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Are Those With Chronic Hepatitis More Prone to Acne?

Nicole Cutler L.Ac.

November 10, 2009

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For some individuals, living with chronic hepatitis can mean having a face full of blemishes. While many feel helpless over their skin’s appearance, the physiological connection between hepatitis and acne suggests that those with liver disease do have some control over preventing skin breakouts.

Commonly referred to as pimples, whiteheads or blackheads, acne is characterized by small, localized bacterial infections usually on the skin of the face, neck and upper back. Although this skin condition commonly affects teenagers, there are other populations who are prone to dealing with an acne outbreak. Considering that a person with chronic hepatitis may not be able to effectively process toxins, many with this disease are not surprised that they are vulnerable to episodes of acne. However, the biological reasons behind acne in those with chronic hepatitis have little to do with filtering out toxins.

About Chronic Hepatitis

Chronic hepatitis is a progressive liver disease characterized by inflammation and/or destruction of liver cells. The most common cause of chronic hepatitis is infection with the Hepatitis B or C virus. Other causes of chronic hepatitis include alcohol abuse, exposure to plant and chemical toxins, a reaction to certain drugs and an autoimmune condition known as autoimmune hepatitis.

Although there is no guaranteed cure for chronic hepatitis, there are several strategies people with liver disease use to stay healthy. Some of the most popular strategies include:

  1. Eliminating processed and fatty foods from the diet
  2. Minimizing exposure to environmental toxins
  3. Supplementing with milk thistle to protect the liver
  4. Completely abstaining from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or doing drugs
  5. Finding a daily practice that relieves stress

Because all five strategies improve the liver’s health, each of these lifestyle choices can also reduce the likelihood of developing acne.

About Acne

Otherwise known as acne vulgaris, common acne is the result of the skin’s pores getting clogged with oil (sebum) and bacteria. This usually results in blackheads (open comedones), whiteheads (closed comedones) and pimples (papules or pustules). There are many potential causes for acne. However, most experts agree that the most common causes include:

  1. Extra Testosterone – High levels of androgens (hormones that surge during puberty and are precursors to testosterone) cause the oil glands that lubricate hair shafts to increase sebum production. If anything blocks that hair shaft, sebum accumulates behind the blockage. Since androgen levels surge during puberty, teenagers are especially affected.
  2. Bacteria – The bacteria that causes acne, propionibacterium acnes, is a common inhabitant of the skin. This microbe only becomes problematic when it gets trapped in the hair shaft. Because of how sticky it is, sebum accumulation attracts these bacteria into the hair shaft – a combination that usually causes acne.
  3. Stress – Although stress doesn’t directly cause acne, it does slow down the immune system. When the immune system is hindered, its soldiers just below the skin (known as macrophages) are less able to fight off the bacteria that accumulate in the hair shafts. Additionally, sluggish macrophages are slower to remove dead bacteria, which enables pimples to take up residence for a longer time. Consequently, stress exacerbates acne and slows the healing time.
  4. Liver Congestion – When an adult’s liver is congested, inflamed or has endured excessive scarring, it is less able to perform all of its duties. Since one of the liver’s roles is neutralizing testosterone, depressed liver function often leads to higher levels of testosterone in the body. Thus, those with chronic hepatitis are prone to having higher levels of testosterone, which is one of the ways acne can proliferate.

Chronic Hepatitis and Acne

Although anyone can have an acne outbreak, those with chronic hepatitis are more susceptible to these skin lesions. Based on the causes of acne, this is because:

  • Those with chronic hepatitis often have a congested liver that fails to neutralize testosterone. This hormone imbalance increases sebum production, which attracts bacteria and clogs the pores.Coping with a progressive illness without a guaranteed cure means that those with chronic hepatitis are often under a considerable amount of stress. Unfortunately, that stress takes its toll on the immune system – which inevitably exacerbates acne and slows healing time.

By practicing liver wellness approaches for preventing the worsening of chronic hepatitis, those with this liver disease can lessen the severity of unwanted skin eruptions. By reducing environmental toxin exposure, skipping food filled with chemicals and fats, protecting the liver with milk thistle, abstaining from alcohol, cigarettes and drugs and relieving stress, those with chronic hepatitis can assist their liver in its neutralization of testosterone – a feat that will help keep skin intact and healthy.


http://autoimmunedisease.suite101.com/article.cfm/autoimmunehepatitisi, Autoimmune Hepatitis I, Elaine Moore, Retrieved October 6, 2009, suite101.com, April 2006.

http://www.acne.org/whatisacne.html, Acne in plain English – What is Acne?, Retrieved October 7, 2009, Daniel W. Kern, 2009.

Werner, Ruth, A Massage Therapist’s Guide to Pathology, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, MD, 2005; 25-29.

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Posted by Nicole Cutler L.Ac. on November 10, 2009

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