ALL I WANT IS CLEAR SKIN
By: Dr. Alison Gottschalk, ND
‘All I want is clear skin. I’m 26, I went on the pill in my late teens specifically for my skin, it’s still not great. I thought I would come see you first, before we try accutane’ – Health Over All patient.
To the women who can’t seem to shake off acne, despite being past their teen years and feeling frustrated – I see you.
What we know to be true about acne, is that there can be several factors for why it’s occurring. One of the top reasons I see cystic acne is from high androgens, or the male based hormones seen on blood work.
Usually these women have other concerns going on, including irregular periods, sometimes having PCOS, trouble losing weight, to name a few.
When testosterone is high, and converted into its more potent form called DHT, we tend to see increases in acne, in both males and females. We see an increase in both sebum production within the gland, as well as an increase in cell proliferation – meaning that the dead skin cells start to create a thicker layer over the gland, where the sebum tends to be a breading ground for any of the p. acnes bacteria associated with cystic acne.
Interestingly, we may see an increase in acne along the back, chest and faces with continuous high-intensity workouts, regardless of how well you’re washing and cleansing the skin. This is thought to be related to the increased push towards DHT. However, this is not to say stop doing high intensity workouts, rather have a more in-depth look into your overall hormone profile.
As I have mentioned before, women too need testosterone. If levels are none-existed or very low, we tend to see fatigue, inability to achieve and maintain muscle mass, and low libido.
What about inflammation?
In addition, acne can appear ‘worse’, when there is also an anti-inflammatory component at play. We tend to see more of the redding and swelling associated with cystic acne. To fully address inflammation, we really need to ensure a holistic approach.
A full health assessment starting with gut health is often needed. From the foods you’re eating, to how you’re pooping, and being honest with yourself about some of the unhealthy habits, like how much pop, alcohol, and sugary carbs you’re actually having. For most women, focusing on healthy eating habits rather than topical creams, is the difference maker for living a lasting blemish-free life. This is because we’re more likely to get to the root cause of concern – high androgens and inflammation – through diet, rather than solely using topical therapies.
If you’re looking for a simple incorporation to start to day, the green tea component ECGC in the form of a matcha green tea, could be started. Not only is it good for inflammation, but also combating high androgens associated with acne. Powdered matcha made into a green tea latte, is a great way to incorporate this ECGC for starters.
So what should be our first steps?
Continue practising clean skin hygiene practices, but also look at that hormonal component. If high androgens are your source for cystic acne – no cream or face wash in the world will rid acne, if the underlying source is not being addressed.
I often suggest a female hormone panel on blood work, including testing for these androgens. Once we know whats going on, we’re better able to get your skin glowing sooner rather than later.
Sound like you? Reach out, I’d love to hear your story
Dr. Alison Gottschalk, ND
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