Whether you realize it or not, your liver is more than just the organ that processes those yummy mimosas we sip on at brunch. It’s one of the most important vital organs in your body when it comes to your overall health, and when it goes awry, things can start to head south for you fairly quickly.
As the toxin processing plant of your system, your liver’s job is to filter out everything icky and questionable that tries to infiltrate your body. It’s also a vital player in hormone filtration and has a major role in estrogen metabolism.
While it does process out alcohol (and other things like tylenol) sugar can also be incredibly taxing to your liver, as can environmental pollutants from the world around you. So, what does this mean for you and your healthy lifestyle?
It means that taking good care of your liver is more than skipping that nightly glass of wine or doing a random “liver cleanse.” It’s a fairly holistic process, and failing to do so can have major repercussions on your skin cells. In fact, it can lead to some permanent scarring if not addressed pretty quickly, since liver health and acne kinda go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Curious to learn more about what your liver has to do with that current breakout on your face or body? Want to learn more about how to ditch your acne and banish those spots once and for all, but without resorting to a potentially dangerous acne medication? Keep reading, friends, as we have the inside scoop on all things related to your liver and acne breakouts.
How is the Liver Related to the Skin?
As mentioned, your liver’s role in the body is to process any toxins and bacteria that could potentially wreak havoc. Even if you’re super careful, these toxins can still find their way into your system, whether it’s through your diet, pharmaceuticals and other drugs, or even from the air that you breathe.
Before you take this as a warning to stop breathing, though, it’s important to note that toxins are everywhere and they’re inevitable. That’s why it’s so essential to take good care of your liver, since it works literally around the clock 24/7 to help filter all of that stuff out.
If these toxins build up in your system, they can manifest themselves on your skin, leading to redness, irritation, inflammation, and severe acne. These issues aren’t just limited to your face, either. You may start to notice bumpy rashes on your torso, for instance, or itchiness in the palms of your hands.
The bottom line here, friends? If you want to avoid having acne-prone skin, then you need to have a healthy liver, full send. The relationship between liver and acne is indisputable, and there’s absolutely no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
How Do I Know If My Liver May Be Struggling?
When it comes to being attuned to your liver’s needs, it can be difficult to hear its subtle cries for help. However, research has shown that some of the earliest signs of poor liver health can manifest as chronic cutaneous complications. (Try saying that three times fast!) (1)
In layperson’s terms, this means that if you’re noticing weird skin conditions, such as a rash suddenly showing up on your stomach or an unexplained crop of acne blemishes appearing on your face out of nowhere, it might not be because of that new shampoo that you just recently tried. Instead, it could be traced back to a liver problem.
Or, more specifically, it can be traced back to impaired liver function. So, what exactly are some of these telltale signs of a struggling liver? These include, but aren’t limited to, the following issues:
- Acne breakouts. The link between your liver and hormonal acne is fairly clear-cut, as it oversees several endocrine functions (like thyroid and androgenic hormones), keeping them in balance. If it’s unhealthy, though, then those hormones can run amok and lead to cystic acne. However, the right hormonal acne supplement can help restore that balance, clearing up your skin once more. (2 & 3)
- Acne breakouts, round deux. In some cases, an acne breakout may not actually be acne vulgaris . It can instead be blamed on a condition known as acne rosacea . Curiously enough, science has since realized that while the exact cause of this type of acne is largely unknown, having a fatty liver can be a huge contributor to it. (4 & 5)
- Psoriasis and eczema. Eczema and psoriasis are somewhat common skin conditions that can result in painful, itchy rashes on the skin. In both cases, poor liver health has been linked to these patches on the body, and addressing this correlation has been shown to be pretty dang promising in banishing the scaling and redness for good. (6 & 7)
- Itchy, painful rashes. Also known as “pruritus,” very few things are as frustrating as having ongoing itchy spots on your body. If you’re the type of person who’s prone to unexplained rashes that come out of nowhere, and they’re driving you up the wall with their seemingly-incessant itching, it just might be your liver’s health to blame. (8)
- Premature aging. We’re all going to get older. That’s just a fact, and growing older is not something that should be regarded with dread or anxiety. However, if your liver health isn’t up to par, you’ll start to notice signs of accelerated, premature aging, such as poor muscle tone, skin laxity, and an increase in fine lines and wrinkles. (9)
- Dark spots on your skin. While it’s technically a misnomer to call melasma “liver spots,” there’s actually a grain of truth to this term. Yes, melasma is often caused by UV photodamage and heat, but it’s also been correlated with elevated LDL cholesterol levels (which are produced by the liver), as well. (10, 11, & 12)
Now, these are just some of the more common problems that can occur due to an unhealthy liver. The fact is, there are several other health conditions that can arise out of poor liver function, such as fatigue, jaundice, and even death. While the liver and acne connection is fairly obvious, the cascading side effects of impaired liver function strongly emphasize how important it is to be extra mindful of it. (13)
How to Support Your Liver
Everyone likes to get a little extra support every once in a while, especially when we’re feeling somewhat overwhelmed and pushed to our limits. Your liver is no different, and taking the time to take extra good care of it can make all the difference in feeling your very best and feeling like you’ve been hit by a semi-truck.
That said, when looking for an effective treatment option, there are a lot of seriously sketchy remedies out there that make empty promises of cleansing your liver for you. In many cases, your liver doesn’t even need these products, and using these products can backfire and make it worse. Instead, what your liver really needs is for you to be a bit more mindful about avoiding those things that can lead to inflammation and disease, such as:
- Abstain from indulging in excessive alcohol, sugar, and fatty foods. All of these inflammatory foods can be hard on your liver, making it harder for it to work at peak function. On the other hand, a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, ample fruits and veggies, and a bit of lean protein is great for boosting your liver’s health. (14, 15, 16, 17, & 18)
- Know which supplements are good (and which are bunk). Repeat after us, friends: most detoxes are, by and large, a sham and a fraud. With that said, though, there are some supplements that have been shown to help promote liver health and detoxification. These include milk thistle, turmeric, artichoke leaf, and perhaps most importantly, the nutrient glutathione (which is included in our MINDBODYSKIN supplement 😉). (19, 20, 21, & 22)
- Strive for a healthy lifestyle in general. Believe it or not, your lifestyle can play a huge role in good liver health. For instance, regular exercise can help burn off triglycerides, which can help ward off NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). Furthermore, maintaining a healthy weight can also help prevent liver problems, too. (23)
The biggie here is to keep in mind that while yes, your liver is just one organ in your body, it’s one of the most critical ones hidden away in there. It’s in your best interest to take good care of it – not only for your skin health, but for your general health, as well. Taking a whole-body approach toward your liver can make all the difference in the long run.
If you are struggling with acne, it’s also important to bear in mind that many prescription treatments are just band-aids and they don’t address the underlying issue. Furthermore, some acne medications (such as Accutane) are actually really bad for your liver and can lead to hepatic damage. Finding the right Accutane alternative can give you the clear skin you deserve, but without all the dangerous side effects.
Trying to avoid acne lesions and stay healthy can understandably be quite tricky. Our modern society has given us so many opportunities to live our best lives, but there’s also some inevitable speed bumps that we’ll encounter along the way, too. Environmental pollutants, dietary and lifestyle influences, and even our general habits can affect our liver health.
By and large, there’s literally no reason to reach for a questionable liver detox to keep your liver running smoothly. In fact, it’s actually self-cleaning, and all it takes is chugging enough water (we’re talking at two liters per day here, if not more) to help flush out those toxins and keep it at peak health. It’s also beneficial to drink hot water with lemon, as the lemon helps with digestion and detoxification. (24)
The bottom line? Yes, you do need to be mindful of your liver’s health, since your liver and acne are super enmeshed in one another – and you do not want to mess around with it, as it can lead to serious harm to your skin and your general wellbeing. And by taking a whole-body approach to liver function, you can help ward off most (if not all!) of these issues for good.
Source 1: Cutaneous manifestations of common liver diseases https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25755383/
Source 2: Newly discovered endocrine functions of the liver https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8637678/
Source 3: Liver immunology and its role in inflammation and homeostasis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4856809/
Source 4: Acne and Rosacea https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289119/
Source 5: Rosacea and WNT: How fatty liver alters follicle cell fate in the midface https://www.jaad.org/article/S0190-9622(17)31352-X/fulltext
Source 6: Pathophysiology of Atopic Dermatitis and Psoriasis: Implications for Management in Children https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826460/
Source 7: Atopic Dermatitis: Update on Pathogenesis and Comorbidities https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13671-012-0021-y
Source 8: Itch and liver: management in primary care https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4439832/
Source 9: Sarcopenia in Patients with Advanced Liver Disease https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28462693/
Source 10: Non-alcoholic fatty liver and lipid profile status in patients with melasma: A case-control study https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33609335/
Source 11: StatPearls: Melasma https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459271/
Source 12: StatPearls: Biochemistry, LDL Cholesterol https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519561/
Source 13: StatPearls: Chronic Liver Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554597/
Source 14: StatPearls: Alcoholic Liver Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546632/
Source 15: Fructose and sugar: A major mediator of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29408694/
Source 16: Impact of Nutritional Changes on Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6470750/
Source 17: Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Meta-Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5019889/
Source 18: Diet - liver disease https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002441.htm
Source 19: StatPearls: Milk Thistle https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK541075/
Source 20: Curcumin in Liver Diseases: A Systematic Review of the Cellular Mechanisms of Oxidative Stress and Clinical Perspective https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6073929/
Source 21: Efficacy of artichoke leaf extract in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29520889/
Source 22: Efficacy of glutathione for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: an open-label, single-arm, multicenter, pilot study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549431/
Source 23: Aerobic exercise reduces triglycerides by targeting apolipoprotein C3 in patients with coronary heart disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6436502/
Source 24: Plants Consumption and Liver Health https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499388/