The study involved 94 adolescents from Singapore. It looked at whether levels of sebum, the oily substance that coats the skin and protects the hair, increase in times of stress and are related to acne severity. Hormone levels, sebum production and bacteria are all known to play major roles in acne.

The study involved secondary school students in Singapore with a mean age of 14.9 years. The students’ self-reported stress levels and acne severity were measured at two different times – just before mid-year exams and during summer break. Students’ long-term career prospects are influenced by the results of the examinations and they are known to induce psychological stress.

Stress levels were measured using the Perceived Stress Scale, a 14-item, self-questionnaire that is widely used in stress research. Acne severity was measured using a system that classifies acne based on type and number of lesions. Ninety-two percent of the girls and 95 percent of the boys reported having acne.

The researchers suspected that stress increases the quantity of sebum, which leads to increased acne severity. However, the results showed that sebum production didn’t differ significantly between the high-stress and low-stress conditions. The researchers did find that students reporting high stress were 23 percent more likely to have increased severity of acne papulopustulosa. Levels of stress were not linked to severity of acne comedonica.

“Our research suggests that acne severity associated with stress may result from factors others than sebum quantity,” said Gil Yosipovitch, M.D., lead author and a professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. “It’s possible that inflammation may be involved.”; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center