what is acne?
Acne is a painful, and often frustrating, condition that affects the skin's oil-producing glands. It is characterized by redness, inflammation, lesions, and occasionally scarring.
What causes acne?
There are many causes for acne. Most commonly, this includes food sensitivities, nutrient deficiencies, digestive disturbance, hormonal imbalance and systemic inflammation. As a Naturopathic Doctor, my goal is to find the underlying reason for your acne and treat it for good.
Who gets acne?
Acne is the most common skin condition. While prevalent in teenagers and young adults, adults can also get acne.
For women, hormonal changes are often a trigger - e.g. monthly hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy and menopause. Acne can also be a symptom of other health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and congenital adrenal hyperplasia.
Clear Skin Lifestyle: 10 Steps to Healthy Skin
1. Anti-inflammatory fats (omega 3):
Avocado, olive oil, fish, coconut oil, flax, chia, walnuts and other nuts and seeds. Healthy fats decrease inflammation and create healthy oil production.
2. Fresh fruits and veggies
Produce is high in fibre, which is important for digestion and antioxidants, important for skin health and repair. Specific antioxidants for skin include zinc, selenium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Vitamin E
3. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods contain probiotics, which help to balance the immune system, promote healthy digestion and decrease inflammation. Include more fermented foods in your diet like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, miso, kefir
4. Fresh Herbs
Herbs can be very therapeutic and beneficial for skin health. Garlic has anti-microbial properties, ginger and turmeric are anti-inflammatory and cinnamon helps to balance blood sugar levels which can help decrease pimples. These can be included fresh in your cooking, and can also be taken in supplement form to get higher dosage.
5. Carry around a Water bottle, and drink it!
Drinking enough water is critical to healthy, well hydrated skin. Dehydration can cause increased oil production, predisposing you to acne. Divide your weight in pounds by 2 - that is estimate of the number of ounces of water you should be drinking per day (i.e. 2 liters/ day if 140 lb, or 3 liters/ day if 200 lb).
6.replace coffee with tea
Coffee can be quite dehydrating, and can also have a negative impact on digestion and sleep. Certain teas can be great for skin. Spearmint tea helps to balance hormones and decrease excess testosterone, dandelion tea can help support the liver in processing hormones, green tea contains antioxidants for skin health and repair.
Lack of sleep can lead to the formation of pimples, and impair skin integrity. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep, but remember the hours before midnight are the most restorative.
Sweating daily helps to clear toxins out of the body, and clear the pores on your face, neck and chest. Regular exercise also contributes to a healthy body weight, regular digestion and blood sugar balance - all keys to skin health.
9. Scrap the harsh Cleaners
If you wouldn't eat it, don't put it on your skin. The skin is our largest organ, and using chemical-based cleansers and moisturizers will cause these chemicals to be absorbed systemically. Stay away from parabens, SLS, triclosan, phthalates and fragrance. These chemicals are known to disrupt your hormones, and often lead to dry, flaky skin which causes the skin to produce more oil in turn. Instead opt for natural oils for face wash and moisturizer, and natural acne- friendly zinc based sunscreen.
10. Foods to avoid
Artificial Sugars and Sweeteners: sugars increase inflammation, upset the immune system, cause hormonal imbalance and damage the digestive tract. If you need to use some sweeteners, honey is a better option as it is anti-microbial and supports a healthy immune system.
Cow's Dairy: in addition to be being a common food sensitivity, dairy can also contribute to hormonal imbalance and increased inflammation.
Food Sensitivities: This can be a very big piece to healing acne. Food sensitivities cause digestive disturbances, increase inflammation and impact hormones and skin health. Your ND will help you identify and heal your food sensitivities.
A Naturopathic Doctor will help you develop a treatment plan that focuses on your individual needs, and will help identify potential nutrient deficiencies, hormonal imbalances or digestive disturbances that can be contributing to your acne.
Treatment might involved specialized testing, supplement advice and herbs to help identify and target any imbalances.