At its most basic the skin is designed as a barrier for the body, keeping the insides in and the outside out. It is our primary defence against environmental contaminants, which are increasing year on year. As a barrier it protects against bacterial infection, chemicals, fluids, pollens, and air pollution particles, keeping them from gaining access to our rich internal fluids. It is home to many immune cells that protect the body from environmental threats. We are only recently beginning to realise the extent of Vitamin D deficiency in the Irish population and the skin is one of the central organs involved in Vitamin D synthesis. In the presence of adequate sunlight, skin synthesises a hormone called cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3).
Your skin is your largest organ. It is custom made for you. In places it is as tough as leather (soles of the feet) and in other places soft and pliable (face) – thin around the eyes and genitals and thick on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hand. Embedded in the skin are blood vessels and nerves. It also contains sweat glands, hair follicles and oil glands.
Maintaining healthy skin is essential for our overall health. However, healthy skin can indirectly effect our mental health. It is the front that we present to the world and when it is damaged with skin disease or acne, we are self conscious, embarrassed and withdrawn. Millions of euro are spent annually on creams and potions in an effort to achieve flawless skin. However, beautiful skin is achieved by caring for it from the inside out rather than from the outside in. The food you eat is what determines the contents of what ends up in your bloodstream and what ultimately ends up bathing the skin cells. It is the single biggest determinant of skin health.
The other major factor to consider in assessing skin health is our individuality. Because we are all genetically unique, we process different abilities to process food and the additives and toxins we are exposed to. We all possess different varieties of enzymes and concentration of those enzymes designed to detoxify chemicals that can cause skin disease including the condition of acne.
Acne is the subject of this article. Put simply acne occurs when the hair follicles embedded in the skin get blocked and then infected. To the bane of many teenagers sebaceous (sweat) glands ramp up their activity when sex steroid levels rise at adolescence and the accumulated sebum blocks hair follicles. In some people that passes as they get older, in some acne persists a lifetime. Acne can have severe psychological impact on anyone and particularly those most commonly affected – teenagers and young adults.
Most of the readily available treatments for acne address the symptoms of the conditions, and while some offer temporary relief, the cause persists. Current treatments used extensively include skin creams and antibiotics; if these fail, Roaccutane (also know as Accutane/Isotretinoin). Skin creams have limited success with enormous inter-individual variation. Antibiotics can work for some but there is grave concern about the long-term use of antibiotics for the general health of any patient. Roaccutane has been used in this country for many years but was removed from the market in the US and other Western countries because of its toxic side-effect profile.
Modern medical practice is exploring the underlying nutritional causes associated with acne and using that information to develop nutritional regimes designed to provide a preventative therapy for acne. In my practice I assess the body fluids of each individual patient for chemicals that are known to predispose patients to acne. I use that information to design a personalised medical plan for the patient based on their metabolism. This plan will not involve any toxic anti-acne medication but rather aims to balance the individual’s metabolism to ensure that they do not develop the condition. This is the future of medicine and is at the forefront of leading medical practice
What could be causing your acne?
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Imbalance in Fatty Acid Metabolism
- Excessive Consumption of High-GL Foods
- Dairy Produce
- Gastrointestinal Flora Imbalances
- Nutritional Deficiencies