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Why is my skin better when I'm SICK! Autoimmunity, Acne, Inflammation

by (824)
Updated about 6 hours ago
Created May 01, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Background: I've had acne since I was a teen due to inflammation. For as long as I can remember I've had easily irritated skin, keratosis pilaris and slow healing wounds than often turn into scars. Since going autoimmune Paleo as per Robb Wolf my skin has improved but I must be very vigilant in my food choices and still suffer from these skin problems.

The only time I ever felt normal in my skin was when I was giving a course of prednisone for a couple of weeks to help treat an isolated attack of bronchitis. When on the prednisone, my acne disappeared overnight, old scars started to fade and cuts and scrapes on my legs healed up. Prednisone is a strong anti-inflammatory but also an immune suppressor. Most people put on prednisone report the opposite effect on skin. It seems people on a high dose for a short term usually break out.

The strange thing is that I currently have a common cold and my skin has been clearing up. This seems to be a common occurrence and I can honestly say that my skin is the best when I'm sick.

Could the result of an over-active immune system be causing my inflammation? Since my immune system is trying to rid my body of this cold virus it is no longer attacking my skin thus resulting in a better complexion?

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268 · May 01, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Good to hear you've almost gotten rid of it! I haven't seen evidence of b-carotene being a useful source of vitA. Also not a fan of fish oil but if you feel like experimenting try eating 4oz of liver, safe starch(50-100g) and your daily dose of d3 and gauge results. In my experiences with eczema (if I consume dairy for an extended period) it flairs up - however if I eat a bunch of carbs (starch) and take vitamin D (4k IU) it evaporates over night. (I eat beef liver 1-2 times a week for Vit A). In regard to the carbs - helps the thyroid out which helps everything out. Report back if you try :)

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3850 · May 01, 2012 at 8:41 PM

I did also see a reduction in eczema when I started supplementing with Vitamin D 3 or so years ago.

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3850 · May 01, 2012 at 8:37 PM

The eczema has plagued me my entire life. Elimniating gluten and nightshades and coffee, and greatly reducing my dairy and chocolate intake has knocked it down 90 - 95% depending on the day. I've been working on healing my gut to try and deal with the last 5 - 10%. Though it's been an awful thing to have, I try to view it as a visible barometer of my autoimmunity.

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3850 · May 01, 2012 at 8:34 PM

I am well supplied with Vitamin D. Vitamin A, I get a significant amount of beta-carotene with my mulitivitamin, but I know some people aren't good converters. I also take Carlsons Cod Liver oil, which is a lower Vitamin A oil, about 50% of the time. I wouln't be surprised if I weren't gettng quite enough, but I don't want to take too much.

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268 · May 01, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Do you have a good source of retinol and vit D in your diet? If not, when you do have a fever you use very large amounts of them (A in particular), and if you're deficient, that alone can account for your acne in such a situation. I would also be worried about that eczema - In my experience it is caused by antigen specific immunity. Vitamin D may be a huge help.

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268 · May 01, 2012 at 7:17 PM

FCLO does my body no good. Any "isolated" omega -3 oils in general (but especially FCLO) cause me skin issues. Try eating liver instead.. Though with that said, I don't believe this is the root of the problem. It may control your symptoms but not address the underlying issue.

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268 · May 01, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Well there is a connection - sebaceous glands are controlled by hormones. However, you can have oily skin and no acne. I used to believe it was strictly hormone related, but I now think it's too narrow minded. There is another issue (immune system related) that is allowing that bacteria naturally on the skin to get out of control.

Medium avatar
10653 · May 01, 2012 at 7:07 PM

"I don't think acne has anything to do with hormones"?? Acne has *a lot* to do with hormones!

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824 · May 01, 2012 at 7:01 PM

I take Green Pasture Fermented Cod liver oil everyday.

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3850 · May 01, 2012 at 6:53 PM

If you were a woman, you would know that acne is at least somewhat effected by hormones.

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268 · May 01, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Points directly to digestive health. The food you're eating is not digesting properly (no matter how healthy it is) and putting a burden on your immune system - increasing inflammation and allowing infection to grow.

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134 · May 01, 2012 at 5:16 PM

My face (and acne) looks better after throwing up (when I'm sick) Looks less inflamed.

Thought it could be some gut issue. Can anyone shed a light on this as well?

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578 · August 25, 2013 at 5:55 PM

If your condition responds to Prednisone, more than likely, it's due to autoimmunity. It's an immune atack. Are you gluten and dairy free? I would at least get rid of those two items at minimum.

Another aspect of Prenisone has to do with its steroid aspect. It actually thins the skin in some, makes people look younger, and in the process could clear up certain skin complexion issues. But I haven't heard of wounds or other problems clearing up. To the contrary, you could become more susceptible to cuts and bruises and more sensitive to water. It's known as "Prednisone skin" and sometimes gets confused with Scleroderma symptoms, which also could make your skin paper-thin, making your face look like wearing a mask.

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0 · August 25, 2013 at 7:44 AM

Ok I'm a little late on this one but the same thing happened with me and predisones I was prescribed it for for 2 weeks and had the most beautiful complection in my life right after I went off my skin was angry and terrible looking for a full weekl now its still red and flaky and I wish I could ingest predisones forever but because it surpresses the immune system it also surpresses histamines which allows your body not to see something as an invader ,,I have had terrible allergies I only sneezed twice while on predisones ,,compared to 20-100 times a day before ,,I think it was definetly the predisones that cleared your skin

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0 · May 08, 2013 at 6:35 PM

Hormones has everything to do with acne. I took prednisolone and my acne cleared up. It was like i was in someone's elses skin

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0 · December 11, 2012 at 1:25 PM

I have also keratosis pilaris and now when I've been sick for 3 days, my skin looks very good! It's so amazing! I have been sleeping more than normaly, eating less and haven't even washed my face that often than usually. My guess is that it must be the diet. I guess some ingredient usually poisons me and makes my skin sick. Now when I've been ill, I haven't been eating so much, so my body doesn't get that "poison" that much either. I don't have a clue about what poison is. It could be milk, wheat, anything. Though tests say that I don't have lactose intolerance nor celiac desease. So I don't know. That's why I came here to find some information. Sorry if there are some grammar mistakes. English is not my mother language.

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3850 · May 01, 2012 at 6:52 PM

I have an opposite experice with acne. If I get a fever, I tend to immediately break out with several zits.

On the other hand, my eczema always got a lot better when I was sick. I never knew why, but hypothesized that it was because I was eating less and sleeping more. But I wouldn't be surprised if there were more immune pathways involved.

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268 · May 01, 2012 at 10:00 PM

Good to hear you've almost gotten rid of it! I haven't seen evidence of b-carotene being a useful source of vitA. Also not a fan of fish oil but if you feel like experimenting try eating 4oz of liver, safe starch(50-100g) and your daily dose of d3 and gauge results. In my experiences with eczema (if I consume dairy for an extended period) it flairs up - however if I eat a bunch of carbs (starch) and take vitamin D (4k IU) it evaporates over night. (I eat beef liver 1-2 times a week for Vit A). In regard to the carbs - helps the thyroid out which helps everything out. Report back if you try :)

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e
3850 · May 01, 2012 at 8:41 PM

I did also see a reduction in eczema when I started supplementing with Vitamin D 3 or so years ago.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e
3850 · May 01, 2012 at 8:37 PM

The eczema has plagued me my entire life. Elimniating gluten and nightshades and coffee, and greatly reducing my dairy and chocolate intake has knocked it down 90 - 95% depending on the day. I've been working on healing my gut to try and deal with the last 5 - 10%. Though it's been an awful thing to have, I try to view it as a visible barometer of my autoimmunity.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e
3850 · May 01, 2012 at 8:34 PM

I am well supplied with Vitamin D. Vitamin A, I get a significant amount of beta-carotene with my mulitivitamin, but I know some people aren't good converters. I also take Carlsons Cod Liver oil, which is a lower Vitamin A oil, about 50% of the time. I wouln't be surprised if I weren't gettng quite enough, but I don't want to take too much.

4dda29dc4fbada49bd68a6fbd76bf40c
268 · May 01, 2012 at 7:47 PM

Do you have a good source of retinol and vit D in your diet? If not, when you do have a fever you use very large amounts of them (A in particular), and if you're deficient, that alone can account for your acne in such a situation. I would also be worried about that eczema - In my experience it is caused by antigen specific immunity. Vitamin D may be a huge help.

Medium avatar
0
2291 · May 01, 2012 at 6:37 PM

I have noticed the longer I go without eating the better my skin is. Like if I just get busy and don't eat as much for a couple days, it clears up. I am confused.

4dda29dc4fbada49bd68a6fbd76bf40c
268 · May 01, 2012 at 6:43 PM

Points directly to digestive health. The food you're eating is not digesting properly (no matter how healthy it is) and putting a burden on your immune system - increasing inflammation and allowing infection to grow.

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268 · May 01, 2012 at 6:23 PM

I don't think acne has anything to do with hormones - in personal experience anyways. If any hormone is the culprit it is estrogen and that just accounts for oily skin.

Personally I believe what has happened is when you are sick, your metabolic rate increases as well as your temperature thus protecting your body from infection. Oily skin doesn't cause acne you must have a compromised immune system for the bacteria(infection) to grow.

Personally I would pin acne down to digestive health alone. Bacterial overgrowth in the digestive tract in particular. Vitamin A/D is needed to fight infection - are you getting any from liver?

4dda29dc4fbada49bd68a6fbd76bf40c
268 · May 01, 2012 at 7:17 PM

FCLO does my body no good. Any "isolated" omega -3 oils in general (but especially FCLO) cause me skin issues. Try eating liver instead.. Though with that said, I don't believe this is the root of the problem. It may control your symptoms but not address the underlying issue.

4dda29dc4fbada49bd68a6fbd76bf40c
268 · May 01, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Well there is a connection - sebaceous glands are controlled by hormones. However, you can have oily skin and no acne. I used to believe it was strictly hormone related, but I now think it's too narrow minded. There is another issue (immune system related) that is allowing that bacteria naturally on the skin to get out of control.

Medium avatar
10653 · May 01, 2012 at 7:07 PM

"I don't think acne has anything to do with hormones"?? Acne has *a lot* to do with hormones!

A96720eb77be29f27f198654fecd8f3c
824 · May 01, 2012 at 7:01 PM

I take Green Pasture Fermented Cod liver oil everyday.

F0e558010a2ecb31fa37b7c491596b8e
3850 · May 01, 2012 at 6:53 PM

If you were a woman, you would know that acne is at least somewhat effected by hormones.

Medium avatar
0
10653 · May 01, 2012 at 5:16 PM

You could be right. I don't know if there's any scientific proof behind this but yeah, your immune system could be busy off utilizing more resources to fight off the cold rather than your acne.

I suffered from horrible acne but since switching to Paleo, my skin has really cleared up. So I've done a bunch of research on acne back in the day and I totally forgot where I saw this but one of the (many) causes of acne is high testosterone levels. And I've read that some people think that when you get sick, your testosterone levels decrease, so your skin clears up. I can't find any literature on this though.

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