Top Tips to Heal Acne. Just when you thought you got through your teenage years without too many breakouts, along comes adult onset acne. Adult onset acne can be a massive blow to your self confidence, especially at time when you are venturing out into new experiences and opportunities where you want to present your best self.
The cure for adult acne has a few common elements, but it is also dependent on the cause of the acne breakout. Working with your naturopath you can get to the root cause and create a plan that is tailor made to your situation.
Some of the causes of adult onset acne is coming off oral contraceptives, stress, digestive disturbances and a poor diet. These are all common issues seen in women in their twenties and usually all of these issues are occurring at the same time.
Whilst this blog post is about adult acne, these principles are also beneficial for teenage acne.
Here are some of my favorite tips for healing adult acne –
1. GIVE UP DAIRY
Lactose intolerant or not, dairy foods are clinically proven to contribute to the onset and severity of acne. Cow’s produce a hormone into milk that is a target for our sebum (oil) glands in the skin. This means, whenever you eat dairy foods, your skin is sent a message to increase oil production.
This can worsen acne in those already suffering and it can create the perfect environment for bacteria to multiply.
The A1 protein found in milk is very inflammatory to our bodies, and coupled with the hormonal influence of milk, this creates the perfect storm for acne production. Milk made from Jersey cow’s contains the A2 protein, which is less inflammatory, however I strongly advise acne sufferers to avoid dairy products all together.
TIP – Go 100% dairy free for one month and see how your skin improves.
2. DITCH THE SUGAR
Acne is often referred to as ‘diabetes of the skin’. This is because blood sugar imbalances caused by a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates stimulate high levels of insulin, IGF-1 hormone and the enzyme mTOR. All of this stimulate keratin production, inflammation and oil production.
A diet high in sugar also robs your body of vital nutrients required for skin health. Sugar also dampens your immune response, which can reduce your ability to fight off the bacteria associated with acne.
TIP – go sugar free for 3 months and see how you feel. This includes artificial sweeteners, honey, agave, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate etc. Small amounts of stevia and xylitol are okay.
3. HEAL YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
I recommend some degree of digestive healing program for all my skin issue patients. Poor digestive function is one of the root causes of all types of skin conditions, including acne. The gut-brain-skin axis explains the link between our digestive and mental health with our skin health. Our microbiome influences inflammation, blood sugar regulation, oxidative damage and mood.
When our digestive system is not optimal our ability to metabolize and absorb nutrients will be reduced. There are several nutrient deficiencies that are linked with acne such as zinc, essential fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin D.
When all of these are out of balance it will reflect in the health of your skin.
4. IMPROVE YOUR DETOX CAPACITY
A properly functioning liver is essential to detoxify the body of its wastes and to manage hormone levels. A hormonal imbalance can be a major driver of acne, so you want to ensure that your liver is effectively removing excess hormones to prevent them from be recirculated.
With a healthy liver function, you want to ensure that you are having regular bowel movements. All the toxic by-products that the liver collects then needs to be removed from the body via the bowel.
Herbal medicine can be very effective in supporting the liver and regulating bowel function.
5. MANAGE STRESS
As mentioned above, the gut-brain-skin axis is an influencer on the development of acne. Stress, anxiety and depression can indicate that the body is inflamed, as well as exacerbating inflammation. This inflammation damages the microbiome and will cause weakness throughout the body.
When the body is stressed, high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in produced. This can lead to blood sugar imbalances which is directly related to acne. Substance P is produced by chronically stressed people, and this plays a role in an increase in oil production on the skin.
Again, when these imbalance occur internally, they are often expressed externally through the skin.
Practice stress management techniques, unwind, unplug and play in nature.
6. MANAGE YOUR HORMONES
If you still have acne after following the above tips for at least 3 months, then further investigation into hormonal imbalances is warranted. Hormones can play a major role int he development of acne, but a large percentage of patients will resolve most of their hormonal imbalances by improving their diet, stress, digestion and detox capabilities. Speak with your naturopath to arrange functional pathology testing to examine your hormonal profile. I recommend the DUTCH hormone profile test for my patients.
7. TOPICAL SKIN CARE
Using a simple and natural skin care routine can be very beneficial in calming down your acne and improving the skins healing ability. A natural face mask made from a high strength Manuka honey will give antibacterial, anti inflammatory and skin healing properties. You can apply a think layer over the face 2-3 times per week. Rinse off with warm water and apply a natural face lotion.
Spot treating with tea tree oil can also be very beneficial in fighting bacteria and inflammation.
A gentle facial peel with natural acids can improve the appearance of acne. Look for products with glycolic acids to gently exfoliate the skin. Avoid products that have rough grain-like exfoliants as these may scratch your inflamed skin, creating the potential for bacteria to spread and increasing your acne.
8. TAKE YOUR SUPPLEMENTS
I always encourage my clients to try and get all the nutrition that they needs from their diet, however there are times when extra supplementation does help. The following supplements can be beneficial, but always speak to your naturopath to determine the form and dose that is best for you –
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
So are you ready to take control of your skin? Lets have a chat and have a treatment protocol formulated that is specific to you and your health.