Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that causes spots and pimples, particularly on the face, but also on the shoulders, back, neck, chest, and upper arms. It is caused by inflammation in the hair follicles on the skins surface. These follicles and the sebaceous (oil) glands on the skin become blocked causing acne lesions. Acne is a common skin condition that normally begins in adolescence and for some can persist into their 30’s and 40’s.
My Naturopathic approach for acne involves identifying your individual underlying triggers. The treatment often involves nutritional and lifestyle changes but these will differ for every single person as we all need a different approach. Acne looks different on everyone, some people may have had acne their whole life, some experience it late in life, some people will experience acne after coming off the pill, many women are prescribed hormonal medications like the oral contraceptive pill, yet find that when they come off the pill, their acne returns. Some people can often experience a combination of triggers like; stress and diet or there can be combined hormonal and a dairy intolerance.
From a naturopathic perspective, different parts of the face give clues as to the underlying cause of the breakouts. Breakouts around the mouth and chin-line are usually due to hormonal issues. Breakouts between your brows are normally liver related and the forehead are from digestive toxicity. The mouth and nose I areas indicate the stomach and digestion.
Naturopath treatment of acne includes:
- Stress management
- Hormonal balancing
- Detoxification – blood, lymph and liver
- Digestion support and restoration
- Sebum control
- Restoring nutritional deficiencies
- Reduce inflammation
Human skin has pores that connect to oil glands under the skin. Follicles connect the glands to the pores. Follicles are small sacs that produce and secrete liquid. The glands produce an oily liquid called sebum. Sebum carries dead skin cells through the follicles to the surface of the skin. A small hair grows through the follicle out of the skin. Pimples grow when these follicles get blocked, and oil builds up under the skin. Skin cells, sebum, and hair can clump together into a plug. This plug gets infected with bacteria, and swelling results. A pimple starts to develop when the plug begins to break down.
Acne is more than just skin deep; it has major impacts on mental health (including depression) and can be debilitating throughout adult life.
Types of Acne
- Non-inflammatory Acne: Whiteheads and blackheads.
- Inflammatory Acne: Typically caused by small infections due to P. Acnes bacteria.
- Cystic Acne: An intense form of acne that results in large, inflamed cysts and nodules that appear on the skin.
- Acne Fulminans: A severe form of inflammatory acne that typically affects adolescent males on jaw, chest and back.
- Acne Mechanica: Triggered by excess pressure, heat, and friction. Often affects athletes, causing small bumps and some inflamed lesions