Most of the topics I write about, have hit home for me (you’re probably thinking, my lord that’s a lot to happen to one person) and you’re right , it is! I joke with my clients that if someone were to react negatively to something, I’m your girl!
When I was a teenager, I always had oily skin that broke out often (which led to the introduction of accutane and hormonal birth control for several years). Sure the acne cleared up, but as soon as I got off the Rx’s the acne returned.
After being Rx-free for several years, I was pressured to try the IUD when I was 25 – at the same time I started to really train hard at CF alongside growing my business => read as mega stress to my body.
Soon, I started getting acne on my back, neck, and jawline – it was RELENTLESS – it didn’t seem like there was any rhyme or reason to it either – just ALWAYS there and it hurt so bad (not to mention I really didn’t feel like showing my face in public either 🙁
So this led to another rabbit hole or research:
-What causes acne?
-Are there things in my life that I can add or remove in order to decrease it?
– Was it something that I had control over? Or was it genetic?
Here is what I found…
Cause #1: Inflammation
Skin can be inflamed from the outside as well as the inside.
Externally, skin can be triggered by UV light or allergens in soaps and cosmetics which cause the skin cells to produce cytokines and chemokines (inflammatory hormones that bind to certain cell receptors and then trigger more inflammatory hormones leading to increased blood flow and immune cell activity).
Internally, an inflammatory response occurs when viruses, toxins, food allergens / intolerance, or even medications deem a threat to the immune system. Histamine is released as a inflammatory mediators which in turn causes inflammation in the gut.
Inflammation of the skin often stems from inflammation of the gut which then leads to leaky gut and an even more increased exposure to foreign invaders causing more inflammation.
Cause #2: Microbiome Dysbiosis
Internally, our digestive system contains a delicate balance of microorganisms that we obtain from childbirth. But as we age, this balance can become off kilter due to exposure to toxins, infections, antibiotics, poor food quality, and even medications that can negatively alter the species of bacteria in our gut.
Externally, your skin has a microbiome all to itself as well. When the ecosystem is balanced, your skin is protected from pathogens and promotes a healthy lipid barrier and immune system in case of a threat of infection. But when you have acne, your skin microbiome becomes disrupted, because of this, you will need to take an internal and external approach to address the dysbiosis.
Cause #3: Oxidative Damage
Excess exposure to UV ray generate an abundance of free radicals in the skin and when these level surpass what the organ can handle, then oxidative damage occurs. This can cause premature aging, sunburn, inflammation, and cancer. It can also cause a depletion of antioxidants in the skin such as Vitamin C and E.
Oxidative damage can also happen internally from toxins and poor food quality (such a s processed foods high in sugar, vegetable oils and chemicals).
Cause #4: Blood Sugar Issues
Glucose gets a bad wrap, but remember that it is essential to many of the processes in the body. A good thing becomes a bad thing when glucose is consumed in excess or not metabolized correctly. When this happens, a process called glycation occurs where glucose binds to collagen and elastin in the skin producing advanced glycation end products (AGEs).
In addition, high amounts of glucose can cause high amounts of insulin which triggers inflammation and an increase in sebum production and androgen activity, believe it or not.
Cause #5: Hormonal Imbalance
Hormones are the chemical messengers in our body so you can imagine if the messengers are off balance, then the processes in our body are going to be off balance. One of the symptoms of this imbalance is going to be skin issues. Many hormones play a role in skin health: adrenal (cortisol and DHEA), thyroid (T3 and T4), melatonin, and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, testosterone).. For example when cortisol is elevated due to stress, it triggers inflammation which can exacerbate acne. Another example is when testosterone is too high, specifically when it ventures down a potent androgenic pathway, oily skin and acne can be more prevalent.
So now that we know what is causing your acne – how do we fix it?
Now that is the million dollar question! But thankfully we will be covering it in the next articles so stay tuned!