Connect the Dots-Your Guide to Acne Session 1

“The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well”-Hippocrates

Acne is something that almost every person has dealt with at some point in their life.  It is can be a very hard thing to deal with emotionally and can be painful as well.  Even as a medical esthetican, I am struggling with acne this week( it was my own fault).  You can see a picture below.  The reason I am broken out is because I had a little too much “fun” playing with superficial and high-grade peels.  I did too many within a 3 week span, and in return I threw off-balance of my sebaceous glands.(Disclaimer, I would never do this to a guest, please don’t be scared to come get a peel or facial from me, I was just “peel happy”)  So I feel like the best way to show you that I can heal your acne is to post a picture of my acne over the next couple days and posts, and give you new information on the topic of acne to help you understand why we have it, how it works and how we can fix it.  You will see through my methods that it is possible to fix acne, and that is preventable/curable.  My picture of what my skin looks like today (Thanksgiving) is below. I am peeling on my chin, have a scab on my cheek and near my eyebrows.  Also on both sides of my chin I have blackheads that I extracted that are healing.   I have to say this is the worst my skin has looked in over 4 years.  I have the type of skin people stop me on the street and ask “what do you do?”.  It is normally that perfect and glow-ey.  It is embarrassing for me to post these pictures, but I feel it is educational and an opportunity for you to see that acne is not something to be afraid of, it is just something you must have knowledge to correct.

Healthy internal function and balance is the key to clear skin.  To understand why we get acne and how it works you must first understand skin on its own.  Your skin’s surface is the “go-between” of the external and internal environments of our bodies, which in turn shows the health of our organs and mind/body function.  Our skin, in fact is the largest organ we have and serves as a protective covering to the outside world.  It is also a sensing organ, an oil producer, and is highly important when is comes to the process of elimination of toxins.  Our skin also controls the temperature of our body( think of running 10+ miles, your skin is what cools you down to some extent).  When you are warm and you perspire a process of very fast evaporative cooling happens.  When this process is continually happening on a regular basis ( evaporation and perspiration) your skin helps contribute to a balance of internal homeostasis.

I don’t think that most people realize how much detoxification the body does on its own.  When you perspire toxins that our body wants to get rid of are released through sweat, and you “detox”.  It has been said that people diagnosed with hypo-hydrosis( inability to sweat) are more prone to acne because they are not able to detox like most people.  Your skin is the place for absorption as well as release of toxins.  It is similar to the liver and lungs in that it has the ability to change toxins from lipid-soluble(oil based compound) into water based soluble forms which can then in turned be removed by your kidneys.  Your body uses your skin as a tool essentially.  It uses it to get rid of by-products of the metabolism most of which are toxic.  Your skin performs this process of elimination of the bodies toxic waste by sweating.  On the down side, if your body holds more toxins than the liver(detoxs chemicals, foreign substances, excess hormones) or kidneys(detoxs urea and ammonia) can efficiently get rid of, skin issues can take over( acne, anti-aging, dull skin).  Hope is here however, and there are certain ways that you can encourage the practice of elimination within your body.  You rid toxins by sweating,  so PROPER use of a sauna, and by proper I mean a short time and not on an everyday basis would be a good idea.  Also a good idea would be use of supplements and specific diets that promote quick exits for toxins that are stored in the body.

Here is the oh so fabulous picture of my face today, and below is a cross-section of the layers of the skin.

This cross-section of the skin is a good representation of where the sweat leaves your body when you perspire/detox through the epidermis( top layer of skin).  All the layers of the skin come together to make many different processes happen.  The skin is responsible for the functions of sensation( who would have guessed?), heat regulation, absorption, protection, excretion, and secretion.

Now that we understand how the skin functions on its own and the functions that it does on a daily basis, we can start to begin to understand acne.  Acne is a very involved topic and can be complicated based on specific case, and should always be taken care of by your esthetician.  Don’t try to fix acne on your own, almost 99 percent of the time you will fail.  You need an expert to look at what kind of acne you are dealing with, your habits, and what the best method of treatment is over whatever time period you are working with.

Acne(Acne Vulgaris) is an inflammatory skin disease that occurs around the hair follicle(skin organ that produces hair) and sebaceous gland (microscopic glands in the skin that secrete waxy/oily substance called sebum) forming comodones, papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts.  The most common place for acne is the face but we also have sebaceous glands in our neck, shoulders, back,upper arms, upper legs and chest as well, and acne may appear there too.  The disease is not restricted to any age group, and often adult acne can be emotionally draining because sometimes as a teen we are not as aware as to what is going on.  Acne can cause disfigurement , it is not life threatening , but often times leads to both severe and permanent scarring.  ‘The percent of adults who claim to have acne in general among total adults is 13% , higher among women at 18%, versus 10% for men.  Not surprisingly, among teens acne incidence is quite high, at 56%”-National Omnibus Survey 2005. 

There are 4 main contributing factors to acne progression.

1)inflammation tissue reaction( immune response)

2)Excessive sebum production

3)proliferation of  p. bacterium

4)abnormal desquamation process(sloughing off of dead skin cells)

Acne has no defining cause, however there are 4 main contributing factors that contribute to the skin’s imbalance.  Although acne cannot necessarily be “cured”, I know personally from experience you can treat and manage acne to a point where it is not noticeable to people around you.  This is my goal for any of my guests when we are treating acne.  It is almost like a vision from the first day I meet you and your under the light on the treatment table, and I “see” your face clear, and devise a plan as to how we will get there.  There is light at the end of the tunnel, it just takes a little work on both your and my part.

Not only through facial, peel treatments, microdermabrasion(depending on severity) and product regimen, nutritional guidelines and a balanced lifestyle can help contribute to a clearer face.  I like to call it the “dual-approach” which will address not only the actual acne on your face, the soreness you have, and clearing of the blemishes through different techniques, but calming your mind and body through massage to reduce your stress levels so you will tend to not release more of the stress hormone that can contribute to producing sebum(acne).  The whole big picture is about healing, treatment, and prevention, as a revolving cycle, and that’s what I try to teach my guests when we are working with acne.

Next post we will go more into depth of the specific contributing factors of acne (the inflammation tissue reaction, excessive sebum production, proliferation of p. bacterium, and abnormal desquamation process).  You will then further understand why these make for a not so “happy” face, and we will be further to ” connecting the dots”.

-Juliana

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