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The best way to rid yourself of stress acne, like any acne, is to prevent it in the first place. Once acne is present, it's much harder to dry up and get rid of individual pimples and cysts. The prescription for preventing stress acne is rooted in avoiding stress altogether, but sometimes acne pops up in spite of good intentions. Treat breakouts with a combination of skin-care products and prescribed pharmaceutics.

Get a sufficient amount of sleep each day. Lack of sleep promotes an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, which eventually leads to acne. Get more sleep to keep your body's stress levels down, and your skin will reflect and appreciate it.

Eliminate sugar from your diet. Sugars lead to an inflammatory cycle in the body that can lead to breakouts. Reducing sugars reduces your body's metabolic stress and can help keep your skin clearer.

Avoid aggravating your skin. If all else fails and you find yourself with stress acne, do not pick at pimples. Do not over wash or aggressively exfoliate. All of these habits will make a bad situation worse by increasing skin irritation and inflammation.

Use a gentle moisturizer to help protect and calm the skin and apply over-the-counter acne products according to the manufacturer’s instructions. These work by combining antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties while helping to mildly exfoliate the skin.

Visit your dermatologist, who can give you temporary prescription topical or oral medications that can help combat the stress breakout. Acne treatments widely vary and should be prescribed by your physician according to your specific type of skin and acne.


Sometimes stress acne is very stubborn and may require oral treatment. This can include antibiotics, hormonal treatments like birth control pills or spironolactone or oral retinoids like isotretinoin (formerly known as Accutane®).


Both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can burn the skin if overused.

Benzoyl peroxide can bleach clothing, pillowcases and towels.