acne

Acne over 30? Here’s how to say goodbye to those pesky pimples once and for all.

Acne is a frustrating condition and not something we expect to follow us into adulthood. Beyond simply affecting appearance, acne can have an incredible impact on mental health and self-confidence. Even more troubling, there is no one size fits all solution when it comes to treating acne. With a number of possible factors at play it can be difficult to pinpoint the right issue to solve.

At the bare minimum, every person struggling with acne needs a good foundational skincare routine with active ingredients that both treat and prevent breakouts. But topical skincare can only go so far. The most common culprits of adult acne are systemic – so treating acne must start from within.

Culprit #1: Diet

The food that you put in your mouth can help or hurt your complexion. Common foods that sabotage your clear complexion include sugar, dairy, poor quality meats and oils, alcohol, and gluten containing grains. Sugar in particular is one of the biggest culprits in causing acne.

One of the best ways to support your skin is through an antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet. This includes healthy fats, high quality proteins, and loads of colorful fruits and vegetables. Some of my favorite healthy fats come from wild salmon, avocado, and nuts and seeds. These foods are rich is omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which are necessary for proper skin barrier function and protect the skin with their anti-inflammatory properties. The highest antioxidant foods you will find will be from plant foods – aim for at least 2 cups of vegetables with each meal, the more variety the better.

It is important to note that for every individual there can be different triggers. The best, and only, way to identify foods that may be triggering your acne is with a true elimination diet. Food sensitivity testing can help you to identify the specific foods that you need to eliminate. Testing can be helpful at identifying foods that are unique to each individual but starting with the biggest culprits, like sugar and dairy, is a great place to start.

Culprit #2: Gut Dysbiosis

Mounting research over the last few years suggests gut health has a lot to do with the blemishes that pop up on our skin. When treating someone for any type of skin manifestation we always want to get to the root of why that is happening – and often times it starts in the gut.

If your gut is not functioning optimally, it may lead to malabsorption of key nutrients which in turn prevents you from achieving clear glowing skin. These nutrients not only have a direct effect on your skin but can also have an effect on your immune system and hormones. Several skin disorders like acne, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and rosacea have been shown to be associated with disorders of the gut like general dysbiosis, SIBO, IBD, and celiac disease.

When it comes to gut health it is always best to test what is happening in your gut for a personalized treatment approach. Working with your naturopathic doctor will help you to determine exactly which tests are needed. This may be in the form of a breath test or stool test to identify types of microbial overgrowth. A comprehensive stool analysis not only reveals any overgrowth of bad bacteria but it also sheds light on what is happening with the good bacteria, inflammatory markers, digestion and absorption markers and more. This allows your doctor to specifically target which type of probiotic you might need and if digestive enzymes are appropriate for you.

Culprit #3: Hormones

Hormonal acne is the most common culprit and typically shows up around the jawline. In men, elevated androgens cause skin to produce more oil and therefore increase the risk for developing hormonal acne. Women, on the other hand, do not have consistent hormones levels throughout the month and that is often what triggers acne, especially around ovulation and menses.

The best way to target hormonal acne is to first test your hormones. At Spark Health, we use the Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones – aka the DUTCH test. The DUTCH test is one of the most thorough and accurate ways for assessing hormone levels. Once you have that hormonal information you can then target your specific hormone needs.

Unfortunately, hormone testing can be particularly tricky for women. Hormonal birth control renders hormone tests invalid. And women cannot just get tested at any point of the month. Women should work with their doctor to ensure they are testing on the right day to get the most accurate information.

While diet, acne, and hormones are three of the most common culprits of adult acne, it is so important that you meet with your doctor so that they can identify which triggers may be at the root of your acne. Acne may seem simple, but when it persists into adulthood it requires a deeper dive in order to achieve long lasting results.

If you are interested in getting to the root of your acne please reach out to the Spark Health team of naturopathic doctors. We take a collaborative approach to natural medicine, partnering with patients to help them achieve their unique health and wellness goals. If you are interested in learning more please call us 858-228-4188 or send us an email at Spark@MySparkHealth.com.

Spark Health Integrated Medicine is located in Solana Beach, San Diego County, CA, and was founded in 2013.

-Article Written by Dr. Christina Bradshaw, ND

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