Struggling With Your Skin? Dr Harry Is Talking All Things Acne
Tips from Dr Harry - could curcumin help keep your skin healthy?
- Written by Dr. Harrison Weisinger MBBS, PhD.
Acne is a common and extremely distressing condition of the skin - specifically, the pilosebaceous unit (a hair follicle accompanied by an oil gland). It presents as an array of clinical manifestations including, oily skin, comedones, cysts, and inflammatory lesions such as pustules (the things everyone loves to squeeze but shouldn’t!). While acne usually starts in adolescence, it can persist well into the third and fourth decade of life, and occasionally beyond. In addition to causing physical symptoms and long-term scarring, acne can have significant detrimental social and psychological effects. As acne-prone areas are highly visible, the symptoms can be severe, ranging from social embarrassment and shame to anxiety and depression .
Acne affects around 10% of the world’s population, making it the 8th most prevalent disease worldwide and is most common in post-pubescent teens, with boys most frequently affected, particularly with more severe forms of the disease . Acne is not an insignificant issue for the country: each year, doctors like myself see 3.5 million patients for acne  and issue millions of prescriptions for topical agents, antibiotics - not to mention the millions of pounds spent on over-the-counter medicinal treatments and private laser and skin clinic sessions .
So What Can You Do?
Acne is much more than just a few zits. Although many cases are mild, I have seen some patients that are so ashamed of their skin that they refuse to go out or go to school. And because acne can become chronic, the effects are long-lasting - particularly if there’s scarring.
Of course, parents suffer just as much and have often rearranged their whole lives - for instance, changing what the family eats or trying different medications and remedies - to deal with the condition. As a doctor, I am acutely aware of the psychological and social issues and tend to take acne seriously.
Dr Harry’s Top Tips for Treating Acne
#1 GP PLAN
GPs really are the experts when it comes to common skin conditions like acne. We see it every day! An action plan will give you details about what to do when your skin is flaring up, and what else to do to maintain it when things are fine.
#2 NO SQUEEZING
This merely injures the skin further, setting up an even greater inflammatory reaction.
Satisfying, perhaps but really unhelpful in the long-term.
Keep your skin clean but don’t overdo it. Try use non-soap skin cleansers, then a light irritant-free moisturiser/sunscreen (try a few, especially if using a topical acne treatment) 1-2x a day. I often recommend Clearasil or Proactiv.
#4 STRONGER SKINCARE
Use an over-the-counter topical treatment. Invariably, the best place to begin active treatment for acne is with a topical lotion containing either benzoyl peroxide 5% or salicylic acid.
Your GP is best placed to advise on the right course of action. Where there’s minimal inflammation, the condition often responds well to a retinoid (such as Differin, or as a combination with benzoyl peroxide, as in Epiduo gel). For cases that are predominantly inflammatory, an oral contraceptive pill can be a feasible option for women, or a topical antibiotic. Young men with severe acne often require an oral antibiotic in addition to a topical one. The last line of treatment, reserved for the most severe cases, is the drug isotretinoin or “roaccutane” - which has some significant side-effects.
All of the treatments I’ve just mentioned are only offered by prescription, so make sure to discuss them with your GP.
Curcumin & healthy skin
In one of ourprevious blogs, we looked at why inflammation is not great for our health. Research is growing rapidly looking into the gut-skin axis; which is the link between our gut microbiome health and how this alters our skin health (acne, dermatitis, rosacea and psoriasis).
One study concluded that with intentional modifying of the microbiome, probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics helped with the reduction of skin flare-ups; suggesting that keeping our inflammation levels low is important for skin health. 
Studies have found that curcumin addresses innermicrobial issues: the imbalance of pathogenic vs beneficial gut bacteria. Because curcumin is known to have significant anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and also plays a useful role in digestion, it could serve as a powerful tool to keep your skin healthy.
Stay tuned for next week's blogs.
 Uhlenhake E, Yentzer BA, Feldman SR. Acne vulgaris and depression: a retrospective examination. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2010 Mar;9(1):59-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2010.00478.x. PubMed PMID: 20367674.
 Tan JK, Bhate K. A global perspective on the epidemiology of acne. Br J Dermatol.2015 Jul;172 Suppl 1:3-12.
 British Skin Foundation (BSF). http://www.britishskinfoundation.org.uk/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=DAHfKofYgBg%3d&tabid=172. Accessed October 2019
 Palmieri B, Laurino C, Vadalà M. A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. Clin Ter. 2019 Mar-Apr;170(2):e93-e99.
Salem, I., Ramser, A., Isham, N., & Ghannoum, M. A. (2018). The Gut Microbiome as a Major Regulator of the Gut-Skin Axis. Frontiers in microbiology, 9, 1459. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01459 Accessed November 2019
Bereswill S, Muñoz M, Fischer A, et al. Anti-inflammatory effects of resveratrol, curcumin and simvastatin in acute small intestinal inflammation. PLoS ONE. 2010;5(12):e15099
 Toyoda T, Shi L, Takasu S, et al. Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Capsaicin and Piperine on Helicobacter pylori-Induced Chronic Gastritis in Mongolian Gerbils. Helicobacter. 2015; ([link](http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26140520)) Accessed Nov 2019
Dr. Harrison Weisinger (MBBS, Ph.D.)
Dr. Harry is the Medical Director for Truth Origins, and a practicing medical doctor in Australia. Throughout his working career as medical doctor, university professor, and scientist, Dr. Harry has committed his life to improving human health. Each month he reads the various journals and studies being conducted across the world’s leading universities and research hospitals to bring you the latest research surrounding the truth about plant-based medicine.
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