Almost nobody gets through puberty without experiencing the embarrassment of acne. It’s one of the most common skin conditions worldwide, and affects almost every adolescent to some degree. For most people, when they leave their adolescent years behind, they also outgrow their acne. However, acne can persist for some people well into their forties and longer.
There are many different types of acne, but in general, it is a skin condition in which your pores and hair follicles become clogged with oil and dead skin cells. The plugged pores can cause pimples, blackheads, and red painful bumps, called cysts. Acne most frequently appears on your face, but can also affect your chest, neck, and upper back. While acne isn’t life-threatening, it can cause permanent scarring, embarrassment, and emotional suffering. Most of us have memories of their adolescence in which an event or social occasion was spoiled by an acne breakout.
While there are a number of myths about what causes acne, in reality, this condition is caused by only a few factors. Excess oil production by your skin, clogged pores and hair follicles, bacteria, and excess androgens are the underlying causes of acne. Androgens are hormones that increase during adolescence, which is why acne is so universally common during the pre-teen and teenage years.
There are factors that may aggravate or increase your chances of developing acne, or having a more severe case, which includes:
- Your age. Acne is most common during the adolescent years.
- Changes in your hormones, both an increase in androgens, but also cyclical changes related to the menstrual cycle.
- Acne is more common in people whose parents also had acne.
- Areas of pressure on your skin by athletic equipment, tight clothing, glasses, etc.
- Exposure to grease and oils. This can include the use of oils or lotions on your skin or working in a greasy kitchen.
- Your diet. Research suggests that dairy products and a diet high in simple carbohydrates (such as sugar) can aggravate your acne.
- Stress, while not a direct cause of acne, can trigger breakouts.
There are a number of common misconceptions about acne. First of all, acne isn’t caused by eating greasy foods, and there is scant research connecting it to eating chocolate. Additionally, acne isn’t caused by dirty skin, and in some instances vigorously scrubbing your skin or using harsh products can actually aggravate your acne. Spending time in the sun won’t clear up your acne, either. In fact, the opposite is true. Exposure to the sun may dry your skin out for a short time, but the sun’s UV rays actually increase oil production. In addition, the thickening of your skin that comes with a tan only serves to block your pores and promote blemishes.
Treating Your Acne at BodaHealth
Standard treatments for acne depends on the severity of your case. Topical products containing benzoyl peroxide or retinoids may be used for mild or moderate cases. These products may be combined with oral antibiotics or retinoids for more severe cases. These medications may get the job done, but have side effects, such as dry skin from the topical medications, and digestive issues or yeast overgrowth from long term use of antibiotics. For that reason, many people with acne are looking to get to the bottom of what’s causing their acne, as well as to treat it in a more natural way to avoid side-effects.
A number of research studies suggest that acupuncture may play a positive role in treating acne. A review of several studies found that treating acne with acupuncture was comparably as effective as standard medical treatments. This is good news for patients who either choose not to or can’t use standard acne medications.
Treating your acne with acupuncture may be effective because it works to decrease inflammation, regulate your body’s immune response, balance your hormones, and reduce stress—all of which play a role in this skin condition. In addition to acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine may also be used. An herbal formula would be prescribed, based on your needs and specific symptoms. The herbs work to support your acupuncture treatments and can be a powerful way to boost effectiveness.
At BodaHealth, our naturopathic doctors also work to understand and treat the underlying cause of your acne. They may assess you for hormonal imbalances, nutritional issues, food intolerances, and exposure to toxic substances that may be causing or aggravating your skin. They are able to prescribe vitamins, nutrients, probiotics, herbs, hormones, and medications when necessary.
Both our acupuncture practitioners and naturopathic physicians believe that diet and nutrition play a huge role in any health condition. Emerging research has uncovered links between diet and acne, showing that a high glycemic load diet and a diet high in dairy foods may contribute to the development of acne. In addition, getting adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, Vitamin A, zinc, iodine, and levels of dietary fiber may also play a role. Our practitioners are able to work with you to prescribe a nutritional plan to optimize your health, decrease inflammation, and ensure that you’re getting enough of the nutrients that are beneficial to your skin, while downplaying those foods that may aggravate your acne.
Whether you’re 14 or 45, acne is no fun. At BodaHealth, we get it. Our practitioners are experienced and committed to giving you the best natural health care possible. We have the clinical skills and a variety of healing strategies to effectively treat your acne once and for all!