Acne can be a difficult condition to treat and can be hard on your mental health. You may find yourself spending hundreds of dollars on different skin products, facials, or other treatments, with little success. I find using a multifaceted approach can give the most success.


Internal environment: A 3 step approach to acne.

I like to use a triangle as an analogy when treating acne. There are 3 corners to a triangle, and each corner can play a role in the pathology and treatment of acne.



#1 Inflammation

Inflammation is not great in general, but especially not great for acne. Finding the driver of your inflammation is the first step. Often I find this food-related. This makes sense because about 70% of your entire body’s immune system sits right behind your gut lining, making your diet or gut health a major driver for inflammation.

Food triggers like dairy and sugar can be big players. However, I’ve also seen surprise food sensitivities, like spinach, be the root cause. To be clear, the take-home here is not to eliminate spinach! Rather, it’s figuring out what the driver of your inflammation is. Testing can be a helpful tool here.

#2 Hormone Balance

Hormones can directly impact acne. We have hormone receptors on our skin that influence sebum production. Excess sebum can result in bacteria build-up, location inflammation, and acne. Hormones that can be drivers of acne include testosterone, estrogen, cortisol, and insulin.

Do hormone imbalances trigger your acne? And which ones? A thorough assessment of your case can give us a lot of helpful information. If there are things missing, we come up with a strategic plan for testing that helps us tailor our plan.



#3 Nutritional deficiencies

Certain nutrients can be essential for the health and maintenance of the skin. There are some pretty great nutrients that optimize skin turnover, collagen production, and a healthy skin barrier. Some heavy hitters include Omega 3, zinc, vitamin C, glutathione, and Vitamin A.

Not every nutrient is indicated for every acne case. Figuring out which ones make the most sense for you is part of the assessment process.


What about the external environment?

What we put on our body and face is just as important as our internal environment. Additionally, shifting the internal environment can take some time. Pairing your internal with the external can often help shift things quicker. Some considerations:

Clean topical products

You go to the beauty center or Sephora and you’re immediately bombarded with all the different products and options. Anyone else feels overwhelmed by a similar situation? It’s overwhelming, expensive, and sometimes ineffective. Certain products can be acne-promoting- we want to minimize this. Other products can be excellent for acne management. Keep it simple and keep it clean – that’s my rule of thumb.

Cold laser therapy

Cold laser is an amazing technology that supports healing, blood flow, lowering inflammation, and changing the behavior of the skin cells. It can also help with skin rejuvenation and minimize scarring. It’s non-invasive, and excellent adjunctive treatment. Click here to learn more.


Our skin is an organ of elimination. Many times, when things manifest on the skin, it can be a sign of internal inflammation or imbalances. It can feel like you’re doing all the right things and still having a frustrating acne experience with no results. This is where a deeper investigation and tailored plan can be supportive.


In Health,

Dr. Ashley Damm, ND
Naturopathic Doctor – Vancouver, BC

naturopath vancouver