Acne is a sign of an internal imbalance within the body. The key to clear skin really lies in identifying and targeting the underlying cause, as well as ensuring foundations of health are in place
Struggling with Acne?
Adult acne can be very frustrating and demoralizing to deal with. For many adults struggling with acne, it goes further than outward appearances. It impacts their quality of life, negatively affects their social life, and is correlated with higher rates of anxiety and depression. Not to mention, pharmaceuticals available for acne can be very hard on the body with long lasting side effects and high relapse rates.
If you’re struggling with adult acne, there is a lot that naturopathic medicine can offer to help you. We strongly believe that acne is a sign of an internal imbalance within the body. The key to clear skin really lies in identifying and targeting the underlying cause, as well as ensuring foundations of health are in place.
Causes of Adult Acne
local skin imbalances
First and foremost, local skin imbalances are a definite contributor to acne prone skin. Individuals with acne often have microbiome imbalances on the skin’s surface, higher levels of oil production, and local hormone receptor hypersensitivity. All of these factors contributes to the pathogenesis of acne. Targeting your skin dysfunctions directly, as well as determining the underlying cause of these skin changes, is absolutely necessary for the resolution of adult acne.
The skin changes described above don’t just happen on their own - they’re a manifestation of something internally going wrong. Hormonal imbalances are a likely culprit of these skin changes. Individuals with acne often have blood sugar imbalances, as well as reproductive hormone imbalances including higher levels of androgens. Other hormone-related causes of acne include use of progestin only birth control methods.
Digestion is the foundation of health in the body. When our digestive systems aren’t functioning properly, and our microbiomes aren’t well supported, skin conditions such as acne often occur. Thorough assessment of digestion is always recommended if you’re struggling with adult acne.
Dietary factors definitely play a role in the development of acne. Research has shown diets high in processed foods, sugar, and dairy all contribute to the pathogenesis of acne. A thorough assessment of diet, and making dietary changes, can go a long way in the treatment of acne.
Naturopathic Treatment of Acne
With adult acne, the goals of naturopathic treatments are to identify and correct the underlying cause of acne, improve symptom severity, and prevent recurrence rates. This is achieved through individualized testing, as well as customized treatment.
Testing is often not considered when treating acne - we could not disagree more. We strongly believe testing is an essential component to accurately diagnose the root of your skin complaints. Typically, we recommend a blood test to get a baseline assessment of your hormones, nutrient status, liver function, digestive function, and blood sugar patterns. In highly complicated cases, specialized testing may be recommended.
Specialized testing that may be recommended when treating adult acne include the following:
Salivary Hormone Testing
Salivary testing allows us to check hormones at multiple points throughout the day or month, which can show us abnormal hormone patterns over a period of time. It also allows us to measure the level of free hormones that are functionally available to the body - something blood tests often miss.
DUTCH Hormone Testing
DUTCH testing measures hormones in dried urine samples over a 24 hour period. This is the most comprehensive hormone profile you can complete. It tests free hormones that are functionally available to the body as well as their metabolites, so you can identify exactly where things are going wrong.
Specialized Digestive Testing
Depending on your unique case, certain digestive testing may be recommended. We offer testing for SIBO, comprehensive stool analysis, GI mapping, as well as stool culture & sensitivity, and ova & parasites.
Treatment looks different for everyone, and will highly depend on your unique health contributors. Typically with acne we take a short- and long-term approach, as well as treat locally and systemically. This means we will provide you with treatment to get your skin looking and feeling better as quickly as possible, while implementing long-term strategies to prevent acne recurrence. We also work on treating the skin locally - targeting bacteria, oil production, and hormone receptors in the skin, as well as treating the body as a whole, so optimal results are achieved.
Acne: What to Expect from Treatment
If you are struggling with adult acne, here’s a rough outline of what you can expect from naturopathic treatment:
Month 1: Initial Appointment, 60 - 90 Minutes in Length
We complete a thorough social and physical health assessment to identify barriers to skin health. This helps us to understand your unique contributors to health, and gives us clues into what the underlying cause of your acne may be, A social intake, as well as physical exams will be completed.
We will requisition lab work to get a baseline understanding of your inflammatory response, blood sugar balance, general health, and hormone health. Depending on your unique case, specialized labs such as salivary testing, urine testing, or digestive testing may be recommended.
We will complete The Orenda’s Acne Impact Questionnaire to determine the type of acne you are suffering from, how it is impacting your quality of life, and how to best treat your unique case.
You will be sent home with an environmental impact questionnaire, to assess your level of environmental exposure.
An initial treatment plan will be provided to get you started on your road to recovery
Month 1: Nutritional Consult, 30-45 Minutes in Length
Once we have received your lab results and environmental impact questionnaire, we will go over how to support your body through nutrition based on your unique physiological requirements
You will be provided with customized dietary guidelines, grocery lists, and meal plans unique to you
We will discuss obstacles to compliance, and how to overcome them
Month 2: First Follow Up Appointment, 45-60 Minutes in Length
We review your lab results together, so you fully understand how your body is functioning
We will go through an even more detailed, and customized treatment plan that is specific to your physiological needs and based upon your symptoms and lab results
This is the point where we start tracking your progress. Skin conditions such as acne can often take anywhere from 3-9 months to treat.
Months 4-9: Second, Third, Fourth Follow Up Appointments, 45 Minutes in Length
Every two months of customized treatment, we reassess your progress, and reevaluate your goals
We troubleshoot any problems you might be having with treatment or compliance with treatment
We often tweak treatment as needed based on your results. We formulate treatment to further propel you towards your health goals.
By 6-9 months, our goal is that you are feeling much better at this point, and you no longer need us!
We provide you with long-term strategies to help you maintain your skin on your own, and prevent your risk of acne recurrence.
Of course, we can’t guarantee results or how you will respond to treatment. Most patients do feel better by 6 months, however some people take longer, whereas others feel better even sooner. Our ultimate goal is that you don’t have to keep seeing us! We aim to have you feeling your best within 4-5 appointments. At this point, we begin to schedule bi-annual to annual check ups to ensure you’re staying on track, and continuing to feel your best.
If you’re suffering from acne, our hormone and skin support team is here to help answer your questions and provide safe, effective care. If you would like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to contact us or book a complimentary 15 minute meet-and-greet with one of our doctors.