What I want people suffering from acne to know
As a homeopath, acne is one of my favourite things to treat.
I know how depressing it feels to have horrible skin.
When I had acne in my twenties, the first thing I did every morning was to press my skin and see if I had any new spots.
I hated seeing myself in the mirror.
I felt jealous of my friends who didn’t need to wear make-up.
It seemed so unfair that other people could have clear skin without even trying.
Now, when I work with somebody with acne, I can really relate to what they’re going through.
And, with over a decade of experience, I know how to help.
What is acne?
We all know what acne looks like, but I think it’s useful to have some definitions.
Pus = dead skin cells + sebum + bacteria
Pimples = excess sebum + clogged pores -> blackheads and whiteheads
Pustules = clogged pores + bacteria -> raised spots with pus
Cysts = bacteria in deeper layers of the skin rupture cells around the hair follicle -> deep, hard, painful boils
Acne = pustules + inflammation -> cysts
How does acne happen?
- Pores clog with a mixture of dead skin cells and sebum.
- As oil collects behind the clogged pore, the bacteria naturally present on the skin multiplies.
- The body recognises this as an infection and sends red and white blood cells to fight it, which leads to swelling, redness and inflammation.
Which bacteria cause acne?
- Staphylococcus Aureus.
- Propionibacterium Acnes.
Resistant strains of these bacteria have been shown to be increasing and are able to change or adapt to the abnormal oil production and inflammation of acne pores.
How do hormones cause acne?
Hormonal change during puberty leads to increased androgens (including testosterone) in both boys and girls, which increases oil production in the skin.
Acne during puberty affects around 85% of teenagers and often continues into adulthood.
Androgen hormones fluctuate naturally during the menstrual cycle which is why pre-menstrual spots are also normal.
Acne is worse in those with a genetic predisposition to oilier skin and a tendency to perspire more easily.
Stress hormones can worsen acne due to increased perspiration and oil production.
The antibiotics cycle
Low immunity (often due to frequent courses of antibiotics) affects the gut and increases the tendency to inflammation.
In my homeopathy clinic, I often see a history of early and frequent antibiotic treatment in cases of severe acne.
Nowadays pretty much everyone is over-medicated.
We are treated with antibiotics for virtually any ailment, starting in early childhood, and this has created new strains of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.
In my practice, I often see a history of antibiotics that pre-dates the acne, often for throat or chest infections.
If you have breakouts in your teens, the first medical option is antibiotics.
This will often clear things up for a short while but can lead to repeated or longer courses. [Study: Acne and Group A Strep]
Many acne sufferers will find that their breakouts don’t go away completely, even with the antibiotic treatment.
The truth is, antibiotics create more problems than they solve.
The long-term impact is on the liver, gut and immune system.
There is also an emerging body of research that links acne, gut health and depression. [Study: Acne, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin-axis]
This is why young women find themselves struggling with candida and depression alongside their acne.
How I make an initial assessment
Homeopathy is a system of medicine that is individualised to the person. When I treat someone with acne I will always ask lots of questions about the acne itself.
- Where is the acne located, on the face, neck or body? (some people have it everywhere – as I did)
- Is the acne mostly spots, boils, blackheads or cysts? (some people have all of them – as I did)
- Are the spots painful?
- How long does it take for them to come to a head?
- How long does it take to heal after they have discharged?
- Do they bleed?
- Is the skin oily, combination or dry?
- Does it worsen during certain phases of the period cycle?
- How do you feel about it emotionally?
I use a system where we give each of the symptoms a number on a scale from 0-5 to evaluate how bad it is.
I repeat this checklist at every follow up session.
This helps us both to be objective.
I also ask for good photos, without make-up, in natural light to be sent in before each session.
When placed side-by-side the progress is always visible.
Homeopathy treatment for acne
There has been studies into homeopathy for acne, which showed significant improvements in the majority of cases.
The studies list the remedies that were used, but there are many homeopathic remedies for acne, and I select the most relevant ones for each person individually.
The remedies will often change from month to month, to ensure continued progress.
Remedies I use regularly include:
- Nux Vomica (a liver detox remedy)
- Sepia (a hormonal detox remedy)
- Thuja (excess oil)
- Silicea (pus and cysts)
- Kali Brom (purple or blue-toned acne)
- Pulsatilla (acne at puberty)
This list is just an indication of the different remedies I use. (I don’t recommend you try remedies without professional guidance.)
My approach also includes organic herbal blends for detoxification and to improve mineral absorption.
Herbs containing Berberine are especially valuable. Berberine is a natural compound found in a number of medicinal herbs including Golden Seal, Barberry and Oregon Grape.
Homeobotanical remedies containing Berberine are very helpful with detoxifying and clearing pustular skin eruptions such as acne.
I also recommend a good quality Zinc supplement to help reduce inflammation. [Related post: 5 ways zinc balances periods and clears skin]
FAQ 1. How long does it take?
This depends on a number of factors.
- How long you’ve had acne
- History of medication
- How severe it is
Most people who come to see me for acne treatment have either tried every medication already or want to avoid medication completely.
Example with teenage acne
In a teenager, with only a few courses of antibiotics in the medical history, and no hormonal issues, this could be a fairly straight-forward case. I would expect there to be significant improvement within six months on homeopathy treatment, along with improvements to skin-care and diet.
Example with acne and gut issues
If the acne has been treated with many courses of antibiotics, or there were a lot of antibiotics during childhood then there needs to be liver detox and gut repair. I would expect there to be improvements from the start, but 6 months to a year (ore perhaps longer) for the skin to completely clear.
Example with acne, hormones and gut issues
If there’s a history of the contraceptive pill or other hormones, there needs to be detoxification and hormone balancing. Again, I expect some improvements from the beginning, but this can also take a year or more, depending on how many years of the pill and whether there have also been antibiotics.
Example with Roaccutane
If the acne has been treated with Roaccutane, then there needs to be an extended period of gentle detox, especially if there have also been antibiotics, which there likely will have been, as Roaccutane is a ‘last resort’ medication.
FAQ 2. How many sessions will I need?
We need an initial consultation and two or three follow-ups one month apart initially.
After that, we can have check-in sessions and phone calls to evaluate progress, with a one-hour session every 2-3 months.
Because I ask for photos and we evaluate every symptom, you will know you are making progress.
FAQ 3. Can I really have clear skin?
Even severe and long-term acne can fully heal with natural treatment.
Once the skin clears we can work on the scarring, which may not disappear completely but can definitely fade so it is barely noticeable.
What I can’t do is wave a magic wand.
What I can do is offer gentle treatments, skin-care and dietary advice, and a step-by-step plan to help you heal your acne naturally.
If you want to be free of medication, harsh skin-care treatments, and the fear of waking up with new spots each day, I can help.
- Stop taking medication.
- Improve gut health with diet.
- Introduce gentle organic skin-care.
- Detoxify with homeopathy and herbs.
- Strengthen immunity with homeopathy and herbs.
- Trust the process.
“I never thought I could have nice skin, but now I really do.”
If you’re ready to heal your acne naturally, and you have the patience to see this through, I would love to offer you a free call so you can find out more.