How I was FINALLY able to clear my skin!
As the owner of a skincare company, the number one question I get asked about is acne and how to treat it. If you’ve met me, or know me, you’re aware that I suffered from the worst case of adult acne after the birth of my daughter. Today, I’m fortunate to have beautiful, glowing skin that rarely gets a breakout and I’m going to share with you how I was FINALLY able to clear my skin and keep it clear.
After the birth of my daughter, Jade, I had major hair loss, developed adult cystic acne, suffered from food allergies, sensitives to harsh chemicals and perfume. I had so many health problems that I actually thought I had a serious illness. I would frequent local walk-in clinics and paid a lot of money for private healthcare but still could not get the answers or results I was seeking. To be honest, I felt absolutely lost.
In 2014 things finally changed for me when I met Dr. Bobby Parmar at Evolve Nurturing Vitality. Dr. Parmar was the only doctor whom I met, that actually helped me clear my skin, properly diagnose my polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and teach me how to care for myself moving forward.
To treat acne successfully, I’ve learned that you must treat the root of the problem, kill the bacteria on your skin and follow a good, natural grooming regimen, using natural products. It's why we put so much thought and consideration into formulating our Balance Facial Cleanser. We wanted a product that would gently clean, without stripping the natural oils on your face that help to protect your skin.
If you suffer from acne and have tried to treat it without success, you’re not alone. I recently sat down with Dr. Parmar and interviewed him about the main causes of acne, treatment, and prevention.
What are the top causes of adult acne?
Dr. Parmar: I see three main groups of people with acne.
The first are those who experience acne from lifestyle factors including skin hygiene and dietary choices that don’t work well for them. They often think there is an issue here, but find it difficult to pinpoint the root of the problem. Do I have dry skin or oily skin? What skin care regimen should I use? I think dairy causes me to break out, but I can’t be sure!
The second group are people who are sensitive to hormonal changes in their bodies at various stages of life including puberty for both men and women and menopause specifically for women. Everyone experiences these changes, but only some of us will get skin breakouts. We all have different sensitivities to hormones and the more intolerant the receptors in our skin are to hormones, the more likely they will react to those changes in a way that causes acne. Sometimes diagnose health conditions are responsible for hormonal imbalances. The most common is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and there are others. Here, the condition needs to be treated in order for the acne to improve. In my practice, resolving or managing the root cause in effect takes care of the acne.
The third group are those affected by stress. We don’t give stress the credit it’s due for how much it interferes with proper hormone functioning. Go to any University around midterm time and tell me how much worse the acne is on campus. Stress intimately affects the way hormones like cortisol, testosterone and oil mix together to create acne break-outs. Herbal therapies that support our stress responses can be very effective at improving internal coping mechanisms thereby reducing the propensity to stress acne.
How many patients do you see per year about adult acne?
Dr. Parmar: Many patients I see bring up their skin. They may come in for three health concerns, one being acne, and not know that all three concerns are related. Their gas and bloating may be the cause of their acne. If they suffer from acne Rosacea they may have an infection of their stomach that causes the breakouts, but not realize the connection. Acne is becoming more prevalent mostly because many women are coming off of oral contraceptives that have been controlling their hormones since they were teenagers and are ready to family plan. Many women are put on the Pill to regulate imbalanced hormones like irregular periods or acne and now they are ready to come off and the acne returns. If they had an underlying hormonal imbalance the entire time, the Pill would mask that and would likely be cause for return of acne once off.
Stress is also chronically elevated in our society, which doesn’t help. Our chemical exposure to hormone disruptors in the environment is also higher, which influences acne and increases inflammation in the body.
Should I stop wearing makeup if I have acne?
Dr. Parmar: Most women don’t need to stop wearing makeup unless the makeup is heavy and clogs pores. Makeup is fine to wear so long as it isn’t an obstacle to cure for the underlying reason for acne. Depending on where acne is on the face or body can also help understand what could be causing it and whether it’s more likely a topical agent that one is using or whether it’s a food they’re eating causing it.
Is my diet causing acne?
Dr. Parmar: Diet has strangely been a controversial factor in medicine as to whether it’s related to acne. I don’t know many people who don’t believe diet plays a role in their own acne. There are many foods implicated in acne. Dairy, wheat, alcohol, refined sugar, and spicy foods can all cause or aggravate acne breakouts. There is no one diet fits all acne strategy, which is why it may be difficult to study how diet affects broad groups of people. Dairy for example produces inflammatory factors that aggravate skin, but this isn’t true for everyone.
A naturopathic physician like myself can identify individual underlying factors that cause acne and treat accordingly. If you have a digestive condition as the root cause you may need to treat the infection as well as adopt a sugar free diet like the FODMAPS diet to resolve the acne and the digestive symptoms. H. Pylori is a stomach infection that causes acne rosacea. Instead of treating the acne topically, often treating the stomach infection treats it all together.
Food sensitivity testing can also been helpful to identify potential food triggers for inflammation that otherwise would be difficult to discern by elimination diets. This blood test is a very popular and effective way of treating the causes of acne.
Do you see more men or women?
Dr. Parmar: Hormones play a much bigger role in women experiencing acne than men beyond puberty. Women’s hormones fluctuate more throughout life and are often more vulnerable to these changes.
How can you treat scarring?
Dr. Parmar: After active acne breakouts and acute inflammation are controlled I use a variety of treatments to reduce scarring including antioxidants like NAC or Glutathione as well as topical scarring treatments like finacea gel, which also continue to reduce active inflammation from acne. In more stubborn cases, more treatments for longer are needed or appropriate referrals are made to clinics with advanced therapies in scar management.
What treatment methods can you use to clear your skin?
Dr. Parmar: The usual order of treatments include:
Identify allergens – food elimination diets or food allergy/sensitivity testing
Reduce stress or increase stress coping by supporting cortisol through various means including herbal support like licorice and rhodiola as well as antioxidant support through N-Acetyl-Cysteine and Glutathione. Use topical agents to help decrease external inflammation and infectious bacteria that cause cystic acne. These include natural cleaners and topical antibiotics. Treat underlying hormone imbalances or receptor sensitivity including licorice and spironolactone topical or oral.
Post treatment, how can you keep your skin looking clear and radiant?
Dr. Parmar: Use a skin care regimen that is tailored to you and works for you. More natural is better. Fewer chemicals are less irritating and drying. Protect from harsh environment. Keep inflammation and allergic exposure low. It is important to understand what all the factors are that could be playing a role in your specific acne.