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Holistic Acne and Rosacea Treatment

By: Barry Summers, MD, PhD
Posted: April 28, 2009, from the May 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
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A pharmaceutical-grade supplement program is one of the first recommended additions or changes clients should incorporate in order to see improvements with their skin. Patients with digestive problems—often an issue for those with acne and rosacea—experience changes in their skin by taking probiotics and digestive enzymes. These help to maintain a healthy balance of intestinal, digestive and immune support. Probiotics are especially important if your client is or has been taking antibiotics. The fatty acids in evening primrose oil and fish oil have been found to reduce inflammation when taken internally. Be sure your clients are aware that, in order to achieve continuous results, the supplements should become part of their daily routine, making them healthier from the inside out. In addition, some clients opt for a more detailed evaluation that can include testing for food sensitivities or imbalanced hormone levels. However, it is important not to overwhelm your clients with too much information at once. Part of the education process is to engage the client and work with them to be successful.

Pharmaceutical-grade skin care products—including glycolic cleansers and moisturizers recommended for skin cell turnover, and benzoyl peroxide to reduce inflammation—should also be offered. From a business perspective, home care products are great for increasing the bottom line, while at the same time providing clients with what they want.

On the surface

When it comes to healing the skin from the outside, an important component of acne and rosacea treatment is photopneumatic therapy, which utilizes a vacuum that gently loosens dirt and oil from pores in conjunction with a broadband IPL light that kills bacteria. Unlike other light therapies for acne, this treatment, which can be performed by an esthetician, registered nurse or physician, is very comfortable for patients. (Editor’s note: It is always wise to check with your state board to make sure you are operating within your state guidelines. Contact information for every state’s cosmetology board.

To prepare skin for photoneumatic therapy, glycolic acid should be used at home by the client for 7–14 days before the treatment to begin the exfoliation of dead cells from the surface of the skin. During the first appointment, the skin is prepped with a 30% nonbuffered glycolic acid, which yields the best results with the light therapy since the pores are open and the dirt and oil are more easily vacuumed. Photopneumatic therapy is acceptable to continue while on antibiotics, although not encouraged. This is not the case with all IPL systems, so be sure to check with the manufacturer before performing any IPL treatment on individuals taking antibiotics. Isotretinoin use should be stopped three months before the service.

Severe acne vulgaris. Severe acne vulgaris, which consists of nodules and cysts, is deeply rooted in the skin and does not respond well to the vacuum on this IPL. If the inflamed lesion is deep and severe, it will, when squeezed or vacuumed, burst inside the skin tissue instead of at the surface. This will actually create scarring instead of making the acne better. These clients should avoid the photoneumatic therapy; they will experience the most benefits from food changes, taking supplements and using the proper home care products.