Acne is a common skin condition that normally begins in adolescence and for some can persist into their 30’s and 40’s. Conventional acne treatments typically consists of one of or a combination of – topical treatments such as Benzyl peroxide, retinoid and antibiotic creams. Prescribed treatments such as oral antibiotics, oral contraceptive pills and in extreme cases an oral isotretinoin commonly known as Roaccutane may be prescribed. If you are one of the many that have tried this, and it hasn’t worked for you or you are looking for a natural alternative to these treatments naturopathic care for acne may be for you.
Naturopathic care for acne involves identifying your unique drivers and underlying causes for YOUR acne. The reason this is so important and is the first part of naturopathic care is that everyone is different and our acne can be driven by a multitude of different factors for some these may be hormonal imbalances and hormonal conditions such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) or perhaps it is driven by stress, bacteria and inflammation on the skins surface or your diet. Identifying your drivers is the key to finding and maintaining clear skin.
Acne 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. Commonly found on face, back and chest, these lesions can be classified as comodones (keratin-filled plugs) that can be open (blackheads) or closed (whiteheads), pustules, cysts or nodules.
This is different for everyone, for some it may be just one thing, or it can be a combination of a few different things. There does seem to be a genetic susceptibility, making it more common in families where a close relative also has acne. Bacterial imbalance on the skins surface is a known trigger for acne, acne causing bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes can accumulate in the oil ducts in the skin and cause inflammation leading to breakouts.
There are known hormonal drivers for acne as well. For some it may be an overall hormonal imbalance, an excess in androgen hormones such as testosterone or stress and stress hormones can also be a trigger. These hormones tend to increase the amount of sebum (oil) produced by sebaceous glands which clogs our pores – leading to breakouts.
There are also some dietary triggers and certain diets that can contribute to the development of acne, for some diets high in dairy and high on the glycaemic index can increase the amount of sebum produced in the skin.
A naturopathic approach to managing acne is individually focused – there is no one sizes fits all treatment. In most cases, it will take more than just using the right skin care to get to the bottom of your acne concerns. I will often see several people in the clinic during one day to support the management of acne and the chances are very high that everyone one of them will walk out the door with a different treatment plan. The reasons is that acne is different for everyone, some people may have had acne their whole life only to disappear whilst they were taking an oral contraceptive pill (hello hormonal acne), for others, they may only experience this when coming off an oral contraceptive pill which can be confusing for those that have never had acne before (known as post pill acne), maybe yours is worse for the food you eat or the amount of stress you are under.
Naturopathic care is holistic, meaning we look at the whole person and that individual person’s drivers for acne, so really the treatment plan is for YOU and you alone.
The treatment plan itself will often involve some diet and lifestyle advice as well as specific herbal and nutritional support to address your key drivers for acne.
If you are interested in finding out more about how Naturopathic support may be the key in helping you clear your skin once and for all, you can book a complimentary health chat to discuss your concerns here.
Natalie Earles (Clinical Naturopath)
Natalie is a Clinical Naturopath and runs the Natural Dermatology program at Essendon Natural Health. She has a special focus on the treatment of dermatological complaints and takes care in providing a personalised treatment plan to support her patients. She is available for consultations on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and the first Saturday of the month.