production.
During the holiday season, everyone is under additional stress due to travel, excessive spending, endless to-do lists and wrapping up work projects before taking time off. While holiday stress is inevitable, there are a few things you can do to help your skin and control stress breakouts.
Get Plenty of Rest
The first step in dealing with stress breakouts during the holidays is to prevent them from occuring. Don't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. Research shows that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, while teenagers need 8-10 hours each night to feel their best.
By consistently getting more rest, you can help reset your stress level or at least manage it more effectively. Though it's often difficult during the holidays to get everything done, try to stick to a reasonable bedtime. Reduce all distractions in your bedroom such as electronics and cover or eliminate extra light from windows, clocks and other devices. If you stick to your usual sleep routine, you'll have an easier time falling asleep and staying that way.
Don't Skip Skincare Basics
When we are busy and stressed, self-care basics and health routines are typically the first to go in favor of crossing off more on those to-do lists or engaging in more fun (and exaustive) activities.
Even under stress, be sure to stick to your daily skincare routine. Wash your face twice daily and use exfoliators and moisturizers regularly. By keeping up your regular skincare routine, the effects of stress breakouts can be mitigated.
If you don't have a regular skincare routine, now is the time to start one! Talk to your dermatologist to find a routine and products that are right for you and your particular skin type.
Pay Attention to Your Diet
A big part of the holiday festivities revolves around food and certain foods tend to trigger or worsen acne. Holiday get-togethers can be a nightmare for your skin and can exacerbate stress breakouts.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the foods we tend to eat over the holidays include ingredients that can cause acne to worsen," says Dr. David Powell of U.S. Dermatology Partners of Houston – Sugar Land. "If you develop a stress breakout, try to avoid high-glycemic foods, which are heavy in sugar or starch. This includes most junk foods like potato chips, cakes, cookies, white bread, sugary drinks and other processed and packaged foods."
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, ice cream and even egg nog can also worsen acne. Instead, try to eat more whole foods such as fresh vegetables, whole grains, beans and fish, and limit your intake of holiday treats and alcohol.
Treat Breakouts Early
For mild or moderate acne breakouts, try over-the-counter products designed to help with acne such as washes and toners with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Be careful when trying new products and treatments. Sometimes, these products aren't the best for treating or controlling more intense breakouts and can dry out your skin and cause further irritation.
If over-the-counter products don't help control your stress breakout, enlist your dermatologist's help. Your doctor can recommend treatments such as antibiotics and other prescription medications to help get your skin back on track. Sometimes it will take a combination of treatments to help your skin fully heal and acne often gets worse before it gets better.
No matter what, keep your hands off! Picking at acne lesions will not only worsen your acne and your stress level, but it can also leave unsightly scars. Leave your acne alone as it heals and let the products and medications do their job.
Remember: it will take time for your skin to heal and to get your stress breakout under control. In some cases, the process can take weeks or even months. This is why it's important to see a dermatologist early on so that you can heal faster and move towards restoring your beautiful, healthy skin.
Are you ready to get your acne under control? Contact a board-certified dermatologist at U.S. Dermatology Partners today to find a treatment plan that is right for you and your skin type.