Your skin is your largest organ and plays a vital role in overall health. Patrick answers some common questions about skin problems and how to solve them.
- What’s the solution for acne? I’m an otherwise healthy adult.
Given that your skin is a major organ of elimination and good barometer of your internal health, I would start by looking at your internal detoxification capacity and elimination processes – your liver and gut. I usually find a remarkable improvement in people’s skin from cleansing these. Diet-wise, avoid alcohol, coffee, tea, friend foods, excess animal fats and sugar. Increase your intake of water, fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and proteins from fish, chicken, soya and lean meat. Keep your digestive tract moving with a good intake of fibre from wholegrains, vegetables, beans and lentils. I would also recommend a good colon and liver cleansing programme involving herbs and fibres. Supplementing 20mg of Zinc and up to 5 000mcg of Vitamin A can help, although you need to limit your Vitamin A intake to 3 000mcg if you’re pregnant.
- Do you recommend the Pill for hormone-related acne?
While the Pill can help in the short term, it clearly doesn’t address the underlying problems causing acne. I would encourage you to look for those, rather than just masking the problem, especially given the health concerns regarding long-term Pill use. Even with today’s lower-dose Pills, women taking them have a higher chance of getting a blood clot and may also experience nausea. Hormonal changes, usually in teenagers, generate more oily secretions that block up skin pores. These then become infected. A diet high in saturated fat and fried food will have a similar effect. Vitamin A and Zinc deficiency leads to a lowered ability to fight infection. As a result, it’s sensible to eat a healthy diet of wholefoods; avoid fatty meats, too much cheese and fried foods, and have plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as one and a half litres of pure water a day.
- I’m a woman with acne on the jaw and neck. What causes this and what should I do?
This can be caused by low oestrogen. High oestrogen affects your sebaceous glands by making them smaller and reducing sebum production, making your skin less oily. Low oestrogen has the opposite effect, making your skin oilier and more susceptible to blockage and infection of the pores. Oestrogen also increases the rate at which the cells of the epidermis divide and reproduce as well as stimulates the production of substances which keep the skin well hydrated, so as it declines, the reproduction of cells does too, this ends up thinning the skin and making the skin become dull-looking. Natural progesterone cream may help, as your body can make oestrogen out of it. Ask your doctor to prescribe it. Excess sebum production can also result from a Vitamin B6 deficiency, so you may benefit from taking B6 in addition to a high strength multivitamin, up to 100mg. In the meantime, it would be a good idea to get your hormone levels checked by either your doctor or a nutritional therapist.
- I suffer from acne but am 30! What can I do about it?
Sadly, adult onset acne is becoming more common. There are many potential causes, from stress to gut bacteria imbalance. I’d start by looking at your diet and boosting levels of fresh fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Eat oily fish, as the Omega-3 fats they contain, far from exacerbating oily skin, keep the skin smooth and your hormones in balance. Cut back on refined or processed foods and sugar, fizzy drinks and alcohol, coffee and fried or fatty foods, and drink one and a half to two litres of pure water each day. Take regular exercise and think about ways of managing your stress if you feel overburdened such as a calming exercise, meditation or simply relaxing. Also, supplement your diet with a good multivitamin and mineral and take a course of probiotics that help to restore a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
- What natural products can I use for my acne, which seems to be worse in winter?
Aside from improving your diet, take a look at what you’re putting on your face. If your acne is worse is winter, it may be worth changing your moisturiser – many contain substances that block the pores. Dermalogica make an excellent range of products for cleansing and protecting your skin. The best topical substance I know of for acne is tea tree oil which has remarkable antibacterial properties. Studies have shown it to be as effective as the usual spot cream ingredients benzoyl peroxide, and it is widely available in chemists. Only use it directly on the spots as it can dry out the skin. Another useful cream is MSM, which contains sulphur, an old, effective remedy for skin complaints.
If you have other health questions, please make contact through our social media platforms and we will get back to you with Patrick’s insight.