Acne treatment – holistic approach

Acne isolates people in so many ways. All my clients who struggle with acne share this feeling. They feel ashamed, anxious and embarrassed. Self-esteem plummets and confidence goes out the window. Social anxiety sets in, people’s personal and work relationships suffer. Often, no matter how hard they try, their skin just keeps getting worse. People spend a small fortune trying product after product. Some of these products help but only for a while. Sooner or later, acne raises its ugly head again.

I often think that acne is like an iceberg – we only see its peak, but the real problem lies underneath, hidden from view. That’s why attempting to treat acne with topical products is no more than slapping a band-aid. Effective acne treatment has to address the root cause. Acne requires a holistic approach, it is truly a multi-faceted problem.

What causes acne

Acne is a chronic inflammatory disease that involves increased sebum production. Excess sebum is an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. People normally associate acne with puberty and hormonal changes. Increased production of sex hormones make sebaceous glands hyperactive. As a result, we get greasy, inflamed skin, comedones, spots and pimples. Cysts that leave scars form in more severe cases.

Acne in teenagers

Acne usually starts in adolescence and resolves by the early-twenties. Girls often develop acne earlier than boys, but boys tend to have more severe outbreaks. Puberty seems to happen earlier these days, and I often see 10-11-year-old kids with acne.

Adolescence is a tricky period in life. Body changes coupled with emotional rollercoaster make life difficult for a growing person. Kids feel vulnerable and become super-sensitive, resentful, critical towards others and themselves. Acne makes life even harder, and their self-esteem comes crashing down. It’s normal to have a few pimples here and there. However, if the outbreaks become more serious, it’s important to treat acne early to avoid scars. Homeopathy treats the whole person, not just their skin, that’s the beauty of it. My young clients become noticeably calmer, more agreeable and confident as their acne improves.

Acne in adults

Most of my adult clients never suffered from acne growing up. Its onset completely catches them by surprise. When acne develops at a later age, it’s a sign of a deeper, more serious problem. Skin is an excretory organ. By pushing out toxins, the body is trying to protect and restore itself. Therefore, acne treatment needs to recognise the body’s attempt to correct an imbalance. Suppressing the outbreaks makes no sense to me. It only masks the problem. As one of my patients put it,

I am grateful to my acne for pointing me in the right direction and showing me what was really going on beneath my skin. I was able to discover the root causes and significantly improve my health.

Understandably, most people find it hard to be thankful. A change of perspective can be really helpful though. Instead of fighting the enemy, you can turn this into an opportunity to figure out what your body needs, and begin healing. Your body is trying to tell you something, symptoms are its language. It helps to listen.

Hormonal causes of acne

Many issues can cause acne in adults. Most often in my practice I treat acne related to endocrine system disorders. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) frequently triggers acne. Also, hormonal change during and after pregnancy and menopause is a common culprit. Many of my female clients have acne flair-ups triggered by their period. Some have either excess body and facial hair or hair loss. Thyroid imbalance can also cause breakouts. As a result, acne treatment often involves balancing hormones.

Gut imbalance and acne

Microbiome plays a key role in our physical and mental health. There is more and more research that confirms this. Inflammatory skin conditions have been directly linked to disruptions in gut health. In other words, acne is often caused by digestive problems. Skin and gut go hand in hand, and many cases require additional bowel, liver and kidney support for effective acne treatment. Supporting main detox pathways reduces the amount of toxins excreted through the skin.

Emotional causes of acne

Stress levels and emotional health is another common factor. Chronic stress triggers or aggravates acne. Many clients report that their acne gets worse during particularly stressful times. Along with acne, people suffer from insomnia, low immunity, irritability, and so on. Exploring the emotional side of the case always forms part of holistic acne treatment.

No one-size-fits-all approach

If you are still reading this article, I hope it is clear at this stage that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Everyone has different causes and manifestations of acne, therefore the treatment has to be individualised. This client’s experience with mainstream medicine sums up what most people tell me:

When I saw the doctor, he just threw the prescription at me after listening for less than five minutes. He had zero interest in finding out the cause.

Conventional medicine sees symptoms as something harmful that has to be suppressed. Holistic medicine uses symptoms as valuable information that guides the practitioner to where the real imbalance is. We also want you to be symptom-free, but the process is different. We heal the dis-ease and as a result, the body lets go of the symptoms because it doesn’t need them anymore. It goes something like this: hungry baby communicates by crying (symptom), but once you feed him (remove the cause), he stops. Simple.

Acne – home remedies
  • Skin care: most clients I see are well aware of the importance of keeping their skin clean. In fact, a lot of them are overdoing it, and this in itself can be part of the problem. Using harsh cleansers irritates the skin further. Also, drying products make your skin overcompensate and produce more oil. Remember, body is intelligent and will always try to restore itself as best it can. Choose gentle cleansers and products that will keep your skin hydrated. Keep it simple. The real problem isn’t sitting on top of your skin anyway. Explore oil cleansing. Some of my clients found Dr. Hauschka’s products very effective. Another brand that I really like is called Skin: Genius, a UK company that uses clever organic ingredients.
  • Sweating: reasonable amount of exercise is great, as sweating promotes the release of toxins. Quite a few people notice, however, that sweating makes their acne worse. Shower and clean your face after your exercise.
  • Pillowcase, phone and picking: keep your pillowcase and towels clean. Same goes for your phone screen and make-up brushes. Avoid touching your face too often. And most definitely, don’t pick your pimples!
  • Remain hydrated: helps flush out toxins and aids bowel function. Keep it within reason though, many people go overboard, thinking the more the better. Excessive water intake puts a strain on your kidneys.
  • Dietary approach: experiment with reducing or eliminating sugar, gluten and dairy. Caffeine, chocolate and eggs are also common triggers. Include foods high in omega-3 fatty acid.
  • Keep regular: avoid constipation. Increase your fibre intake, incorporate fermented foods.
  • Supplements: vitamin A and C; Zinc; omega-3. Borage oil is prized for its high gamma linoleic acid (GLA) content; GLA has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Good quality probiotics. Chromium picolinate helps reduce the rate of skin infection.
Homeopathy for acne

In simple cases, proper diet and hygiene can do a lot. To support your skin further, consider taking a mix of four remedies in low potency: Calcarea sulphurica, Kali muriaticum, Kali sulphuricum and Silica in 6x potency daily. This tissue salts combination will support and maintain your skin.

However, this will not be enough to resolve a more severe case. There are many various causes and presentations of acne. Hence, it’s impossible to select a remedy without extensively exploring and analysing each individual case. Acne treatment requires deep-acting constitutional remedies. The prescription has to be based on the complete symptom picture.

Clients, especially teenagers, are often desperate to get rid of acne and have very little patience. It is important to understand that homeopathy is not a short-term fix-up. The aim is to cure the condition permanently. Acne treatment can be stubborn, and there may be periods of worsening of the symptoms. In my experience, most cases take a few months to clear. If you feel you can commit to the treatment, please get in touch with me. I can help you achieve clear and radiant skin, feel more confident and improve your overall health and wellbeing.