What is acne?
Acne is a common inflammatory condition of the skin that occurs when hair follicles under the skin become clogged by oil and dead skin cells. The hair follicles can also be a location for bacteria or fungus to proliferate. There are multiple different types of acne: whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, nodules and severe nodular acne (cystic acne). An increasing number of adults are struggling with acne and it’s no longer a concern of just adolescence.
There are multiple different triggers of acne and a holistic approach is needed to determine the underlying factor(s). Common underlying factors may include dysfunctional gut health, blood sugar imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, imbalanced hormonal health, stress, topical or environmental irritants, or medications.
Processed foods, sugar, conventional dairy and inflammatory oils are major culprits to acne. Dairy can increase Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1) which can up regulate both oil and androgen production. It’s important to look at all the hidden dairy in foods when considering eliminating it. Other dietary triggers of acne that are not commonly considered include eggs, gluten and peanuts. In addition to diet, gastrointestinal conditions that can cause or worsen acne include low stomach acid, H. Pylori, parasites, fungal overgrowth, bacterial dysbiosis and SIBO.
Multiple different hormonal imbalances can contribute to acne such as estrogen dominance, estrogen deficiency, progesterone deficiency, excess testosterone or DHEA and thyroid dysfunction. To determine if any of theses imbalances are happening, Living Wellness doctors look closely at symptoms and specific hormone labs.
Treating acne consists of addressing both the internal and external environment of the body. Pore clogging ingredients in skin care products and hair care products can prevent acne from healing. You can check your products on EWG Skin Deep to see their health rating along with entering the ingredients of the products you use into the pore clogging ingredient checklist on the Clear Stem Skincare website, https://clearstemskincare.com/pages/pore-clogging-ingredients-list.
An acne healing protocol must include all the foundations of health – nutrition, hydration, movement, sleep and stress management. Nutrients that are essential to skin health include Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. There are also some nutrients in excess that can worsen acne such as Vitamin B12, Biotin, Vitamin D and Zinc. Specific herbs may be recommended if there are excess androgens such as spearmint, saw palmetto, stinging nettle and green tea. Liver support may also be advised through castor oil packs and herbal remedies.
Once active break outs have started to subside, microneedling can be used to reduce acne scars. Check out our blog for more information: https://livingwellnessmedicalcenter.com/living-wellness-medical-center-offers-platelet-rich-plasma-microneedling/.
Acne may take time to heal, but it is possible once the underlying factors are discovered and addressed! For a comprehensive, individualized assessment and treatment plan, schedule with one of our naturopathic doctors by calling 480-588-6856.
To view Dr. Cooper’s recent webinar that dives even deeper into acne, click here.