Ever sprouted a new crop of pimples during exams, a breakup or a frenzied week at work? Research shows that we produce more sebum, which blocks the hair follicles and causes breakouts, when we experience anxiety and unhappiness. What's more, nervous wrecks are more likely to pick at their skin and touch their faces -- activities known to aggravate acne -- than their anxiety-free counterparts [source: Kam]. According to dermatologist Amy Wechsler, who is also board-certified in psychiatry, stress is "the most influential factor" in acne flare-ups. "Any sort of stressful event can lead to inflammation that can lead to acne," she says.
Nobody's immune to stress, so how can you decompress? First, aim to get at least eight hours of sleep a night -- easier said than done during hectic stages of life, but an important goal nonetheless. Regular exercise can also work wonders, helping you stay sane and refreshed while also nourishing your skin cells with extra oxygen [source: Percia]. Just be sure to wash your face before and after your sweat session.
Sometimes, stress-related acne can trigger a vicious circle: you start worrying about your imperfect complexion, so you break out even more. This is especially true for women over the age of 30, says Dr. Wechsler. "They are angry about it, surprised and embarrassed," she explains. Pimples may get under your skin, but don't let them occupy your thoughts. Use that nervous energy to develop a healthy skin care regimen or make an appointment with a dermatologist.