Our complexion is a reflection of what is happening inside the body. If we’re relying on topical acne treatments alone, we’re usually not addressing the underlying cause of breakouts, and they keep coming back.
The difficult, and often frustrating, thing about acne is that it can be caused by many different factors. Let’s dig deeper into the most common causes of acne:
Reactions to foods cause inflammation in the body. Acne caused by this inflammatory response to foods is often seen on the forehead and cheeks, and present as small bumps that can look almost rash-like. Testing for food intolerances can be done through blood work to assess which foods are causing the most inflammation. Food intolerance testing gives us a road-map of which foods to minimize or eliminate from the diet, as well as provides indicators about your overall gut-health. Read more about food intolerances.
Hormonal acne tends to be around the jawline and chin, and presents as deep, cystic, and painful. This type of acne is more common in women, and it is often accompanied by irregular or heavy periods. However, men with high testosterone levels may also experience hormonal acne. Blood work can help us determine if cystic acne is being caused by high testosterone (as we often see in PCOS), estrogen dominance, or high progesterone levels.
Treatment may involve managing PCOS through nutrition and supplements, supporting liver detoxification of hormones, or balancing the estrogen-progesterone relationship.
Constipation or IBS
You should be having at least one fully evacuated bowel movement per day. If not, your body is not effectively eliminating toxins and waste from the bowel, so instead, it comes out in the skin. Breakouts can be anywhere on the face, and pimples tend to be red with a whitehead.
Treatment may involve assessing the gut flora, increasing fibre and water, and using supplements (not laxatives!) to promote regularity. Learn more about constipation and IBS.
Unhealthy Gut Flora
If you have had many rounds of antibiotics, eat poorly (processed foods and sugar), are stressed, or have taken certain medications, chances are that your healthy gut bacteria have been harmed, and unhealthy strains of bacteria and yeast (aka Candida) have taken their place. An unhealthy gut microbiome causes increased inflammation in the body, which can present as acne. Other hints that may have an unhealthy gut microbiome include bloating, indigestion, mucous in the stool, fatigue, and/or vaginal yeast infections.
There are many other factors that can contribute to acne that should also always be addressed as part of an acne treatment plan, including:
- Stress and anxiety
- Not drinking enough water
- Liver over-burden (alcohol, cigarettes, fatty liver disease)
- Nutrient deficiencies (zinc, vitamin A)
- Sugar and/or dairy intake
The bottom line is that it’s important to look at acne as a signal that there is another issue happening in the body. If our body processes are all working well, we shouldn’t be experiencing more than the occasional pimple!
Book an appointment to assess and treat the underlying cause(s) of your breakouts. Let’s take control of your acne!