Understanding Acne-related Issues
In the following lines, you will discover the essential elements to understand the origins of acne, the mechanisms involved, and treatment approaches.
Tone's Word: "Today, we destigmatize acne, an essential process to stop pointing-out imperfect skin and, therefore, stop feeding the dictates of perfection.
However, for some people, living with acne is still challenging. To inform ourselves and understand what can be changed in our lifestyle to prevent acne versus what comes from genetics, hormones, and is often beyond our control, Alaena Cosmetics has prepared this guide on acne. And let's not forget, our physical appearance is the least interesting thing about us; let's show kindness and no longer point-out someone's skin".
Acne, once considered a typical adolescent problem, now affects an increasing number of adults.
It is crucial to treat this condition promptly as the causes of acne reveal certain overall imbalances that can also lead to other disorders.
Acne is a common dermatological condition characterized by the presence of comedones, blackheads, and often red and voluminous microcysts (inflammatory) as well as white cysts (excess sebum).
These lesions primarily appear on the face (cheeks, forehead, chin), neck, and back and can lead to persistent scarring in the long term. It is interesting to note that acne is a modern disease, linked to our Western lifestyle, being practically non-existent in populations living in non-industrialized environments.
What are the origins of acne?
Acne is a chronic inflammatory condition of the pilosebaceous unit (see diagram). The sebaceous gland produces sebum, which helps maintain hydration, suppleness, and softness of the epidermis, as well as the balance of the skin's microbiota (the bacterial flora of the skin).
The functioning of the sebaceous glands is related to hormonal activity, and sebum production is particularly significant during adolescence or pregnancy, periods marked by intense hormonal activity.
Acne is directly caused by three phenomena:
- Seborrhea, which corresponds to an overproduction of sebum.
- Hyperproliferation of skin cells.
- Proliferation of the bacterium Cutibacterium acnes, leading to skin inflammation, resulting in skin irregularities and redness.
These three phenomena are influenced by various interacting factors:
The cells of the sebaceous gland are sensitive to hormones such as insulin, IGF-1, and androgens. In case of hormonal disturbances, sebum production is altered (both in terms of quantity and quality), the channels at the entrance of the sebaceous glands become blocked, and inflammatory processes are triggered. Hormonal imbalances, including androgens, estrogens, puberty, and hormonal fluctuations in adults (related to contraceptive pills, intrauterine devices, pregnancy, etc.), can influence the onset of acne.
The skin microbiota, which comprises microorganisms present on the skin's surface, plays a key role in acne pathology. When the skin microbiota is balanced, beneficial bacteria limit the growth of Cutibacterium acnes (naturally present on the skin) and reduce inflammatory reactions. However, any infection, skin aggression, or bacterial resistance due to prolonged use of antibiotics can lead to an overgrowth of Cutibacterium acnes and disrupt the balance of the skin microbiota, thus causing skin inflammation. In the treatment of acne, it is therefore important not to completely eliminate Cutibacterium acnes but rather to restore balance by promoting the presence of other beneficial bacteria.
Environmental factors also play a significant role in acne development, as they promote inflammatory processes and weaken the skin and intestinal microbiota. Stress, lack of sleep, regular medication intake, tobacco, poor diet, and the use of inappropriate cosmetics are all factors that can contribute to the development of acne.
Genetic predispositions also play a role in the occurrence of acne. People with a family history of acne are more likely to suffer from it themselves. This hereditary link is now explained by the transmission of the skin microbiota from one generation to another. Understanding the origin of acne is crucial for establishing a suitable routine to rebalance the skin microbiota without aggressing it, regulate sebum secretion and composition, and reduce inflammation.
How to treat acne?
Our skin, just like our entire body, needs nutrients to produce energy, perform its functions, and eliminate waste.
Regarding our skin, it produces sebum, which serves as a pathway for eliminating fats from our bodies.
This process takes place at the level of the pilosebaceous follicle, and if the composition of sebum is altered (too thick, inflammatory), it leads to the appearance of acne.
The liver plays a crucial role in lipid management.
Indeed, our body naturally eliminates toxins through the liver, kidneys, and intestines.
However, if the liver is overloaded, meaning it receives an excess of toxins and is unable to eliminate them through the usual pathways, they will be eliminated through the skin, leading to stimulation of the sebaceous glands.
Thus, it is important to address the metabolic aspect of acne, which is often overlooked in dermatology.
Although the relationship between the skin and the intestine is better understood, the functioning of the liver as a metabolic hub responsible for managing sugars and fats is often ignored by modern medicine, despite being the foundation of traditional medicines.
Yet, it is possible to have a lasting effect on acne by stimulating liver detoxification and carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
This helps improve the overall condition of the body since acne is a sign of deeper dysfunction.
Liver detoxification is a key element in acne treatment. The main functions of the liver include storing fats and sugars as glycogen, synthesizing lipoproteins to transport lipids, distributing nutrients from the intestine to organs in need, synthesizing coagulation factors, growth hormones, and vitamins (such as vitamin D), and aiding in fat digestion through bile. Liver detoxification helps sort and eliminate toxins and waste from the body through enzymes such as cytochrome.
Toxins can be endogenous, such as hormones (especially androgens, which play a key role in acne), or exogenous, such as medications, tobacco, alcohol, pesticides, and other chemicals, including endocrine disruptors. To promote liver detoxification and treat acne in a sustainable way, the following measures are recommended:
Eliminate sources of toxins: reduce or eliminate consumption of processed foods, alcohol, tobacco, and other toxic substances.
Promote a balanced diet: prioritize whole, unprocessed foods rich in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid foods high in sugar, trans fats, and artificial additives, which can worsen skin inflammation.
Support liver function: consume foods and herbs beneficial for the liver, such as milk thistle, dandelion, artichoke, garlic, turmeric, and lemon. Drink enough water to promote toxin elimination.
Balance hormones: adopt a balanced diet, exercise regularly, manage stress, and avoid endocrine disruptors found in household chemicals, cosmetics, and plastics.
Take care of your skin: use products suitable for your skin type, cleanse gently without aggression, avoid comedogenic cosmetics and irritating products.
Consult a healthcare professional: in case of severe or persistent acne, it is recommended to consult a dermatologist or qualified naturopath who can assess your specific case and provide a personalized treatment plan.