The real reason you get problem skin

Are you curious about what's causing your skin problems?

Skin Health Advisor
Ask Felicity

19 April 2012

Adult Acne

Acne is an inflammatory skin condition where excess sebum (a natural, waxy oil like substance) and dead skin cells block skin pores.

The tiny hair follicles may also become inflamed and infected by bacteria. Typical symptoms include blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, spots, boils and even cysts.

So, why do some people get acne and not others? Adult acne in women may be triggered by hormonal changes – eg: pregnancy, or taking the contraceptive pill.

Stress can also cause changes in hormones that can lead to spots. Acne is also one of the symptoms of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), a condition that affects 1 in 10 women.

Other symptoms may include menstrual irregularities, mood swings, weight gain, excess hair growth (on face and body), and fertility problems. For some people, certain foods may be a trigger, for example cow’s milk.

What can you do?

Conventional treatments for acne include over-the-counter products, antibiotic lotions, low dose oral antibiotics, oral retinoids and light therapy.

But, medications only mask symptoms and if you’re reading this blog it’s highly likely you’re interested in a more alternative route.

If you suspect stress is a factor, learning relaxation techniques may help – eg: meditation, yoga, flower essences etc. Or consider a herbal supplement such as Stress Daytime Relief.

Also, on a psycho-spiritual level acne may be a physical manifestation of suppressed anger and resentment. So, energy therapies such as body-work or acupuncture may be helpful.


Typical symptoms of atopic eczema (the most common type) include, dry, red, inflamed skin that is intensely itchy.

Areas affected tend to include the hands and areas next to skin creases, elbows, wrists, backs of knees and around the neck.

But, you can eczema anywhere on the body, including the face. If you have eczema you may also be affected by hayfever or asthma.

What can you do?

Conventional treatments include emollient creams, topical steroid creams and ointments, mainly used when inflammation flares up.

But, again if you want to avoid medications and harmful side effects, a better tactic is to avoid triggers that may aggravate the eczema – eg: fragranced toiletries, certain foods (commonly dairy and wheat). Itching is a big problem with eczema.

Keeping skin moisturized with gentle herbal preparations such as chickweed or calendula cream can help. There are also psychological techniques (eg: habit reversal) to help stop the itch-scratch cycle.

For more information visit this useful website –


Typical symptoms include raised patches of red, flaky skin, covered in thick, silvery scales (called plaques) and bouts of intense itching that can lead to bleeding painful skin.

Plaque psoriasis (the most common type) mainly affects knees and elbows, but can also appear anywhere on the body, including the scalp, face, torso and genitals.

In some cases, psoriasis can also affect nails and even joints. Basically, what happens with psoriasis is that skin cells reproduce too quickly – in 4 – 7 days, instead of 28 days. This causes a build up thick, scaly skin.

What you can do

Orthodox treatments include emollient creams, coal tar and steroid preparations (for localized psoriasis), vitamin D derivatives, oral medication and ultra-Violet Light therapy.

Alternative therapies that may be help include naturopathy, herbs and homeopathy. But, don’t expect a quick fix as it may take a while to get your whole system functioning more healthily. For example, digestion, bowels and eliminative organs (the liver and kidneys) may need some dietary or herbal support.

Poor skin health suggests that elimination generally is poor and may need to be improved.

There is also a strong link between psoriasis and stress. Elevated stress hormones (ie: cortisol) can make psoriasis symptoms worse.

So, relaxation techniques such as meditation, visualization and progressive muscle relaxation techniques can help. Also, try a calming supplement such as Avena Sativa (Oats). You may also benefit from psychotherapy or counseling.

Sun allergy

Do you get a red, bumpy, intensely itchy rash whenever you’re first exposed to the sun? This suggests you have sun allergy, also known as polymorphic light eruption, or more commonly as prickly heat.

What can you do?

Avoid staying out in the sun for too long, cover up with loose, cool clothes and use a sun cream with minimum SPF 25.

Most people find that after an initial couple of weeks, skin calms down and the symptoms go. Use a soothing cream such as calendula to calm itching – eg: A. Vogel Chamomile Ointment (that contains calendula).


Rosacea is a skin condition where typical symptoms may include a flushed, red face, dilated blood vessels, tiny papules and pustules, a stinging, burning sensation, possible even facial swelling and eye problems (eg: conjunctivitis and blepharitis).

Sufferers may feel very self-conscious. It’s not known exactly what causes rosacea.

There may be a number of factors – genetics, stress, hormones, tiny blood vessels that become leaky or damaged under the skin, abnormal immune reactions that lead to inflammation, sun exposure and reactions to certain foods and drinks.

What you can do

Avoiding triggers that make your symptoms worse can help. For example, these may include extremes of temperature (especially intense heat), alcohol, spicy foods, hot drinks and stressful situations.

All of these can cause symptoms to flare up. Try herbal creams that contain calendula, chamomile or capers (try the Kalme range, available in health stores) to help soothe red, inflamed skin.

Look out to for products from Avène, especially formulated with spa water for skins affected by rosacea.

A.Vogel Bioforce Cream | For Dry, Chapped and Cracked skin | Protects, Nourishes and Softens Rough Skin using extracts of fresh herbs | Contains Witch Hazel | 35g

Velvety, rich, nutrient packed cream that offers our ultimate in protection for rough or coarse skin …
More info

What's being asked

Why is skin so important?

The skin is the largest organ, and it covers and protects the entire body. Without skin, people's ...
Read more >

How many layers of skin do you have?

The skin is made up of three layers, each with its own important parts. 1. The  top layer of the ...
Read more >

Healthy & nutritious dinner ideas

Get new recipes in your inbox every week. Sign up now

Can’t Sleep? Take our sleep test for personalised results in under a minute!