Why is our skin breaking out during coronavirus lockdown?

We're not wearing make-up so why is our skin so bad during lockdown? (Getty Images)
We're not wearing make-up so why is our skin so bad during lockdown? (Getty Images)

At the moment we have to take our mini life wins where we can and we were totally counting on an improvement in our skin being one of them.

With many of us now WFH during the coronavirus lockdown, we were hoping the foregoing of make-up, lack of commuting on grimy public transport and less pollution (the BBC reports air pollution has started to fall in many UK cities) would bring us clearer, more glowy skin.

But alas a straw poll in the Yahoo UK ‘office’ has revealed the opposite with many of us reporting an increase in break-outs and spots since lockdown measures were introduced.

So, what’s going on?

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According to the skin experts there are numerous reasons why we’re suffering from spotty skin right now, but there are a few main culprits.

“There are so many factors involved in why we could be experiencing skin breakouts right now,” explains Dr Mark Hudson-Peacock, consultant dermatologist at www.stratumclinics.com.

“In the absence of a pre-existing skin condition (as the lockdown may exacerbate these) some possible culprits could be stress, a change in diet, a lack of vitamin D and a change in your normal skincare routines.”

Tick, tick, tick and, er tick.

Thankfully though, there is something we can do about it.

Why our skin is breaking out in lockdown and how to fix it

We’re stressed

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic so it is little wonder the stress levels are a little on the high side, but all that worry and anxiety is having a knock-on effect on our skin.

“It is a known fact that stress and exhaustion lower the immune system and make most skin conditions worse or cause a flare up,” explains consultant dermatologist, Dr Adam Friedmann.

Stress can also make it harder to sleep (no kidding!) and a lack of shut-eye can influence your skin’s ability to heal.

Though the skin itself doesn't suffer too much due to lack of sleep, the muscles around the face tend to be quite tired and can give the skin around the eyes a puffy, sallow appearance

“So, getting plenty of sleep is certainly going to help but sometimes a change in personal circumstances, which everyone is going through right now, can trigger feelings of stress and a flare-up is unavoidable,” Friedmann adds.

The solution could be trying to carve out some time for some self-care.

“The more one looks after oneself, the better the immune system and the less of a problem many of these things will be,” Dr Friedmann explains.

What to do if you are suffering lockdown breakouts. (Getty Images)
What to do if you are suffering lockdown breakouts. (Getty Images)

We’ve changed our diet

Stress may be one of the main culprits but our isolation diet and all the comfort baking coming with it likely isn’t helping either.

“People might not be eating well right now,” explains Dr Friedmann. “Whether this is due to not be able to get out and shop like normal or just a change in daily routine, it can all affect our eating habits, which in turn increases the breakouts.

“It’s important to eat a healthy and balanced diet to maintain all one’s minerals and natural oils,” Dr Friedmann suggests. “Eating lots of vegetables and salads will soak up the free radicals and help the look and feel of the skin.”

Read more: 50 things that make us proud to be British during the coronavirus lockdown

We’re stuck inside

Spending more time indoors means we’re not getting enough of a vitamin D hit.

“Often called the 'sunshine vitamin', vitamin D plays an integral role in skin protection and rejuvenation,” explains Dr Hudson-Peacock.

“It is activated in the skin by Ultraviolet B light and, in its activated form as calcitriol, vitamin D is involved with skin cell growth, repair, and metabolism.

“It also enhances the skin's immune system and helps to destroy those free radicals that can lead to premature sun ageing.”

Cranking up the central heating can also mean our skin loses vitamin D making the skin appear dull and sallow, but regular moisturising can help.

A nutrient rich diet could also help with foods such as fatty fish, cheese, and eggs all being high in vitamin D.

We’re skipping our skincare routine

While we have have the cleanest hands we’ve ever had, it is understandable if our usual cleansing routine has slipped down the to-do list.

But even if you’ve ditched the foundation your face still gathers sweat, sebum and dirt build up throughout the day, so it is important to keep up your skincare routine.

“Your average skincare regime from a dermatology perspective is wash your face twice a day using soap substitutes (to avoid any irritation) and then moisturise rigorously,” says Dr Friedmann.

“If your skin is starting to feel dry and itchy swap your usual soap or shower gel for a mild soap substitute and fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products.

“Gentle face washing with an emollient such as aqueous cream is a good start to a skincare regime. If there is oiliness or acne a gentle cleanser can be applied.”

And if you have had a breakout she recommends treating pimples with topical creams (usually prescribed by the GP or dermatologist) and moisturise with a light moisturiser.

And don’t forget the SPF when you’re going out for your daily exercise.

“I’d also usually recommend a high factor SPF during though in a lockdown scenario that might not be as relevant, but for those going out for a walk when sunny always use protection,” Dr Friedmann adds.

Our skin is suffering during lockdown. (Getty Images)
Our skin is suffering during lockdown. (Getty Images)

Read more: The neighbourhood doing doorstep aerobics during lockdown

You might be drinking more alcohol

Hands up if a daily G&T is helping to ease the pain of lockdown? But, chugging the alcohol can leave skin irritated.

“Excess alcohol consumption can cause blood vessel dilatation which can make the face look quite red,” Dr Friedmann explains. “This is because alcohol dilates the blood vessels and increases the cardiac output so that everything gets redder.

“Acne rosacea is the most famous of the conditions that worsens with alcohol. The combination of repeated alcohol intake, and vascular dilatation, can cause chronic redness.”

The solution to this one is simple, have a day or two off the booze.