Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Acne and Rosacea: Only Skin Deep?

Guest Writer: Amy Kroeker (ND candidate 2013) 

Everyone loves a pale rosy glow on the cheeks but persistent redness and frequent breakouts are something we try to eliminate or hide. But what do these symptoms tell us about our health? Are they genetic or are there environmental triggers? Most commonly, acne and rosacea are treated by face washes that contain antibacterial ingredients or, if more severe, with antibiotic medications. Although these treatments are effective for many people, others see no difference or have side effects such as dry skin and skin irritation. So why are skin conditions so stubborn and what other therapies can help?

Naturopathic medicine seeks to investigate and understand the underlying causes of any condition and skin conditions are no different. Acne and rosacea are rarely seen in children and often begin in the teenage years with puberty as hormones begin to change. This indicates that hormones and hormone dysregulation are factors in skin health. However, many people do not begin to experience acne or rosacea until later in adulthood. Breakouts can occur not only on the face but also the neck, back, chest, arms, or legs. 

It is commonly said amongst Naturopathic Doctors that the skin reflects the health of the gastrointestinal tract or gut. Food allergies and sensitivities can cause a significant amount of inflammation in the body that often appears as skin redness and pimples. Since the skin and the gut are also two important routes of elimination in the body, symptoms in these two organ systems are often correlated to each other. Common symptoms that accompany acne and rosacea are gas, bloating, constipation, moodiness, and fatigue after eating. Other signs of inflammation in the body can even include joint and muscle aches. These symptoms, when combined with acne or rosacea, indicate that what is going on is more than skin deep. 

Treatment of acne and rosacea from a natural perspective often involves testing for food sensitivities and allergies using diagnostic laboratory testing and then treating the gastrointestinal tract using diet change and botanical plant-based formulas or supplements. In this way, acne and rosacea can be treated from the inside out to prevent the recurrence so common with treatment that is only skin deep. For more information on natural treatments for acne and rosacea that address these underlying symptoms consult your local Naturopathic Doctor.