Debbie Bernheim

The Hidden Causes of Acne

The latest findings could not be clearer: Women are breaking out more than ever. Here, are some surprising reasons – and what you can do about it.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 50 percent of women in their 20s, 26 percent in their 30s, and 25 percent of those in their 40s are breaking out. A record number of adults are plagued with breakouts. Because of the growing problem, there is more research being done to figure out what is behind these skin issues and the most effective ways to treat them.

Why We Have More Acne Now!

Besides monthly hormonal fluctuations or the fact that we sometimes skip washing our face, dermatologists believe that everything from what we eat to where we live could be behind this sudden pimple proliferation. Medical experts are finding that we’re living with too much inflammation and this is responsible for a whole host of issues, including acned skin.

“We now understand that acne is driven by inflammation,” says Carl Thornfeldt, M.D., the creator and founder of Epionce Skin Care. “It causes the sebaceous glands to be more active, and it allows increases in skin bacteria and yeast.”

Why are we so inflamed these days? One major culprit: stress. Daily stressors raise your cortisol level, which increases inflammation. Your glands release more oil and your immune system is suppressed – the perfect storm for a breakout. Managing your stress levels (by exercising, seeing friends, etc.) may help you with runaway inflammation and acne.

We’re Carbo-Loading!

Despite all the protein-heavy diets out there, the average American diet is full of carbohydrates, and new research says that it affects our skin. “We’ve always observed a link between diet and acne, but now we know the science behind it. Studies have shown that refined carbs with a high glycemic index (processed foods like white pasta and white bread) increase insulin levels and insulin-like growth factor 1; that in turn causes the production of androgens, male hormones (women make them as well) that increase oil production and inflammation, which leads to pimples. Acne-prone patients need to adopt a low-glycemic-index diet (lean protein, lots of vegetables) and to boost their intake of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies and omega-3 fatty acids (get them from wild salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds) to quell the inflammation that spurs acne flare-ups”.

We’re Consuming Hidden Hormones!

There has long been a link between dairy products and acne, and while there’s still no definitive answer as to why, many experts suspect that hormones are to blame. All milk, even organic, contains hormones, because cows are often kept in a pregnant state to produce more milk. Also, chemicals that mimic or disrupt hormones, such as BPA (found in plastic containers and the linings of canned foods), can unleash an inflammatory cascade in the body. If you’re dealing with persistent pimples, switching to a nondairy alternative (such as almond, coconut, or hemp milks) and avoiding BPA may help.

Use Probiotics

Research suggests that restoring balance to an unhealthy gut may help reduce acne-triggering inflammation. That’s where probiotics, which encourage healthy bacteria, come in. Get your fill from probiotic-rich foods and drinks, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, or miso paste. If you want to take a supplement, experts say to opt for one with a high organism count – 30 to 50 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) – and to stick with well-studied stains like lactobacillus. Using probiotics topically may also keep bumps at bay. The theory is that probiotics shield cells from bad bacteria, calm inflammation, and have an antimicrobial effect.

Supplement Your Skin!

If, like clockwork, your skin acts up right around the time you have your period, try taking 100 milligrams of vitamin B6 in the days leading up to and during it. This vitamin reduces the flare-up of breakouts because it prevents an excessive imbalance of the hormones, suggest Dr. Thornfeldt. Spearmint tea might help too. A Study by the American Academy of Dermatology suggests that drinking two cups daily can reduce acne. The minty beverage is not only anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, but has also been shown to block acne-stimulating androgens. In a study done on women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, a condition marked by high androgen levels, women who drank the tea twice a day had significantly lower levels of the
male hormones after one month.

The excerpts were taken from a article found in Shape Magazine, September 2016
Written by Krista Bennett Demaio