You read that right. I had an infection in my body for 9 months and I didn’t even know. Let’s get to the back story. Around February-March of 2021, I started noticing some breakouts on my forehead and cheeks. I’ve never struggled with acne or skin issues in my life. I may get a few pimples on random occasions, but never anything more than that. When my skin started breaking out, I knew something was wrong internally.
Whenever you have any sort of skin issues, it’s important to look at the diet first. Things like eggs, gluten, and dairy are some of the biggest acne triggers. Because I was already both gluten and dairy free, I decided to gut out eggs from my diet to see if that was causing my skin issues. Sadly, this wasn’t the case and I was still dealing with cystic acne all over my forehead and cheeks.
I decided to look at my skin products, and find those hidden pore-clogging ingredients that might be sneaking around. Things like coconut oil, shea butter, xylene, seaweed, lauric acid, and algae might be in a lot of the skin products you’re using. I looked at all of my skincare products and changed everything to make sure the products I was using on my face and body weren't causing my breakouts.
When all of this didn’t work, I knew I had to look internally and do further testing. Because I work with various lab companies and do Functional Medicine Testing, I ordered a comprehensive stool analysis panel to figure out what was going on in my gut microbiome. When you have acne or skin issues, it may be related to your gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome plays a huge role in your mood, metabolism, immune function, hormonal balance, and skin health. Although I had no digestive symptoms, I had a gut feeling that something was wrong.
My results came back and showed that I was infected with citrobacter freundii complex, a bacteria one can get from a urinary tract infection or an external water source. Not only that, but my elastase level was extremely low, meaning I had some pancreatic insufficiency. If I had not done that stool test, I would have never known I had an infection because I wasn’t showing any other symptoms.
Doing other blood work tests tied everything together. My LDH (lactic acid dehydrogenase) level was elevated. This meant that I had some sort of tissue or organ damage going on. My blood glucose, which was NOT fasted, was 40 mg/dL, which meant I was not digesting the carbohydrates I had eaten with my breakfast. My white blood cell count was also elevated, meaning I did have some sort of infection in my body.
These results showed me that this infection went to my pancreas, where it stopped producing any digestive enzymes and wasn’t functioning properly. All of my breakouts were because I wasn’t breaking down any of my food, which made sense as to why nothing I did in terms of my diet or skin products helped. Anything I was eating, even if it may not cause acne, was affecting my skin.
I still can’t believe this happened for so long without me showing any other symptoms. This was because I took such good care of my health. If I didn’t care about my diet, lifestyle, sleeping enough, and managing stress, I would have had much worse symptoms. I know so many people out there might be struggling with their skin or digestive issues. It is always something internal and this is why I decided to become a Functional Medicine specialist! If you’re struggling with any skin issues, I totally understand and it can be fixed. It’s important to get some help in figuring out what internal issue might be going on and treating the root cause before masking your symptoms with things such as different skin products or supplements.
The last few months have been tough for me dealing with cystic acne, but I am so glad I finally got the answer. Since treating this holistically, my skin has already cleared up and my LDH levels are normalizing. I am so thankful that I am able to order Functional Medicine lab tests, such as a comprehensive stool test, and find the root cause of gut or skin issues for my clients. If you need some guidance on your skin or gut health, feel free to reach out!