Diet and supplements for pyoderma faciale

If you’re suffering from pyoderma faciale, the most severe form of rosacea, I’ve noticed from personal experience that diet is the No. 1 thing you can change right now to improve symptoms. Over the years I’ve narrowed down the list of trigger foods for me. I’m betting that there is some variation between individuals, but this is a great baseline to help get your skin under control quickly.

The main issue with an autoimmune disorder like PD, like with so many other disorders, is internal inflammation. It took years to build to this critical level, so even though it may seem like it popped up overnight, it was years in the making. The good news is, if you are diligent with diet and supplementation, you can start seeing an improvement in days.

Here’s my diet plan:

• Drink lots of water. Aim for 48 ounces of water or non-carbonated beverages per day, and invest in a good water filter pitcher to eliminate heavy metals AND flouride. I use AquaGear.

• Eliminate gluten first. Do not cheat on this one. I’ve heard that gluten in Europe does not cause inflammation like here in the states, but if you’re living in the U.S., then eliminating gluten is crucial due to the pesticide contamination.

• Eliminate all seafood products and supplements. This one snuck up on me, but I was able to figure it out this summer after eating shrimp during a trip. I had also been taking taking fish oil supplements, and it took me several weeks to figure out it was making things worse, not better. The quality of our seafood is compromised because of all the pollution and heavy metals in the water, so if you’re battling inflammation, skip all seafood.

• Eliminate coffee, chocolate, dairy, and alcohol if needed. Cheap chocolate especially will keep my face flared up for months, but really I need to avoid all forms of chocolate. I have a hard time with coffee, but if I brew my own and limit sweeteners to two packets of raw sugar, I can manage without having a bad flare.

• Eliminate tea – white, green, black, pu-erh and oolong – anything made with actual tea leaves. Tea leaves are high in flouride, as are grapes and raisins.

• Add chia seeds to your diet, preferably soaked. Chia seeds have all 9 amino acids (making it a complete protein) and omega-3s plus calcium and other trace minerals. Win-win-win.

My topical and supplement plan:

• I use emu oil several times a day on my face. If my face starts burning, I apply it and let my skin tell me how many times a day. Emu oil penetrates to the dermal layer, speeding cell turnover and creating healthier skin cells. I use Emu Gold because it comes in a glass bottle with a pump, so there is less chance of contamination.

• I also use Straight Hemp topically on lesions and internally, 3 drops under my tongue before bed, to fight inflammation while I sleep.

• I clean my face three times a week with a gentle, emu-based cleanser and let it rest in between to maintain the acid mantle. My skin has always improved the less I wash it. Unfortunately, the manufacturer of my emu cleanser changed the formulation, so I’m looking for a new one and scraping out the bottom of my current bottle.

• I live in Florida, so sunscreen is important. I use Neutrogena sensitive skin sunscreen 60+ SPF. Added bonus: the whiteness of the sunscreen tones down the redness if I’m having a flare.

• Skin health starts in the gut, so I choose probiotics that are fermented and mostly low-histamine strains. My favorite is Dr. Ohira’s. I will take anywhere from 1 to 5 capsules a day. If I want them to populate my upper GI, I chew them and swallow, and if I want them to populate my lower GI I just swallow them like normal, and swallow a last dose before bed.

Although these recommendations are for pyoderma faciale, this is a good starting point for developing plans of care for other skin conditions instead of trying to figure it out from scratch. If you’ve noticed, many of the food guidelines are due to pesticide and heavy metal contamination, so always buy organic if possible and support groups who address environmental and food safety issues. The diet restrictions may seem too harsh at first, but once you notice what helps your skin and what harms it, it’s pretty easy to make choices that will have you looking and feeling better, too.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.


CBD oil and seborrheic keratosis

You know how minor health issues have a way of sneaking up on you? One of mine was a grayish looking wart that had popped up on my face and stayed for a couple of years. Because I had been briefly seeing a dermatologist for pyoderma faciale, and she hadn’t been able to help me with a medication I could tolerate, I was on my last visit. So as an afterthought before I left I asked her about the weird spot on my cheek that was way different than the rest of the mess on my face.

She told me it was a noncancerous seborrheic keratosis, gave me a pamphlet about it, and told me I could have it removed. Quite frankly, I wasn’t ready to spend the money, and hoped that somewhere along the way, once I got the PD under control I’d worry about it then.

Fast forward two years. I started carrying Straight Hemp in my clinic, so I had plenty to try on myself. It helped my mood, the inflammation on my face, my ankle joints, and three drops a night under my tongue helped me sleep, too. Win-win-win-win!

One night I put the CBD oil on the PD lesions, and figured, “Hey, might as well get the warty thing too.” I woke up the next morning, and I swore it was starting to flake at the edges and it was a bit itchy. Three or so days later, most of it had peeled off, layer by layer. For another week, I had the smallest of skin tags where it had been, and now that’s gone too. In fact, I’m not sure where the seborrheic keratosis actually was on my face, because now I can’t see a trace of it.

It’s commonly accepted that it’s an ok choice not to treat seborrheic keratosis because it’s not usually an acute problem, but the only way to fix it is to remove it. I have to say though, I was happy with the results from the Straight Hemp CBD oil, and since this is considered a “normal” sign of aging, I plan to try it again if needed. In the meantime, this is a noninvasive treatment I will be recommending to patients too.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.



Suggested safety guidelines for Florida beachgoers who get acupuncture

Several cases of necrotizing fasciitis, also known as flesh-eating bacteria, have been spiking in different areas of Florida for several weeks. One of the most recent cases was a man who had a steroid injection in his back in the days before his beach visit (read more here).

Because of my background as a massage therapist, I had already been telling my patients for years that I prefer them to schedule massages before acupuncture, because it does leave tiny holes in the skin temporarily. Several months ago I had updated my post-acupuncture instructions to also include no swimming. Even though needles used for steroid injections are bigger than acupuncture needles, the same theory still applies. Any piercing of the skin will leave a tiny hole temporarily, so swimming in our Florida waters should be avoided if you have ANY break in the skin. And if you cut or scrape yourself while at the beach, that is a good reason to leave right away and go home to clean it out and apply Neosporin ASAP and continue to monitor the site.

How long should I wait to go back in the water?

Right now, I’m scheduling acupuncture patients two days before planned beach activities so that there is 48 hours to heal the skin. If you are slow to heal, you may want to plan on waiting longer before you go back in the water.

Who should avoid the beach right now?

Because I have an autoimmune disorder, pyoderma faciale (a severe form of rosacea), it’s been four years since I went to a beach. Here are my personal recommendations for my acupuncture patients who may want to consider avoiding the beach at this time. As always, consult your acupuncturist and health care team before deciding for yourself what is appropriate for you.

• Diabetics, especially if you use a lancet to check your blood sugar and/or get insulin injections.

• Anyone with neuropathy, lymphedema, cellulitis, cuts, bites, bruises, chronic skin conditions, acne, rash, etc.

• Anyone who has had an injection in the past three days to a week. If you recently got a piercing or tattoo, follow the care guidelines you were given.

• Anyone with autoimmune disorders, even if their skin is intact.

Is this excessively conservative? It’s possible. But now that there has been one suspected case of flesh eating bacteria from an injection site, it’s better to be a little more careful today to avoid a nasty complication later. Hopefully, these recommendations won’t be needed for very long.

What can you do to help?

Our water quality is something that can’t be left to chance or someone else to monitor anymore. Please consider helping out by:

• Picking up litter in and around water, if you can do it safely. Ditto for on land.

• Volunteer with or donate to, Keep Charlotte Beautiful, Florida Coastal Conservancy, Greater Charlotte Harbor Sierra Club, or other organizations that advocate for the environment. They’re helping protect your water quality!

• Reduce your use of fertilizers.

• Be mindful of what you flush in the toilet or pour down drains! That includes medicines too. Flushing is not the right way to dispose of your medications or other items.

• Educate yourself on water quality issues in your area. Write your elected officials and tell them how important it is for your health and our economic security. We depend on clean beaches and harbors to attract tourists and we depend on clean water for our health.

Clean water is not a luxury, and ignoring water quality issues won’t solve it, either. But with teamwork from local grass-root efforts up to local, state and federal government levels, we can help reverse this trend and clean up our waterways and beaches so we can all go back in the water safely.

Be mindful of your health status when deciding to go to the beach, and keep an eye on your skin when you’re there as well as after you get home.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Emu oil helps my pyoderma faciale

Many people just assume that professionals in the health care field have cured all their own health problems. That’s not always the case, but many times, practitioners are brought to the field BECAUSE of their health issues.

That’s how it was for me. One of the issues I’ve struggled with over the past nine years is severe breakouts on my face. It wasn’t until two years ago that I got a more detailed diagnosis of my form of rosacea: Pyoderma faciale (also called Rosacea fulminans.)

When I got that detailed diagnosis, I tried going the traditional route and taking meds. The doxycycline made my face better, but it made me feel so weak that I felt like my heart didn’t have enough energy to beat. It also increased the intracranial pressure in my head, and I’ve noticed that my weather-related migraines are on the worse side since then. My dermatologist had also given me a topical steroid to try after that, and I tried it several times. Within ten minutes of application, no matter what time of day I applied it, I would get an anxiety attack out of nowhere. So that was a no-go too.

Luckily, one of my acupuncture teachers, who I go to for my own acupuncture treatments, referred me to a colleague that she had worked with, Nadine Toriello, who specializes in problem skin like mine. My teacher suggested I try topical emu oil right away while I waited to get in to see Nadine. She was the first esthetician who understood my diagnosis and what my skin needed to heal.

I noticed a difference right away! Emu oil penetrates to the dermis, where the skin is formed, and starts the healing deep down. It takes the incessant burning away, which is a godsend. My rule of thumb is that I apply emu oil when I feel my skin burning, so that could be anywhere from one to several times a day. I use Emu Gold, because it comes in a pump, so I don’t spill my precious oil (I did that once with another brand that had a dropper!) and keeps it from being exposed to air and oxidizing.

A few months ago, my husband brought me samples of Emu Aid, a homeopathic cream with different potencies of Argentum Metallicum. It also includes emu, lysine, tea tree oil and other ingredients. I have to say I was hesitant to try it, because so many things end up making my face worse, not better. But it’s been helping a great deal. So now I use both Emu Gold and Emuaid.

I’ve gotten my skin to the point where it is totally clear for several months at a time, but if I forget to apply emu for too long, or eat a lot of my trigger foods at once, it comes back and stays back for a long time. I also use an emu-based cleanser.

One of the most important times to apply whatever emu oil you’re using is at night. Part of the issue with rosacea is Demodex mites, which everyone has, but seem to be a little more out of control on people with rosacea. They migrate to the top of the skin at night to feed and mate (totally gross!) but keeping a layer of emu oil on seems to help keep that under control. So I rarely skip a nighttime application of emu now.

It’s important to have a two-prong approach to treating your skin issues, whether it’s acne, rosacea, eczema or psoriasis. Topicals alone won’t fix your skin if you don’t take care of the inflammation internally. Check out my blog post for internal fixes here.

If I had to pick only one topical to manage my pyoderma faciale, it would be emu. We’ll talk about my No. 2 remedy in my next post.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician at Vitalichi Acupuncture. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.

Chinese Medicine can help recovery from shingles

New Hope Chiropractic

Shingles is the term used to describe a contagious recurrence of the herpes zoster virus that manifests with intense pain and a blistering rash along with flu-like symptoms or malaise. Although it’s more common in people over 50, shingles isn’t a disease for just seniors. Anyone who has had chickenpox has the potential to get shingles when the immune system is compromised.

Both allopathic and Chinese Medicine are important when it comes to treating shingles, but time and quick treatment is of the essence if you want to reduce the severity and length of symptoms.

In Chinese Medicine, shingles is considered a pattern of Toxic Damp Heat. The damp heat is a description of the rash, with the blisters manifesting the “toxic” part of the equation. When a patient present with a “hot” pattern such as shingles, the goal with acupuncture is to pick points to cool down the patient (reduce inflammation), help manage stress (intense pain causes a lot of emotional and physiological stress, and that’s normal) as well as “vent” the rash to help the body clear it out as soon as possible. The other important treatment strategy is to make sure the patient doesn’t add any “heat” by way of food, hot showers, or topicals that make things worse.

My preferred treatment schedule for patients includes a visit to the medical doctor first for confirmation and a prescription, if appropriate, then acupuncture and supplements as soon as possible to help manage the pain and speed healing. This is an excellent example of how allopathic and holistic medicine can work together to help patients feel better quicker. It’s definitely not appropriate to take a “wait and see” approach when it comes to shingles; it’s probably not going to get better by itself quickly if that’s what you’ve got.

My neighbor’s medical degree came from Google University

I guarantee that if you see a licensed medical professional, allopathic or holistic, you will not be the first shingles case to walk through their door. Your medical professional will give you advice and prescriptions that have worked for many people before you and are backed by science and experience. Many patients have questions and concerns about new prescriptions, and that’s normal. If you have pre-existing conditions, remind your doctor, and ask your questions before you leave, so that you feel confident about taking your meds or supplements as they are prescribed.

When you feel sick or have severe pain, it’s normal to look for relief from any source once you leave the doctor’s office, but many times, the information you get from Google, a “wellness” coach, or your neighbors can be conflicting or aggravate your condition. Trust your health professionals and try to resist the urge to lather yourself with a dozen different “natural” things that “worked for someone on this one online forum I found at 2 a.m.” Natural doesn’t always mean better, especially if you don’t have experience with that remedy. Save your experimentation for the kitchen.

On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with researching your condition. Many of my patients like to surf the web for info, and I recommend searching whatever issue you have with the additional terms of “clinical trials” or “scientific studies.” A PubMed study, “Comparison of therapeutic effects of different types of acupuncture interventions on herpes zoster in acute stage,” ( found that with acupuncture there was significant pain relief starting about the seventh day verses medicine alone. Another study ( found that acupuncture, added to other traditional Asian forms of treatment like cupping, increased effectiveness.

Tips for getting through shingles:

  • If you have severe pain that lasts more than a day and you don’t remember injuring yourself or “overdoing” it, make an appointment with your doctor. If you see any signs of rash, see a doctor that day. If your doctor gives you a script, fill it and start taking it as directed right away. Make sure they also know about any other medications or over the counter remedies your take.
  • Do stay well hydrated.
  • Avoid spicy and fried foods. In Chinese Medicine, adding “hot” foods to a “hot” condition makes things worse and prolongs healing.
  • Eat a few extra servings of cooling foods like watermelon, iceberg lettuce and cucumber. Ice cream does not count! Try fruit-based popsicles instead.
  • Take tepid or cool showers.
  • Wash your sheets, towels, etc. with hot water and bleach, especially if your blisters oozed or burst.
  • Ask your health professional what topical products and supplements they recommend for you. Do not apply essential oils to an active rash.
  • Do follow your doctor’s advice. Do not reinvent your treatment plan, change your dosage, or skip your meds. You know your body best, but your health professional team knows what works best for most people.
  • Do not scratch your rash or pop the blisters.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Try to manage your stress and rest often.
  • If you have a chiropractor on your health care team, get an adjustment, if appropriate.
  • Do NOT get a massage.

Shingles is an unfortunate complication of a disease you probably forgot all about, but your health care team can help you find relief.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist in Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture.

Skin care starts from the inside out

A lot of people mistake me for my daughter’s older sister. Most people don’t peg me for 40 unless they see me first thing in the morning (I’m definitely NOT a morning person). Although I do sport quite a deep liver line (in Chinese medicine we call the crease between the eyes the liver line – it’s an indicator of stress or eyestrain) the rest of my face is fairly wrinkle free.

I get a lot of compliments on my skin, but that wasn’t always the case. I had the chicken pox twice as a child, and the second time left me badly scarred on my forehead and nose. Severe acne runs in my family too, and I certainly wasn’t immune as a teen. And my fellow TCM students saw firsthand the severe case of rosacea plus melasma I dealt with during my last pregnancy / miscarriage. I battled that for two years before getting it under control (but not cured, it’s a chronic thing). So I’ve learned a lot about skin issues. And I’ve been on the wrong side of staring and rude comments too.

Like it or not, people do judge other people by their skin. But it’s not just about beauty – our skin is the biggest organ of protection we have, and we as a society tend to treat it like a measure of beauty only and not of health. It’s not vain to take care of your skin; it’s just as important as taking care of the rest of you.

If you want beautiful skin, you have to be willing to work on it everyday for the rest of your life. It’s not hard, but it does take a little discipline and some dietary adjustments.

Here are my DOs and DON’Ts for beautiful skin:

• DO drink water. There is no substitute for hydrating your skin. If you are low on water, your internal organs get first dibs and shorts your skin. The rule of thumb I use is drinking half my body weight in ounces each day. Mind you, I don’t always make that benchmark, but I see a huge difference when I do stay hydrated. I especially love Voss water from Norway. I also keep an AquaGear water filter pitcher in the office. Nix the crystal light packets or anything with artificial sugar; there are plenty of cleaner versions of flavor packets available now. You can deal, especially if you have a good tasting water. Add a slice of lemon or lime if you have to have a little flavor.

• DO see a professional. It’s your choice whether you see a dermatologist, esthetician, Chinese doctor, or any combination. My dad and sister see a doctor. I have an awesome skin care specialist Nadine Toriello who helped me get my skin back to healthy. There are quite a few Chinese herbal formulas to help acne and itchy skin too. I used one to help help with the itching. Whichever route you go, it’s important to not pay attention to other people’s well-meaning but perhaps not accurate advice. Everyone who took one look at the oozing, itchy red-butterfly shaped mess on my face had a fix for me. Most of it made my face worse, not better. (And no, I don’t have lupus. I was diagnosed with a severe form of rosacea, pyoderma faciale, by a doctor. I also had symptoms as a child but had no idea what it was back then). Even some professionals I saw recommended things I felt weren’t appropriate, and it turned out they weren’t. So listen to your inner voice, and if you don’t see good results or it aggravates your skin don’t be afraid to speak up.

• DO create a full beauty routine. Emu oil is my go-to topical product, which I use daily. I also have a corrective makeup pallet that I can use to cover whatever blemishes I have. There’s nothing wrong with making your skin look the best it can every day.

• DO wear sunscreen. Every day. It will make a difference.

• DO remember that your skin “eats.” If you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin. I use all natural soaps and neem shampoo (especially important since your hair gets on your face all the time). What I do get is amazingly soft and not-dry skin with a clean feeling that no other soap matches. Even the stuff in health food stores can be full of junk like gluten, parabens, phthalates, petrolatum or sulfates. Read labels. Every time.

• DO get a good night’s sleep each night. Enough said.

• DON’T drink alcohol, coffee, black or red teas, chocolate or spicy foods; limit the dairy and red meat too. Inflammation starts from the inside, and most of it comes from our diet. A lifetime of poor diet choices will show up on your face. My skin looks so much better when I avoid these things. I can see a difference within hours if I eat something inappropriate for my skin. Yes, it hurts. This is the hardest change to make, I won’t lie, but it is worth it. And when you do indulge, make sure the situation is worth it. You may want to invest in a good anti-inflammation diet book if you are ready to go hard-core. I think Dr. Perricone has one.

• DON’T touch or scratch your face. Wash your hands before and after if you must touch  your face. My rosacea itched and flaked so bad! It was nasty, and it was hard not to mess with it. That’s one reason why it’s so important to get a good serum for your face – if your skin isn’t itchy, you won’t touch it, and it will heal faster.

• DON’T let stress get to you – it will show up on your face! Massage, aromatherapy and acupuncture treat stress well.

• DON’T use those fancy microderm abrasion cloths unless your skin care professional tells you to. Learned that one the hard way too.

And here is the most important tip to remember:

• DO tell yourself you are beautiful, every time you look in the mirror. It doesn’t matter how scarred or acne-ridden or itchy your face is. It doesn’t matter what other people think or say about it either. You are beautiful, exactly the way you are. OWN IT! You deserve to feel beautiful everyday of your life.

Nicole Noles Collins is a licensed acupuncture physician and massage therapist at Vitalichi Acupuncture in Port Charlotte, Florida. Nicole has two bachelor’s degrees – Alternative Medicine and Professional Health Sciences – as well as a master’s degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has a passion for both writing and natural health. Please visit her website at and like her Facebook page at Vitalichi Acupuncture. For more information, call 941-979-9793.