Adrenal Acne: Effects Of Stress

Feb 24, 2023 | Skin Care

When we are exposed to stresses in our lives our adrenal glands, the two small glands located on top of the kidneys, release hormones such as adrenaline, norepinephrine, cortisol, aldosterone, testosterone, and androgens. Their secretions have many functions in the body, such as regulating blood pressure, electrolyte balance, and metabolism, as well as regulating the sebaceous glands and hair follicles in the skin.

Our unique body has an incredible auto-mechanism to stimulate these hormones in response to stresses as a means of survival. These hormones prepare the body for the ‘fight or flight’ response. They are essential to make us alert and responsive to facing threat or running from danger. The demands of today’s lifestyle can cause our brains to be continuously in this adrenal state.

Stress is a part of life and can be good if regulated. It can encourage our brains to learn, grow, and motivate us to achieve our life goals. Moderate adrenal stimuli promote immune activity and support nerve and cell growth, which in turn makes us feel good physically and emotionally.

Lack of adrenal stimuli can lead to an array of health issues related to a sedentary lifestyle, a compromised immune system, and a lack of motivation, even depression.

If we expose our body and mind to endless stresses, whether through overwork or being on the go with no down time, the adrenal glands become over active and thus hormone imbalance occurs. These hormones can cause havoc with our health and can lead to a weakened immune system, fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, and inflammation of the skin such as eczema, psoriasis and adrenal acne.

Adrenal Acne
The adrenal hormone imbalance can prompt the sebaceous glands to produce excess sebum (oil), as well as excess skin cells. These two factors combine to create a ‘sticky cell’ substance, which adheres to the inside of the skin’s pores. Bacteria add to the mix. As a result, an immune response is triggered to attack the bacteria, causing swelling, redness, and acne symptoms on the skin surface, visible as a break out, pimple, or spot.

Stress also increases blood flow and expands blood vessels, making the skin prone to inflammation.

Adrenal acne does not usually present itself unless you are already predisposed to it. Sadly, this action can be triggered at any time of life, even if you managed to avoid it during adolescence. If you are prone to acne type symptoms, adrenal stress can exacerbate acne symptoms temporarily whilst the hormones are imbalanced.

Affecting More Women 40+
From my skin care clinical practice there is evidence to support the existence of a steady increase of adrenal acne over the years, especially in women over the age of 40. Modern women’s roles have become increasingly more demanding, juggling family and home commitments with careers, making it very difficult to have any downtime. And if that wasn’t enough, it is also a time when hormonal changes are naturally taking place. Women’s oestrogen levels decline, whilst male hormones such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone may increase, and the increase of adrenal hormones can be catastrophic for the skin.

Typical Adrenal Acne Symptoms
Typically, acne symptoms include spots, pimples, congested pores, blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, milia, and more severe acne such as nodulocystic acne.

From my clinical experience, when I am presented with adrenal acne there appear to be more active symptoms above and below the jawline. However, this does not eliminate acne symptoms in other locations such as face, chest and back.

Adrenal acne may not have excess sebaceous oils on the surface of the skin with a visible shiny appearance. Often the skin can be dry or dehydrated with random spots or nodules present.

When a person is under stress, and as already mentioned the immune system becomes compromised, the healing ability becomes impaired, leading to spots staying for longer and increasing in severity.

Improve Adrenal Acne
For optimum results adrenal acne is best treated holistically, that is treating the person as a whole rather than treating the specific condition in isolation.

Seek a professional skin aesthetician to assess the skin condition as it presents itself. Find out with professional treatments what suits your skin’s needs, use the correct skin care products at home daily, take an overview of your lifestyle and diet.

Aim to reduce life stresses to regulate the hormonal activity, which in turn will regulate and rebalance the skin.

Introduce activities that slow down adrenal activity. There are many stress reducing modalities to suit everyone. Simply apply the one right for you. Do activities you enjoy, so that you look forward to them and are likely to keep them up.

Supportive Tools
Apply supportive tools to cultivate your internal resources in order to combat stress and improve skin health.

Exercise increases levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain, which in turn decreases the body’s elevated hormonal and immune responses to stress, reducing the risk of inflammation and acne symptoms as well as improving mood.

During exercise your heart rate increases, boosting circulation and delivering oxygen and nutrients to nourish cells throughout the body, including facial muscles and skin cells. The improved blood flow increases the lymph flow, which eliminates toxins from the body and skin.

Choose an exercise you enjoy. This will encourage you to stay with it.

Incorporate a diverse regime to ensure you are working on all levels, physically and emotionally. If you are a high impact exercise junky, include low impact exercises to counterbalance the adrenal hormones.

If you can’t face any exercise then why not try brisk walk, cycle, or horse riding to get you moving.

Relax & Rebalance
To take time to relax is just as important as to exercise, especially during very demanding and busy times of life. Relaxation greatly improves your skin health by regulating your digestion and parasympathetic nervous system, and reducing the activity of stress hormones.

What really makes YOU feel relaxed?

A gentle walk in a park surrounded by nature, curled up with a cuppa reading a book, listening to music, being creative, simply a quick nap, or connecting with friends and family.

Yoga, mindfulness, relaxing breathwork and meditation practices connect body and mind to promote relaxation, or soak away stress and muscle tension in a hot mineral salt bath, or indulge in an infusion of essential oils to promote calm & relaxation.

Try a professional treatment such as acne healing facial, acupuncture, massage, or reiki therapy to name but a few. Systemic treatments provide a holistic approach to managing stress and promoting equilibrium for you and your skin.

Be positive. Laugh more. Go easy on yourself.

Treatments Support Skin Health

When the body is undergoing a stress attack, the fight or flight response is activated. The ‘sympathetic nervous system’ is stimulated and physiological changes occur to the breathing so that it becomes short, shallow and rapid. To come out of this state and into the ‘parasympathetic nervous system’ a relaxed, safe state, a simple calming breathing technique is a quick and affective tool which will help instantly.

Prolonged stress promotes an irregular breathing pattern. Take moments during your day to bring your attention to your breath. Allow yourself to take slow, deep breaths, harmoniously and rhythmically, anytime, anywhere!

I’m happy to share my go to quick fix!

Breath through the nose on the inhale and the exhale.

Inhale slowly, deeply and quietly as you say to yourself ‘Be Kind’

Exhale slowly, gently and quietly as you say to yourself ‘Still Your Mind’.

Longer exhalations enhance relaxation, and are therefore calming.

Repeat several times.

Listen to relaxing music or sleep aid meditation before going to bed. Yin or Restorative Yoga are a relaxing yoga modality and excellent sleep enhancers. Apply a few drops of lavender, neroli, or a calming essential oil to the inside of your wrists when you go to bed. Take time out from digital devices. Avoid engaging with your digital devices several hours prior to sleeping. Keep digital devices out of the bedroom when you go to bed. Aim for 8 hours sleep each night.

Dietary Tips – To Support Skin Health

It is imperative to a follow a healthy diet to support skin health.

To learn more, click here to read the Blog
‘Healthy Skin Diet Do’s & Don’ts’

At A Glance Supplements That Promote Skin Health
Our Choice – ‘Viridian’ Supplements
Antioxidant Formula
Clear Skin Complex
Natural Vitamin E
Organic Scandinavian Rainbow Trout Oil
Vegan EPA & DHA Oil
Organic Turmeric
Synerbio Daily High Strength

Viridian Supplements are available at:
Emporium Treatment Clinic.

Visit our SHOP here.

Professional Skin Care Treatments
Find a skin care practitioner with whom you feel at ease, one who will complete a thorough consultation to establish your skin care goals and create a bespoke skin care program specific to suit you.

At Home Skin Care Tips
Cleanse twice am and pm
Apply products containing salicylic acid to break through excess sebum
Maintain the hydration levels
Non-comedogenic skin care products and make-up.
Consistency is key!

To learn more, click on the ‘Skin Care’ Blogs

Skin care products I trust & recommend:
Dermalogica – Mesoestetic – Dr Shrammek Green Peel


Useful Reads
The Clear Skin Cookbook – The Medicinal Chef Dale Pinnock
Fuel Food Cookbook – Oliver McCabe

Skin Care & Body Analysis & Consultation
Available at Emporium Treatment Clinic provided by Angela Taffinder the founder of Emporium Treatment Clinic and practising Aesthetician for 35+ years

Contact Us here

Health & Wellness Analysis & Consultation
Available at Emporium Treatment Clinic provided by highly qualified, experienced Doctors, Nutritionist, Holistic Medicine practitioners and Wellness experts.

Contact Us here