85% of of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience acne. For men and women in their 20's 40-over 50% experience acne. 20-35% experience acne in their 30s.
If asked many of us would say yes, breakouts are normal. After all most people have gone through a bout of acne, mild or severe, from typical teenage blemishes to upsetting adult acne. But is it really "normal?" I would argue it is not normal, in that it shouldn't happen, but it is common meaning it does happen more often than it probably should for many people.
Acne is a sign, usually a first sign, that something is happening internally. The triggers usually being a poor diet and/or hormonal issues. Some may argue that diet plays no role in acne. From personal experience, certain foods can cause and make acne worse. For instance dairy is a problem for me. Not everyone is the same, however. So diet is something that you will have to explore for yourself. I do personally recommend a plant based, anti-inflammatory diet, which is good for your skin and every other part of your body.
"One study that gained a lot of traction in the acne vs. food debate appeared in the Archives of Dermatology in 2002. This research was based on the study of 115 people in Eastern Paraguay and 1,200 individuals in Papua New Guinea. The individuals in this study lived on a diet of self-raised lean meats and fresh plant foods, and scientists were astonished to record not a singular case of acne in either population. Based on this evidence, researchers concluded that the standard Western diet composed largely of starches and refined sugars might be a culprit between the high rates of acne in the Western world." from an article on www.bioclarity.com site. There are many other studies that make similar observations, such as the study done by Dr. Schaefer on the Inuit. He observed that the Inuit who once had flawless skin experienced a marked increase of acne around the 1970s. The Inuit themselves blame the acne for the change in their diets with the introduction of soda, chocolate, and candy. It only makes sense that a healthy diet is going to result in healthy skin.
Hormones, or rather hormonal imbalance seems to be the biggest culprit in regards to acne. When we hit puberty hormones called androgens increase. These androgens make the skin's oil glands get larger and make more sebum, which causes oily skin. This oil can clog pores and cause breakouts. When we, especially women get older we continue to have hormonal fluctuations. A woman's hormones fluctuate every month. Female hormonal acne is caused by estrogen dominance. You can get your hormones tested so you know if you have estrogen (more common) or progesterone dominance. If you have acne flares around your cycle that seems concentrated around your jaw or lower half of your face you most likely have hormonal acne.
There are many things that can cause a hormonal imbalance. Some of these include:
- Eating a diet high in processed foods, refined sugar, white flour, starchy foods etc.
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Medications such as prednisone (a steriod prescribed for many things inflammation related, such as lupus)
- Using forms of hormonal contraception, such as the pill
- Poor sleep habits
- Over-exercising, not exercising
- Substance abuse
- Using toxic products
- An overburdened liver
- Thyroid problems
So that may seem overwhelming, but the good news is that there are things you can do to help and/or totally clear up hormonal acne. Here are some things you can try.
1. Eat a whole food diet, meaning stay away from processed foods. Even if you don't want to go totally plant-based try eating less meat and more veggies, especially raw carrots, cruciferous vegetables, lemons, beets, and dark leafy greens.
2. consuming a medium sized raw organic whole (not baby) carrot every day actually helps detox estrogen. There is a fiber in carrots that binds to excess estrogen. Too much estrogen can wreak havoc, including hormonal disrutions, which cause acne. You should actually see some amazing results in only 3 weeks after eating carrots. So act like a rabbit and nibble on carrots every day!
3. Another way to combat hormonal acne is through seed cycling. Its very easy to do. You eat certain seeds during your cycle to balance hormones. I will write more about this in another post, but essentially you eat flax seeds and pumpkin seeds for the first 14 days of your cycle (the first day is the first day of your period). And the second half (15-28 or however long your cycle is) you eat sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.
4. Herbs and supplements can also help. If your hormonal acne is mild you may not need to delve into the world of supplements and herbs. I personally have bad hormonal acne in part due to lupus so I can use all the help I can get. I drink herbal teas that are known to help balance hormones. Here are some of the herbs and supplements that can help with hormonal acne:
- Chaste Tree berry or Vitex
- Red Raspberry
- Dong Quai
- Diindolylmethane, or DIM