Understanding Issues Related to Acne
In the following lines, you will discover the essential elements to understand the origins of acne, the involved mechanisms, and treatment approaches.
Tone's Note: "Finally today, we're destigmatizing acne, an essential process to stop stigmatizing imperfect skin and thus cease nurturing the dictates of perfection. However, for some individuals, living with acne is still difficult. To address this, to inform ourselves, and to understand what can be changed in our lifestyle to avoid acne, versus what comes from genetics, hormones, and is often beyond control, we have prepared this acne guide. And let's not forget, our physical appearance is the least interesting thing about us. Let's practice kindness and no longer stigmatize skin problems, let's not emphasize someone's skin appearance."
Acne, once regarded as a predominantly adolescent issue, now affects an increasing number of adults.
Treating this condition promptly is crucial, as the causes of acne reveal certain systemic 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 sizable microcysts (inflammatory) as well as white cysts (excess sebum).
These lesions primarily manifest on the face (cheeks, forehead, chin), neck, and back, and can lead to persistent scarring over time. It's interesting to note that acne is a modern ailment, linked to our Western lifestyle, being nearly nonexistent 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 the skin's hydration, suppleness, and softness, as well as the balance of the skin's microbiota (bacterial flora).
The functioning of sebaceous glands is connected 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, corresponding to excessive sebum production. Hyperproliferation of skin cells. Proliferation of the bacterium Cutibacterium acnes, leading to skin inflammation, resulting in skin irregularities and redness. These three phenomena are themselves influenced by various interacting factors:
Sebaceous gland cells are sensitive to hormones such as insulin, IGF-1, and androgens. Hormonal disruptions can alter sebum production (both in terms of quantity and quality), clog the entry channels of sebaceous glands, and trigger inflammatory processes. Androgen imbalances, estrogen imbalances, puberty, and hormonal fluctuations in adults (related to contraceptive pills, IUDs, pregnancy, etc.) can thus influence the onset of acne.
The skin's microbiota, comprising microorganisms on the skin's surface, plays a key role in acne pathology. When the skin's 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 antibiotic use can lead to an overgrowth of Cutibacterium acnes and disrupt the skin's microbiota balance, thus causing skin inflammation. In acne treatment, it's important not to completely eliminate Cutibacterium acnes but rather to restore balance by favoring the presence of other beneficial bacteria.
Environmental factors also play a significant role in acne development, as they promote inflammatory processes and weaken both the skin and gut microbiota. Stress, lack of sleep, regular medication use, tobacco, poor diet, and use of unsuitable cosmetics are all factors that can contribute to acne development.
Genetic predispositions also play a role in acne occurrence. 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 skin microbiota from one generation to the next. Understanding the origin of acne is crucial to establishing an appropriate routine to rebalance the skin microbiota without aggression, regulate sebum secretion and composition, and reduce inflammation.
How to treat acne?
Just as our entire body requires nutrients to produce energy, perform functions, and eliminate waste, our skin too needs nutrients.
In the case of our skin, it produces sebum, which acts as a pathway for eliminating fats from our body.
This process occurs at the pilosebaceous follicle level, and if the composition of sebum is altered (too thick, inflammatory), it leads to the emergence of acne.
The liver plays a vital role in lipid management.
Indeed, our body naturally eliminates toxins through the liver, kidneys, and intestines.
However, if the liver becomes overloaded—meaning it receives an excess of toxins and can't eliminate them through the usual pathways—they will be expelled through the skin, stimulating the sebaceous glands.
Therefore, addressing the metabolic aspect of acne, often overlooked in dermatology, is important.
Though the relationship between skin and the gut is better understood, the liver's role as a "metabolic hub" responsible for managing sugars and fats is often ignored by modern medicine, despite being fundamental in traditional medicines.
Nevertheless, it's possible to have a lasting impact on acne by stimulating liver detoxification and carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.
This helps improve the overall state of the body, as acne is a sign of a deeper dysfunction.
Liver detoxification is a key element in acne treatment.
The liver's main functions include storing fats and sugars as glycogen, synthesizing lipoproteins to transport lipids, distributing nutrients from the intestines to organs in need, synthesizing coagulation factors, growth hormones, and vitamins (like vitamin D), and aiding fat digestion through bile. Liver detoxification sorts and eliminates toxins and waste from the body using enzymes like cytochrome.
Toxins can be endogenous, such as hormones (particularly androgens that play a crucial role in acne), or exogenous, such as drugs, tobacco, alcohol, pesticides, and other chemicals, including endocrine disruptors.
To promote liver detoxification and achieve lasting acne treatment, consider adopting the following measures:
Eliminate sources of toxins: Reduce or eliminate consumption of processed foods, alcohol, tobacco, and other toxic substances.
Embrace a balanced diet: Prioritize whole, unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods 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 aid 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 the case of severe or persistent acne, it's recommended to consult a qualified dermatologist or naturopath who can evaluate your specific case and provide a personalized treatment plan.
It's important to note that acne treatment may take time and patience. Results can vary from person to person, and it's essential to take a holistic approach, considering various aspects of your lifestyle and health, to achieve lasting results.
Note: The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. It's always recommended to consult a qualified healthcare professional for proper medical diagnosis and advice.
Source: Alaena Cosmétique, by dermatologist Dr. Sylvie Peres, co-founder of the brand
ALAENA COSMETIC'S ANTI-IMPERFECTION RITUAL
- Double Cleansing
Cleansing Oil: Gently cleanses the skin and effectively removes makeup, preserves the skin's barrier, eliminates impurities accumulated throughout the day.
Mango and Avocado Soap: The Mango & Avocado Soap: Through the cold saponification method, the soap is slightly basic, while the skin is acidic. This balance helps eliminate excess sebum, dead skin that clogs pores, and regulates the microbiota.
Mixed Skin Moisturizer: A formula concentrated with natural ingredients capable of reducing sebum peroxidation, the origin of imperfections, while deeply hydrating. Natural mattifying agents absorb excess sebum. The skin remains radiant and matte throughout the day.
- Anti-Imperfection Solution
Its natural composition offers a complex of flower acids and fruit acids for sebum regulation, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial action.
Apply it in the evening before bedtime to take effect overnight, then wash the skin in the morning.