The most common skin problem is acne. Unfortunately, it’s not just a problem for teenagers. In fact, rising numbers of adults develop acne even if they never had it during puberty – 20-30% of adults between 20-40 years of age experience acne and three-quarters of those with adult acne are women. It’s a problem that has psychological implications since it can affect self-esteem, body image and can promote social withdrawal and even feelings of anger, depression and frustration. In this article I will give hope for adults with a naturopathic perspective on useful treatments.

Causes and risk factors of adult acne

• Heredity
• Hormones and hormonal fluctuations
• Stress
• Medications
• Smoking
• Bacterial microbe imbalance
• High glycemic foods
• Illnesses such as Cushing Syndrome, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
• Cosmetics

Natural treatments for adult acne

It’s useful to try and determine which set of factors are causing or aggravating your skin. This may involve testing your various hormone levels, or reflecting on your medications, diet and family history. Some important nature-based strategies are below.

Dietary change

One of the most common factors involved in adult acne is excess insulin, often called insulin resistance, which may be a part of prediabetes or metabolic syndrome. Our insulin normally rises when we consume sugars and starches and then comes down to a normal range after a short time. However, when you have excess sugars and starches, then your insulin response may get excessive and there may be a point when your body’s cells actually start to ignore the insulin; so in response, your pancreas makes even more. Basically, one of the solutions is to reduce your starchy carbohydrate and simple sugar intake to a more reasonable level.

Supplements and herbs for adult acne

• Probiotics. A European study published in the medical journal Beneficial Microbes in 2016 found that when researchers gave adult-acne sufferers a probiotic supplement, their acne significantly improved over the three-month study. The researchers also sampled the skin before and after the probiotic treatment and found that the people in the probiotic treatment group showed molecular changes in how the skin tissue handled insulin.

• Vitamin D. A 2016 study appearing in the medical journal PloS One found that a group of adults with acne had half as much vitamin D in their blood and that when supplemented with vitamin D, improved their acne, particularly if they had inflammatory acne (which is more common among adults).

• Several supplements have a positive influence on improving insulin sensitivity such as berberine, olive leaf, vitamin B3, alpha-lipoic acid, zinc and fiber supplements.

• For women who suffer with premenstrual acne, liver and hormone supporting herbs can be helpful and may include artichoke, licorice, turmeric and vitex.

Lifestyle changes

An important supportive approach to adults who suffer from acne is lifestyle change. This involves exercise and stress-management; these are especially important for those who suffer chronic adult acne as these supportive approaches can help address persistent metabolic imbalances.

About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or