1.) Acne and Hormonal Imbalance
Acne is often described as a disease involving the sebaceous follicles
and hair follicles of the skin. It occurs in people who have a genetic
predisposition; if acne runs in the families of both parents, three out of four
children may suffer from it.
Acne can occur at any stage of our lifespan. The primary aggravating
factor leading to adult acne is chronic stress. Unfortunately, not only
teenagers suffer from acne because of fluctuation of hormones, but adults too
can have breakouts, especially women.
One reason why adult acne is on the rise amongst the female population
is because of the additional responsibilities that have increased women’s stress
levels. The pressure to work outside the home to help maintain a steady family
income while also maintaining a functioning household is unique to this
generation of women in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Combine workplace stress with
household responsibilities, cosmetics that contain known skin irritants and
monthly hormone fluctuations, and you have a perfect breeding ground for the
formation of adult acne.
During puberty, peri-menopause and menopause, sebaceous (oil) glands
become more active. Pores can become clogged with sebum, dried skin and
bacteria, which causes skin to erupt into pimples, red blotches and sometimes
inflamed and infected abscesses. Acne normally appears on the face, shoulders,
scalp, upper arms and legs, upper chest and back. More than 40 percent of teens
seek treatment from a specialist for their acne condition.
Hormonal acne break-outs tend to occur during ovulation or the week
before menstruation. In those women with hormonally induced acne, when the
ovary releases the egg, it often is not able to completely release. When this
occurs, androgens (male hormones) are secreted in excess, and women develop
acne around the hair line, chin, chest and back. To correct hormonal acne, many
doctors prescribe birth control pills to stop ovulation. Today it is not
uncommon for children as young as 12 to be prescribed birth control pills to
control acne. However, there are alternative options. Nutritional supplements
can normalize ovulation and eliminate the problem at the source. Even mild episodes
of acne can lead to scarring, and these scars can be both physical and
There are various types of skin lesions: a papule is a
round bump that may be invisible but makes the skin feel rough like sandpaper.
A comedo occurs when an oil follicle becomes plugged with oil,
dead skin, tiny hairs or bacteria. An open comedo is known as
a blackhead, and a closed comedo is commonly referred to as a
whitehead. The temporary red or pink spot after an acne lesion has healed is
referred to as a macule, and several together contribute to the
appearance of inflammation associated with acne. A nodule is
another dome-shaped lesion similar to a papule, but it extends deeper into the
skin, causing the destruction of tissues that lead to scarring. Nodules can be
painful, as can cysts, which are filled with liquid. Cysts can be severely
inflamed and also affect deeper skin layers.
Food choices have been hotly debated as a cause of acne in teens.
Research from the University of Colorado is confirming that a diet high in
refined carbohydrates permanently boosts insulin and thus promotes acne.
According to Dr. Loren Cordain, sustained high insulin levels elevate hormone
levels, stimulating the production of oil that leads to clogged pores, bacterial
growth and acne. High-glycemic foods such as breads, cakes, sugars and soda are
major culprits in acne.
With the shift between male hormones and female hormones during the
menstrual cycle, acne lesions change. Synthetic progestins and estrogens used
for menopausal symptoms, supplements of DHEA, endometriosis, polycystic ovary
syndrome and estrogen dominance have been linked to acne. Other drugs such as
corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, iodides and bromides are also known to
cause acne, as are cosmetics that block pores.
2.) Acne and Adrenal Exhaustion (Stress)
The adrenal glands get very little attention in Western medicine, yet
they have the important job of secreting sex hormones and stress hormones that
guide reactions to stressors throughout the entire body. We have two adrenal
glands, which are comprised of two parts: the medulla and the cortex. The
medulla triggers the instinctual “flight or fight” response, including the
increase of blood sugar levels, the rate of breathing, cardiac output and blood
flow to the brain, lungs and muscles. The cortex produces hormones that are
essential in regulating excretory, immune defense, metabolic, mineral balancing
and reproductive functions. The cortex also secretes corticosteroids in
response to stress, and these hormones help us to cope with long-term stressors
by converting protein to energy. This energy remains available long after the
“flight or fight” response subsides. Adrenal exhaustion occurs when the glands
wear out from the continual production of the stress hormone cortisol and can
lead to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and eventually Addison’s disease. Most
importantly, adrenal exhaustion promotes hormone imbalance. The adrenal glands
and the thyroid are linked. If the adrenals become stressed, the thyroid gland
can produce less thyroid hormone and vice versa. Most people today,
particularly women, have some degree of compromised adrenal gland function due
Extreme hot flashes and night sweats, insomnia (you go to bed but three
hours later you are wide awake), environmental sensitivities, hypoglycemia, poor
concentration, low energy, dizziness upon rising, irritability, nervousness or
anxiety, shortness of breath, knee problems, muscle twitching, heart
palpitations, sensitivity to light, digestive problems or cravings for salt,
sugar, junk food or coffee.
To test your adrenal gland function, rest for five minutes and then take
your blood pressure. Stand up and immediately take another blood pressure
reading. If the reading is lower when you are standing than when you are
resting, you can suspect decreased adrenal gland function.
Sustained periods of high stress lead to chronic elevation of the stress hormone cortisol, which research now links to bone loss, compromised immune function, acne, chronic fatigue, exhaustion, fat accumulation, infertility and memory loss. During menopause, the workload of the adrenals also increases as these glands produce the primary of sex hormones, including estrogen. For women, particularly, those who come from a full-time job to care for their families, cortisol remains elevated in the evening when it naturally should subside to allow the onset of sleep. Call Nell Laser Clinic at 416-228-0011 to book a complementary consultation session for acne and acne scars treatments and advise.