Covid Breakouts – what is happening to my skin?!
These past few weeks I have had a lot of people reach out to me as they have been struggling with persistent acne breakouts on the skin (face, chest and on the back).
What I will tell you is that the change in seasons can cause havoc on your skin, and in my 20 years+ experience as a skin therapist, the seasonal change from winter – spring is always the trickiest to navigate. There are several reasons for this. Predominantly, we have spent a lot of time indoors surrounded by heaters that do a great job of keeping us cosy and warm, but unfortunately, they also deplete the skin barrier. Our skin barrier is vital in protecting us against environmental aggressors, mostly pathogens. When the skin barrier is compromised due to these pathogens, it can lead to breakouts, inflammation, and irritated skin.
Add to that a move into a slow transition of warmer, more humid days with extra pollens in the air, all of which stimulate oil production, and we’ve given rise to a perfect habitat for pathogens and bacteria.
So in summary, a depleted barrier plus external skin stimulants = persistent breakouts and inflammation.
Now, what we also must factor in at this time is the impact that COVID has had on our stress and cortisol levels. When we produce cortisol our blood is naturally diverted away from organs and delivered to the muscles – as the body is preparing to ‘run away’ from the thing that we are worried / stressed / fearful of! This lack in blood flow to the skin reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients being delivered to the skin – all of which are essential for skin healing and regulating. Bacteria are anaerobic – which means they can’t live when oxygen is present. So, it totally makes sense why bacteria can thrive in this skin environment.
Luckily the skin is an incredible organ that is designed to heal – and FAST if the environment is strong and supported. Here are a few skin solutions that help dramatically clear the skin during these inflammatory breakouts :
- Be kind, be calm
In our past blog Calm mind, Calm skin , we highlight the fact that our nervous system and skin have a synergistic relationship.
Our thoughts directly impact our nervous system which in turn reacts according to whether they are negative (fear based) or positive (happy based), creating responses in the body that mimic these thoughts.
Negative, fear-based thoughts create increased inflammation as they stimulate cortisol levels. Positive, calm thoughts help to sooth and settle the nervous system but also stimulate the production of good hormones that help increase the body’s healing abilities.
Daily mindful practices (mediation, prayer or just simply walking in nature) are so important as they give us a moment to catch those fear based thoughts and release them.
- Breath work
Science confirms the most magical way to switch on our para-sympathetic nervous system (the calm state of our nervous system) is through breath.
A growing number of studies show that by slowing down the breath and actively engaging in the flow of breath, we can help soothe the nervous system that leads to a reduced heart rate, reduced cortisol output and reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety anger and confusion.
Box breathing is one of the most researched and is possibly the easiest breath exercise that delivers the most incredible body response. It is used by some of the biggest presenters and performers to help get them into the moment and shift their nervousness before addressing large audiences.
Box Breath technique:
Just like the name suggests – equal lengths to each step creating a square.
- Breath in for the count of 4
- Hold for a count of 4
- Release for a count of 4
- Hold at the bottom of the exhale for a count of 4
- Avoid overburdening the skin barrier
Our skin may look and feel like it needs lots of things to help it settle during these inflammatory responses, but in most cases that can make it worse and slow down the healing time.
Reduce the amount of active product you are using on the skin. This obviously depends on what you are using but in summary:
- Reduce serums to once a day
- Use retinol every second day
- Apply moisturizer and then after about 30 min apply more if the skin feels tight and dehydrated
- Cleanse once a day. Use your Gua Sha with your cleanser as it helps increase blood circulation to the skin and eliminate skin toxins
- A great spot treatment that helps reduce inflammation and speed up healing is Dr Eckstein, AZULENE PASTE. No affiliation, I’ve just used this product on my clients during facials for over 15 years and nothing compares! It is brilliant at healing the skin spots and reducing skin inflammation.
- Diet & lifestyle
There is so much information out there regarding healthy food for the skin, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to believe! In summary, when you are experiencing these persistent breakouts, I would advise to:
- Increase water intake
- Increase Omega (EFA’s – Essential Fatty Acids) intake
- Increase Vitamin C and Zinc intake until skin inflammation settles
- Decrease caffeine intake
- Decrease sugar
- Decreased processed foods
- Eliminate dairy intake (until inflammation has settled)
- To move your body (walk, run, play…)
- Laugh- often
- To be grateful (even if its for the most basic things in life)
- To reach out if you need extra support
Please feel free to reach out for any more guidance I am always happy to chat with you (*consults are absolutely FREE of charge – I LOVE to help in any way I can).