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Acne: What You Need to Know

Written by 

Deborah Freudenmann 

Founder of You Truly Shine

If blemishes and acne are stressing you out, you’re in the right place.

Acne is no doubt a frustrating problem, whether you’re in your teens, twenties, or beyond! On a positive note: it’s a changeable condition! On a less positive note: it is complex and often considered difficult to treat. It robs us of our confidence and makes us want to hide our beautiful faces.

As frustrating as it is, acne is not something to fight but to heal. It is your body’s way of alerting you to imbalances within the body that need care and attention.

  • How hormones can make or break your skin health
  • How to avoid the hidden toxins that cause your skin to break out
  • Why conventional treatments haven’t worked for you
  • How your gut plays a role in acne development
  • How to listen to your body’s signs
  • Understanding how to connect the dots
  • How inflammation and infections can worsen your skin
  • The right foods, products, and supplements to clear acne naturally
  • Delicious recipes to inspire healthy eating

What is Your Acne Telling You?

Your skin is your largest, living, breathing organ. This incredible organ is here to protect you, even if it seems like it’s working against you sometimes. It also plays a major role in your appearance. It is self-restoring and self-protecting.

One of the most intriguing things about the skin is that it reflects what is happening in your body, your mind, and your life. You could even say that your skin is the mirror to health and wellbeing – emotionally and physically!

Both the internal and external environments influence your skin’s response in how well you age, any health conditions you develop, how quickly you heal, and how healthy you look and feel.

When something is “off,” the skin is often the first to show the signs. As such, acne may be a frustrating condition, but it is also a helpful signal from your body that you need to address the root problems within.

Approaches to Acne Treatment

Each person’s acne presents differently and has a different underlying story. As such, acne should be treated on an individual basis, with natural, supportive care that helps the body find its own balance.

The Conventional Approach to Acne

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard about – or even used – those things! Common conventional treatments for acne include both over-the-counter and prescription topical treatments (like cleansers, toners, moisturizers, spot treatments, and more harsh things), as well as prescription oral medications.

Many of these conventional treatments (both topical and internal) work to cover up the symptoms of acne. Yet, they never address the root of the problem. Let me say that again: they n-e-v-e-r address the root of the problem! Even if your skin does improve, you haven’t corrected the issues that lead to acne in the first place. It might be a relief at first, but you’re body couldn’t tell you what it was trying to tell you. And as a result, the condition is likely to return when you stop using these products.

The Functional Medicine Approach to Acne

Like all conditions, functional medicine sees acne as a whole-body condition. Although acne is most clearly a skin condition, there are usually other health factors that lie at the root of the issue. This varies person-to-person, but common root issues include poor gut health, hormonal imbalances, toxicity, inflammation, stress and more.
Once you have a clear, holistic picture of your acne and what causes it to look a certain way, you can follow steps and suggestions to directly target your unique skin and improve it in a natural way.

My Acne Story (and How Functional Medicine Saved My Skin)

I was one of those “lucky” ones. I went through puberty and my teen years without any major skin breakouts. I was often complimented on how wonderful my skin looked, while most of my friends suffered from severe acne.

But then came my early twenties and things changed – drastically. I started to break out with stubborn acne that I thought I had escaped.
Who would have thought I’d suffer from acne outbreaks during my early twenties?! I mean, I thought my twenties were supposed to be my prime years!
Like many women with adult acne, I felt like my skin was rebelling against me. But, the acne flare-ups I experienced were simply a reflection of what was happening in my body, my mind, and my life at the time.

I was deep into my third year of university. I was living the student lifestyle – fueling my brain with caffeine, pushing through stress, commuting several hours, enjoying a little too much alcohol, skipping sleep, eating too much, then almost nothing at all. All of that on top of attempting to enjoy an active social life and dates!

Let’s just say I was struggling hardcore – sound familiar?

Thankfully, my background in functional medicine made it possible for me to take back control of my lifestyle and make the changes I needed to save my skin. Now, my skin is healthy and clear. And if I do get a breakout, I know exactly what to do to bring my skin back into a healthy balance!

What are some common causes of acne?

  • Hormone imbalances

Understanding the changes that your hormones go through, and the visible effects they have on your skin’s barrier function, will help you better understand how to care for your skin and overall health. When hormones shift, skin barrier function is compromised. This causes the skin to become more sensitive and prone to sun damage, redness, breakouts, flushes, aging and dryness. Balancing your hormones can help you prevent these issues and is the key to the long-term health of your skin.

  • Gut health

You may be wondering what your digestive system has to do with your skin health. The gut is crucial to the health of your skin – and your entire body! You’ll see.

  • Diet

It’s true that no single food causes or prevents acne, but rather what ’s on your whole plate. Regularly avoiding foods that cause inflammation or dysregulate the hormones and eating a nourishing, skin-healthy diet is the first step in clearing acne from the inside out. Which is why we are so lucky to have our foodie Pamela provide us with wholesome recipes fuelled by the good stuff.

  • Inflammation & infections

Skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema are often triggered by inflammation. Therefore, taking a close look at what we consume (food, drinks, medications, and more) is necessary to reduce the inflammatory response in our bodies. Chronic infections which can often be hidden in your body weaken the immune system resulting in more prominent skin issues, like acne.

  • Toxins & detox

Our modern lives make living free from toxins pretty difficult. From pollution in the air, to chemicals in our food and water, to the ingredients in the very products we put on our skin… Overtime, these toxins build up and can cause a range of health issues, including acne. Knowing how to reduce the influx of toxins and support elimination is really important. For instance, poo can tell you a lot about the balance of bacteria in your gut, whether your body is detoxifying toxins properly, or how you are absorbing nutrients. Yes, your poo is directly linked to the health of your skin! Don’t worry, you’ll hear more about poo very very soon.

  • Stress and emotions

The truth is, we all experience stress from time to time. But when stress becomes chronic it can start to have a major impact on your physical and mental health. Stress is not a sole cause of acne, but it can have a major effect on the severity and frequency of breakouts and lesions.

  • Lifestyle & habits

As with any health condition, lifestyle habits must be taken into consideration to make real, lasting change. When it comes to skin health and acne, the habits that cause our issues aren’t always clear. Things like face touching, sedentary lifestyle, hygiene considerations, drinking, smoking, exposure to irritants and so forth can all play a role.

Heal Your Acne with Functional Medicine

Dealing with acne is tough. But, my acne taught me a few important lessons:

1. You are beautiful no matter what your skin looks like. 2. Your skin is just the messenger. Listening to its cries for help – rather than fighting it – is always the best choice. 3. A holistic approach to skincare gives you the best chances of restoring your skin’s natural health.

Functional medicine gave me the tools and guidance to make better choices for my health and heal my acne. And it can help you, too! I’m here to help you find the holistic path to help you truly shine, inside and out.

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