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Stress linked to teen acne, but not increased sebum production

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A new study has found that teenagers exposed to high levels of stress are 23% more like to get acne, but that it is not, as had been previously thought, due to an increase in sebum production.

BY News Editor 13 July, 2007

Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Singapore and published in Acta Derm Venereol, a Swedish medical journal, found that levels of sebum, the oily substance that coats the skin and protects the hair, did not increase in times of high stress.

The study involved secondary school students in Singapore with a mean age of 14.9 years. 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.

Acne is an inflammatory disease of the skin caused by changes in the hair follicle and the sebaceous glands of the skin that produce sebum. The oily substance plugs the pores, resulting in whiteheads or blackheads (acne comedonica) and pimples (acne papulopustulosa).

The researchers concluded that acne severity associated with stress may result from factors others than sebum quantity and that it was possible that inflammation may be involved.

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