Why You Should See a Dermatologist

What do you do when you have a problem?

Personally, I like to take matters into my own hands. I’ll think about my experiences and do some research to come up with an answer. If I’m still stumped I’ll seek out family and friends.

And of course, when it comes to my skin, I like to handle things myself. I mean, I have my own website, so I should be able to handle myself.

Not quite.

You see, about two weeks ago, I noticed I had some redness and inflammation under my eyes. I shrugged it off at first and wanted to let it take its course to see where it went. Things started getting worse, so my first instinct was to use cortisone cream.

Of course, the cream worked. However, the problem with cortisone cream, like Benzoyl Peroxide, is that it doesn’t actually solve the underlying problem at hand. It’s simply a Band-Aid treatment to temporarily mask the physical manifestation on the face.

I quit the cortisone cream and it came back, worse than before. I was stumped. I had no clue what this was.

I went to see dermatologist and he told me that I had some eczema possibly be caused by allergies. He told me to take some allergy medicine and provided me with a topical cream. He also told me that cortisone cream should NEVER be used around the eye (You learn something new every day right?)

A few days later my eye was back to normal. Had I never gone to the doctor, I never would have been able to figure out what was wrong.

Lose The Ego

Some of you may have too much pride to see a dermatologist. You probably scour message boards and forums looking for the answer to your woes in the form of natural and holistic remedies, yet oftentimes that doesn’t come.

The reason why you should see a dermatologist is because they are experts, and know more about the skin than people online including me, by far! Sure, Western medicine has its flaws, but still knowledge is a valuable asset which dermatologists have a lot of when it comes to the skin.

If you’ve been suffering from acne for a while, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a dermatologist. Perhaps their solution didn’t work out for you. Unfortunately that’s how things work sometimes, but at least you tried. At least you made the effort to expose yourself to a new set of ideas.

Yet, some of you may have never seen a dermatologist, or refuse to see one again. This I believe is a problem.

I really wish that we could cure our acne by just taking some over the counter medications and some heath foods, but that’s not how things work. Dermatologists have the skills and resources that we don’t and you should take advantage of that.

I know I may sound like some shill from the American Dermatological Association, but objectively I think it’s the right move. If you have been suffering from acne for some time now and haven’t seen a dermatologist yet, what are you waiting for?

photo: lexington dermatology

How to Get Rid Of Oily Skin

Oily skin was never really a priority for me. In fact, in my younger years with acne I don’t think I ever suffered from oily skin, and if I did I didn’t notice: Acne was my number one priority, no oily skin.

In the last year or two, however, once my acne began to clear, I started to notice the ‘sheen’ on my face that seemed to be there every waking moment. It was still an afterthought.

I was so concerned about the few spots on my face, that I ignored that extra layer of moisture on my face. It never occurred to me that layer could be what’s actually causing my acne. We’re going to go over how to get rid of oily skin, but first, ask yourself:

Do You Actually Have Oily Skin?

Instead of my skin being oily, I believe that the sheen coming from my face was just a perpetual state of my moisturizer siting on my skin. Since I used it twice a day, morning and night, it would always be there. There was no way this was good for my skin.

Since I stopped using moisturizer so often, this sheen has ‘miraculously’ disappeared. My skin is also the best it’s ever been. Coincidence? I think not.

If this sounds like it may be you than think twice about your products you’re using.  But maybe that’s not you, maybe your skin really is excessively oily.

What Causes Oily Skin

Oily skin is common among those who suffer from acne and teenagers in general. Oily skin:

… is caused by excess skin oil (sebum). During puberty, increased androgen levels, which are male hormones present in both males and females, signal the oil glands of the skin to mature. At this time the body begins producing much more skin oil. For some people, oil glands go into overdrive and the skin takes on an oily look. This oily appearance normally subsides to some degree after puberty, but can persist into adulthood, and is often seasonal, coinciding with humid weather. (Acne.org)

So in order to get oily skin under control, you need to get your hormones under control. The best way to do this is to see a dermatologist and have them prescribe you something that will calm these hormones down. Following this, check out the quick start guide and go from there.

While that should solve the problem for many, there are a lot of other factors at play here. Here’s a few other ways to get rid of excess oil beyond hormonal imbalances:

Use Cold Water

I take what are called contrast showers. You start out with hot water, and then switch to cold. Rinse, wash, repeat.

You don’t have to punish yourself with ice cold showers, but you should know that hot water is bad for your skin. It strips away your skin’s natural oils and can irritate your skin and further inflame acne.

So while I do use hot water in m showers, I never let it touch my face or hair. Only cold water.

Eliminate Any Outside Hormones

You may have heard that steroid use is associated with acne. This is a result of excessive androgens in the body, which manifests itself as acne on the skin. As you may know, dairy may cause acne, as a result of the hormones found in dairy.

Eliminating dairy is step one, but also try to eliminate anything that may influence hormones. This includes things like plastic water bottles and BPA products.

Stop Washing Your Face So Much

You may not be familiar with the ‘No Poo’ movement, but I’ve been doing it some time. What many people notice when first undergoing this is that their hair gets super oily. This is because when people normally shampoo it washes away the oils naturally secreted by the scalp, and forces the scalp to produce excess oil because of the oil always being stripped away by shampoo.

The same thing goes for washing your face. The more you wash it, the more you’re stripping away the natural oils and throwing off the delicate balance. I rarely use my Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, usually only post workout or pre shave.

Conclusion

Let’s recap:

  1. Find out if your skin is actually oily, and not just a buildup of acne and/or skincare products,
  2. Because hormones are the main cause of oily skin, see a dermatologist and follow my guide for additional advice,
  3. Take additional steps:
    • Use cold water, avoid hot water
    • Eliminate any additional outside/exogenous hormones
    • Stop washing your face so much

There you have it. Post any questions or comments below!

Does Stress Cause Acne?

If you asked me not too long ago whether or not stress could cause acne I would’ve laughed in your face. I would’ve then told you to see a dermatologist, take some Cod Liver Oil along with a chill pill twice daily.

It was a bit shortsighted of me to think that seeing that there was a tremendous amount of anecdotal evidence on the matter. However, when it comes to acne, there is so much that relies on anecdotal evidence so it’s hard to tell when someone is bullshitting or not.

The best way to understand skin and the human body as a whole is to do research for yourself. And as a man who hates science, I went to seek out science to help me settle the score of whether or not stress causes acne.

What the Studies Say

I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were indeed several studies/articles written on the topic from various sources. Let’s go over them one by one:

National Center for Biotechnology

“The aims of this study were to determine: (i) if psychological stress in adolescents is associated with increased sebum production; and (ii) if stress is associated with increased acne severity independent of, or in conjunction with, increased sebum production. “

“For the study population as a whole, we observed a statistically significant positive correlation (r=0.23, p=0.029) between stress levels and severity of acne papulopustulosa. In adolescents, psychological stress does not appear to affect the quantity of sebum production. The study suggests a significant association between stress and severity of acne papulopustulosa, especially in males. Increased acne severity associated with stress may result from factors other than sebum quantity.”

WebMD

“It’s probably not just your imagination, says Lisa A. Garner, MD, FAAD, a clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. “When you already have acne and you get into a stressful situation that seems to be when your acne really flares up.”

In other words, emotional stress won’t trigger a new case of acne, but it may worsen matters in someone who already has the skin disorder.

In 2003, a Stanford University study published in the Archives of Dermatology found that college students had acne flare-ups during exams, a period in which they reported more stress, compared to periods without testing. Acne severity correlated highly with increasing stress, the researchers concluded.

These researchers hypothesized that the increase in acne might be due to higher levels of sebum produced during stressful times. However, they found that psychological stress didn’t increase sebum production significantly in the teens, leading them to suggest that that acne linked to stress may involve other root causes.

These researchers hypothesized that the increase in acne might be due to higher levels of sebum produced during stressful times. However, they found that psychological stress didn’t increase sebum production significantly in the teens, leading them to suggest that that acne linked to stress may involve other root causes.”

The New York Times

“The study, conducted by researchers at Wake Forest, followed 94 high school students with mild or moderate acne for several months. Acne is generally associated with high levels of sebum, the oily substance that coats the skin and protects the hair. Because sebum levels are known to wax and wane with variations in weather, the study was conducted where the temperature and humidity rarely change, Singapore.

Using a standard measure of stress, the researchers showed that in periods of high emotional strain, like before major exams, the students were 23 percent more likely to experience breakouts. At the same time, their sebum production did not vary much whether they were experiencing high or low stress, indicating that levels of the substance had little or no role. Instead, the results may have more to do with inflammation. Other studies have shown that stress can provoke inflammation, and acne is an inflammatory disease.”

Putting it All Together

Based on the sources and studies provided above, the link between stress and acne can’t be denied. What can be argued though is the extent to which stress affects acne levels.

From what I can see, the findings show that stress is usually only responsible for periodic breakouts at times of heightened stress levels. It is unlikely that people who are suffering from chronic acne as a result of full time stress.

Possible? Yes.

Likely? Not so much.

The causes of acne can always be traced back to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and digestive and gut health. Stress likely falls into the hormonal camp, but again, its extent seems to be limited.

Despite this, occasional breakouts are nothing to scoff at, and these harsh breakouts can cause a lot of frustration. It is therefore important that we keep our stress levels as low as possible.

How to Keep Stress Levels Low

Stress is something that affects millions upon millions of people. It is usually a result of heightened anxiety regarding an important aspect of our lives. From the examples above, students who were focusing on exams had heightened stress levels. This comes from anxiety about the potential to fail said test. Whether it be work, family, relationships, money etc. all of these can cause us stress because of the perceived potential to fail or fall short at something.

Tackling this problem is beyond the scope of this article, let alone this website, but I will share some ways to lower stress levels that I have used personally:

Exercise

Nothing bets stress better than physical activity. A lot of people have excess stress bottled up because over time stress can manifest itself physically in our muscles and it create tension. If we don’t use our muscles to exercise than that stress will get nice and cozy in our bodies which is terrible.

I personally lift weights four times per week, do  yoga at least once a week, stretch and do mobility drills multiple times a week, walk all the time, and take an occasional jog. As you can see I like to move around.

Our bodies were meant to move, and when you don’t use it for what it was designed for our bodies, to borrow a tech phrase, “short circuit”. Not only does exercise help reduce stress levels, but it has numerous other health benefits for skin.

Eat Healthy

It’s simple: When you eat well, you feel well.

How do you feel when you scarf down half a pizza? Awful.

Do you know how I feel after drinking a big glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice? FANTASTIC!

Sure, junk food tastes good and it’s fun to indulge occasionally, but it’s terrible for our health.

When it comes to stress levels, diet is important for several reasons. One reason pertains to body image. Overweight an obese people are not likely to be pleased with the way they look. This will turn into anger and frustration, and in turn stress.

Eating healthy can also clear our minds and make our joints feel great, all of which contribute t overall health and stress levels.

Meditate

IT’s rare that people today just… stop.

Think about it: With smartphones, laptops, MP3 players etc. our minds never get a break. This is not how our brains were designed. When we meditate, we allow our minds to rest and take a break.

Not only that, but by meditating we can clear our minds. We can forget about the past and anything that may be troubling us and simply focus on the present moment.

Healthy Relationships

One of the saddest, and in my opinion pathetic, behaviors is to knowingly be involved in an unhealthy relationship. It’s truly amazing to see both men and women devote themselves to someone who has no respect for them and treats them with little dignity. On top of all that, this person is usually head over heels for their significant other and feels that the other is not reciprocating.

Or it could be that they are jealous of their partner. Or always worrying about what their up to.

Whatever it may be, nothing good comes from unhealthy, unstable and immature relationships. If you’re in one, it’s not likely that a few paragraphs will convince you to jump ship, but it’s something to think about.

Also, sex. Sex is good. Sex is great! Have a lot of sex because it’s hard to be stressed out after having sex. It also does a good job of balancing out hormones, which is essential for clear skin.

Therapy

There is an entire medical profession focused on helping people with their emotional and mental issues. If you feel like you need help then I suggest you seek out a professional as they will do more than a website can.

Quit!!

Do you dislike your job? Then quit. I did and it felt fantastic!

I was in a situation where I could afford to quit, but if that’s not your case then no, keep your job. But if it’s causing you that much stress consider other lines of work, or other places of employment.

Fun

Have fun, enjoy life. That’s what gives our life meaning.

Closing

So there you have it. I went off on a little tangent there, but a healthy mind is something that’s important to me, and important when it comes to dealing with acne.

Acne can torture us. It can cause anxiety, depression, stress and more. In order to overcome acne and fight it head on you need a clear mind. I hope you put into practice the methods above.

I hope that helps! Post any questions or comments below.

 

Does Red Meat Cause Acne?

Red meat is a staple in many American diets: Burgers, steaks and of course meatloaf. Most of us grew up eating these things, and likely still eat them today. I sure do.

Could it be possible though that the red meat we are consuming could be causing acne? To understand this we must first understand what causes acne.

Everybody wants to know what may be causing their acne. I’ve narrowed it down to a few main causes:

  1. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies
  2. Hormonal Imbalances
  3. Excessive inflammation (especially the gut)

Let’s go through these step by step:

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Having a deficiency in something like vitamin A, D, or Zinc are things that may cause acne. Having one of these deficiencies won’t come from eating foods; rather they come about because of a lack thereof.

While it is true that our food supply today is devoid of many nutrients compared to the past, red meat itself won’t cause deficiencies unless you eat nothing but read meat.

Hormonal Imbalances

We know that hormonal imbalances are one of the main causes of acne. It’s why it is so prevalent in teenagers.

So what’s red meat got to do with hormones?

If you’re not familiar with the process of raising cattle in America, cattle are injected with hormones and antibiotics as a means to make them grow and “stay healthy”. While this is not ideal from a consumer standpoint, it makes the most sense economically for meat producers. That’s just the way it is…

There is however another option and that is organic, grass fed beef. These cows are not treated with hormones or antibiotics and their diets consist of grass, as opposed to traditional feeds given to cattle.

While grass fed beef is definitely the better option, I firmly believe that consuming red meat a few times a week is unlikely causing your hormones to go crazy.

Excessive inflammation (especially the gut)

Inflammation is such an elusive concept for me. People like to throw around the term inflammation a lot, but the term is often used incorrectly.

However, it does seem the best way to describe what red meat may do to the body.

About a year ago I was on a high protein diet. While my diet was devoid of junk food, I kept breaking out. I was stumped.

I eventually switched up diets and ditched the excessive protein, which was consumed via meat such as chicken breasts and ground beef. Lo and behold my skin looked significantly better. It took me a while to pinpoint what had actually happened, but I came to the conclusion that my body was having a hard time tolerating my excessive meat consumption, which in turn manifested itself in acne.

The Great Red Meat Debate

There have been numerous studies about the effects of red meat on colon cancer. The mainstream medical community tells us to limit consumption of red meat to bite size amounts. On the other hand you have a growing movement of “Paleo” eaters who scarf red meat down like their cattle are going to be struck with a plague.

Like everything in life, we need to come to a happy medium. While red meat is tough for the body to digest, and excessive consumption of it may lead to inflammation, it cannot be denied that red meat is rich in nutrients like zinc and B-12 that may in face help acne.

The only way to know for sure whether or not red meat causes acne is to test it for yourself. Go at least a week without red meat and keep close tabs on your skin. Then add it back in and track any changes.

Resources

No Red Meat Diet Reviews from Acne.org

Red Meat and Colon Cancer from Harvard Medical School

Hormones in Food: Should You Worry? from the Huffington Post

Read Next: Why Dairy May Cause Acne

Why Dairy May Cause Acne

I tend to scoff at the idea that making a single lifestyle change is enough to improve one’s skin dramatically. I’ve made plenty of changes in the past with hopes of getting better skin, and there wasn’t one change by itself that totally transformed my skin. Yet, over and over again I see people on internet forums write something like:

“I stopped eating dairy and now my skin is great!”

Ha! If only it were that easy. It definitely wasn’t that easy for me, but maybe there is something to this. Maybe for some people getting rid of dairy is just what they need to stop acne. Let’s look at this a little further.

My Experience With Dairy

I try to no longer consumer dairy. I say “try” because foods that I eat in my everyday life often contain traces of cheese or milk. And honestly, is life worth living without chicken parmesan?

That said, the amount of dairy I consume is limited. You’ll never find me chowing down on a block of cheese or chugging a glass of milk.

Overall, I just view dairy as one of the least important food groups, and for many people it may have a negative impact on their health. Personally I find that I don’t tolerate dairy well. I often get stomach aches, bloating, and gas after eating something such as a few slices of pizza. I also don’t tolerate whey protein, which is a milk derivative, well. I would  get terrible headaches and nausea. If dairy was causing these symptoms throughout my body, it wouldn’t be a surprise that it may have been contributing to acne as well.

Why Might Dairy Cause Acne?

It’s only in the last few years that the medical community has begun to recognize a link between the food we consume and the acne on our face. One of the worst culprits is dairy:

“A 2005 article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology examined the diets of 47,355 women and found a strong connection between milk and milk product (like cream cheese, sherbet, instant breakfast drinks and cottage cheese) intake and breakouts. Another study, of 4,273 teenaged boys also found an association between milk and acne flare-ups.” (Doctor Oz)

On top of the studies out there, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that says that: Yes, traditional dairy contributes to acne.

But why?

When you think about it, the answer is pretty obvious. Milk is created in mammals as a means of providing essential nutrients and hormones to newly born animals. When you’re consuming a glass of milk, you’re drinking something that was designed for a  baby cow, or goat or whatever. Wile milk does have nutrients that humans can tolerate and can make use of, this milk contains hormones that are designed to proliferate growth in small cows.

Ya, really.

Does that mean I should give up dairy entirely?

As I said before, I still eat a little dairy here and there, but only because it’s found in so many foods. What my suggestion would be is that if you do your own grocery shopping, stop buying dairy products altogether. If you live with your parents or someone else is responsible for your food, let them know you want to cut back on dairy.

Keep in mind though that dairy is in many store bought products, as well as restaurant menu items. Milk and it’s derivatives are common ingredients so to try and cut out all dairy is going to be difficult. Just do the best you can to keep dairy out of mouth.

How to Replace Dairy Products

If you’re the type of person to drink milk everyday, fret not as there are many milk substitutes. I personally use and love almond milk, and have also used coconut milk in the past. Both are great options,although keep in mind these are a little pricier than regular store bought milk.

Note: Do NOT buy soy milk. Soy may even have more detrimental effects on your hormones than regular milk. That’s just my opinion, but I don’t touch soy with a 20 foot poll.

As for products like yogurt and cheese, you can look for some non-soy substitutes, but personally  don’t know any. One option you do have is to find raw or organic milk products. This is something I haven’t touched on yet, and don’t plan to because I know nothing about it and have no personal experience with these products. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on everything, so if you’re interested in learning more about the different types of milk, check out the links provided below.

Further Reading

Does Milk Cause Acne? from Clear Skin Forever

Eating Dairy When You’ve Got Acne from The Love Vitamin

 

 

Your Skin Care Products May Be Causing Breakouts

Have you seen those Epiduo commercials lately? The ones where the teens are using ridiculous  “home remedies” to treat acne. I can relate, I bet you can too.

When faced with acne, some of us will do nearly anything to get rid of it. Go search online for some natural remedies to see what I’m talking about.

Because acne is an issue that shows itself on the surface, it would seem that it would be treated by topicals. There an innumerable number of creams, masks, topicals, lotions, oils etc. that we are told that if we put them on our face, our skin will look better. I’ve tried more than my fair share of these and rarely did I notice a significant difference from these products. Actually I take that back; sometimes I did notice a significant difference, but for the worst.

Have you ever considered that maybe your skin care products may be causing breakouts?

The problem with treating acne as a “cleaning problem” is that it’s not actually an issue of cleanliness. Acne comes to fruition largely as a result of what’s going on inside the body. And because of that we should be more concerned what we’re putting in our body, than what we put on it. This is why the top items on my Products I Use are meant to be put in your body, not on it.

I’m not a dermatologist; just a keen observer. And for over a decade I’ve paid close attention to what works and what doesn’t and I can say that without a doubt that acne comes from the inside. Sure, if you touch your face, pick and pop pimples, or roll around in grime and dirt yeah, count on your skin reacting poorly. But for most people who do everything right with their skin, it often seems to go so wrong.

If you suffer from acne, take some time to reflect on your skin.

When did it start?

How have you tried treating it?

What made it better or worse?

From my experience and observations, acne can usually be boiled down to two main underlying causes:

  1. Hormonal Imbalances
  2. Vitamin and Mineral Deficiencies

Sure, for some people Salicylic Acid may be just what they were looking for, bu they likely only had a few blemishes here and there. For people who have more than a few spots on their face, it’s likely a result of the above two reasons.

Putting different products you bought over the counter will never heal your acne for good because your only attacking what’s on the surface. Essentially it’s a band aid for a much larger issue. Heal your insides and you will truly cure what’s ailing you.

Not only do these products usually fail to make a difference, but they often exacerbate the problem. Putting numerous products on your face can cause several issues:

  • Disrupt the ph balance of your skin
  • Cause you to have an allergic reaction
  • Dry your skin
  • Irritate your skin

There are only several topical products that do neither the above, and tackle the original two problems. Those products, however, are rarely found in your local pharmacy, rather you’ll need a prescription for them.

I bet your tired of trying a new product every other week from a suggestion from some dork on an internet forum. Read my Quick Start Guide and get your skin taken care of once and for all.

Oh and stop putting $#!& on your face.

In fact, for the next 4-6 weeks stop putting anything on your face that wasn’t prescribed to a dermatologist. I’m sure you’re freaking out because you just $40 on some snake oil, but in the long run your skin will thank you.

Instead of worrying about the next best product to put on your face, starting worrying about what’s going on inside your body. You won’t be disappointed.

Photo courtesy of epiduo.com