by Deanne Apostolou
Prior to commencing my studies in Herbal Medicine I was a Beauty
Therapist for 10 years. I saw a significant amount of clients with acne
during this time. In fact, this was part of the reason why I began
studying, I wanted to help my clients with their skin issues from the
inside as well as the outside.
What is a pimple?
Our skin has a top layer called the epidermis. The epidermis contains
hair follicles, tiny arteries and veins, sweat glands, and sebaceous glands,
also known as oil glands. Our body naturally produces oils that are
secreted through the oil glands that are often connected to the hair
follicle. When the oil becomes mixed with dirt and debris from the top
of skin, white blood cells come up to the surface to destroy the
bacteria and the pore becomes infected, underneath a very fine covering
What is a blackhead?
A blackhead is the same oil, dirt and debris that collects in the hair follicle, however, there is no fine layer of skin over the top. The dirt and debris are oxidized and therefore turns black on the surface, but is often a creamy, white colour underneath.
What is acne?
Acne (Acne vulgaris) is when there are several, frequent breakouts of pimples all at once.
The best advice I can give you if you have a skin condition is DON’T TOUCH!
The bacteria from the pimple gets under your fingernails & then spreads & infects the other pores in surrounding areas. Have you ever noticed how when you pop one pimple, another comes up next to it??
How & why do hormones affect our skin?
Sebaceous glands in the skin produce oil. The production of oil can be stimulated by hormones – specifically androgens and additionally other sex hormones. Our hormones need to be specific ratio at certain times of the month as well as certain times of hormonal change. When these hormonal ratios are out of balance, a range of issues can occur, including skin problems.
What can I do?
By eating lots of healthy home-cooked meals that include fresh fruit & vegetables, avoiding refined sugars & processed foods, and drinking 1-2L of water daily, you can minimise the severity of acne. Daily exercise, safe sun exposure & swimming in the ocean water can also be beneficial. For back & chest acne, wearing cotton clothing can minimise irritation. Cleansing your skin – face, back & chest – after sweating or working around oils, can help to prevent the pores from clogging.
Who can help?
There are many different herbs that a herbalist/naturopath can recommend that can help those with skin problems. It’s important to address the possible underlying issues of hormonal imbalance, stress, & lymphatic detoxification, as well as skin healing, nutritional and lifestyle advice.
Dandelion Tea can be helpful as it supports the liver and kidneys to clear toxins from the body.
A blend of Chamomile & Rosehip tea to help relieve stress will have a domino effect on the skin.
Licorice tea is another great tasting herbal tea that will support the body’s stress response as well clearing toxins from the blood.
There is a possibility that your skin could get worse before it gets better, which is why it’s important to see a qualified practitioner so they can help your monitor your progress, change your treatment protocol as necessary & guide you through any problems that may arise. There is a possibility that your skin could get worse before it gets better