SKIN SERIES | Let's Talk About Toll-Like Receptors
One of the biggest questions that clients ask is “Why me??” They are doing all of the “right” things - reducing sugar and processed foods, increasing veggie intake, minimizing stress, and applying stellar topical products - and STILL breaking out.
Well it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room. Genetics. Because fundamentally we all have the same skin and the same hormonal fluctuations. Yet, our sensitivities to various skin stressors like androgen activity, junk food, and well, stress, seem to vary. What gives?
The answer may be found in our skin’s toll-like receptors (TLRs), which are glycoproteins responsible for initiating an immune response to a perceived threat. Burgeoning research is suggesting that TLRs are up-regulated in conditions like acne, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis causing a larger inflammatory response to triggers. Additionally, some research demonstrates the involvement of different TLRs in the development of different types of acne (e.g. comedonal lesions vs nodular lesions vs papular lesions). Interestingly, it appears that one mechanism via which topical ingredients, such as nicotinamide, all-trans retinoic acid, adapalene, and zinc seem to work is by exerting some of their action through TLRs.
It’s not all bad news and it certainly doesn’t mean that there is nothing that you can do. Once you suss out your triggers, you can do your best to avoid or minimize them. And even doing so, you might still break out from time to time. This doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong. Or that you need to change anything. Your skin and hormones are constantly in flux throughout your life so it’s important to remember that the skin and hormone-supportive behaviors that you are engaging in are more long game. They aren’t meant to be a quick fix. And I think we often forget that when we are constantly switching out products and changing up our diet in an effort to clear our skin. Those behaviors aren’t sustainable and often cause further damage to our already fragile self-esteem.
This is why acknowledging the role of genetics is crucial. Acne prone skin is acne prone. So stop beating yourself up and stop comparing your journey to someone else’s!
Still confused? Book a Clear Skin Coaching Consult or purchase a Skin Session!
1. Whitney Valins, BS, Sadegh Amini, MD,b and Brian Berman, MD, PhD., “The Expression of Toll-like Receptors in Dermatological Diseases and the Therapeutic Effect of Current and Newer Topical Toll-like Receptor Modulators.” J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2010 Sep; 3(9): 20–29.
2. “EDITOR’S PICK: THE ROLE OF TOLL-LIKE RECEPTORS AND ANTIMICROBIAL PEPTIDES IN THE PATHOGENESIS OF ACNE VULGARIS.” European Medical Journal.
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