Acne is a stubborn skin condition that people increasingly face today, often long after puberty has passed. Adult acne can make people feel like they can’t see clear skin at the end of the tunnel. Hormone fluctuations that start at puberty don’t stop there either. Adults in their 30’s and 40’s continue to experience hormone changes, especially in response to stress. Typical treatments prescribed at the doctor’s office, such as oral antibiotics and birth control, don’t offer a long-term solution for many with the side-effects they can carry. Let’s go under the surface and talk about five basic tips to help relieve adult acne.
Tip one is to look at the diet. Over-consumption of refined wheat, sugar, and dairy can disrupt blood sugar control and for some people increase both insulin levels and androgens. What are androgens? Androgens are male-type hormones that include testosterone, and women have them as well in small amounts. At excess levels, testosterone and other androgens can wreak havoc on the skin by increasing sebum (oil) production, promoting clogged pores, and upsetting the balance of female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone. If these foods are the bulk of your diet, it is probably time to shake the diet up with increased fruits and vegetables, lean meats and proteins, and low glycemic foods.
Number two: Stress matters for the skin. When stress accumulates, it increases the release of the hormone cortisol from the adrenal glands. Cortisol not only disrupts male or female hormone balance, but it can also cause unwanted inflammation in the body. Acne involves inflammation too, so the increased aggravation from high cortisol doesn’t help. Explore how you can lower daily stress in a reasonable way. Ideas include exercise, deep breathing exercises, yoga or stretching, talking to someone, journaling, or the simple act of sitting down with a good book and a hot cup of chamomile tea.
Sleep is the third area to look at for healthy skin support. Many people get involved in poor sleep habits and accept that as unchangeable. Lack of restful sleep can cause acne by promoting hormone imbalance, poor meal choices, dehydrated and unbalanced skin tissue, and increased stress. Sleep is the time during which the human body, including the skin, gets to recover from the day’s events. Under-sleeping or over-sleeping won’t let the skin recover properly. Toxins and free radicals can build up in the body and the skin, contributing to acne. If this scenario sounds familiar, it’s time to pick a healthy sleep schedule.
Lack of hydration is another problem when it comes to skin health and acne. The substitution of caffeinated beverages, soda, and alcohol for water makes it difficult for the skin to clean itself properly. Water is important for the detoxification functions of the liver, proper blood and lymph flow, and support for stress. All of these factors are needed for cleansed skin before your skin cleaning product even comes into the picture. Good blood flow and nutrients heading to the skin and toxins leaving the skin is essential for skin health and preventing acne.
Finally, move the body. Lack of movement and exercise creates stagnation in the body, the digestion, and the skin. Physical activity is an essential part of every skin care plan, even though it doesn’t directly go on the skin. Skin tissue is sensitive to what’s going on around it, both physically and psychologically. Exercise helps lift the energy, mood, and spirit. All these benefits go to the skin as well. If you feel like it’s been a while since you’ve been active, it’s not necessary to dedicate hours and hours to the gym. Pick an activity that is fun for you and that you can enjoy consistently. Include stretching and deep breathing for extra benefits.
Steps toward supporting overall health may not produce instant results for acne. They do, however, create a great foundation for anything else that you try---whether it’s acupuncture, esthetic work, a visit to a naturopath, or a new skin care product. These steps also don’t come with side-effects. Start with these basics and you’ll be on the road to clearer skin.