If you've just been diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease, it may be frustrating to discover that you have new symptoms each day on top of your fatigue and flu-like symptoms. One surprising—and unfortunate—side effect that you may experience from Lyme is acne. 

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

Since you will most likely be starting an intense regimen of antibiotics for the Lyme disease, adding some more medicine to the roster may not be what you had in mind. However, since many antibiotics are used to treat acne as well, you and your dermatologist can work together to find a prescription that can address both issues. For instance, Doxycycline can be used to treat both acne and Lyme disease.

Addressing Your Gut Flora

While antibiotics will help you kill the Lyme disease, the downside is that they also kill the good bacteria in your stomach. According to MindBodyGreen.com, the microbiome in your body has a direct link to how your skin will look. Since you will most likely be getting lots of blood work done during your Lyme journey, don't forget to add a stool test to your lab visit. That way, your doctor can look at the ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria in your intestines. Another test that can check your gut flora is an immunological blood test. This test will help you identify leaky gut syndrome (which means your intestinal lining is damaged and can't filter nutrients efficiently). After taking one of these tests, talk with your dermatologist about a good probiotic. The American Academy of Dermatology has stated that patients suffering from acne and rosacea have benefited from probiotic use.

Drinking More Water

If your body cannot handle antibiotics, your doctor may have started you on a holistic protocol of herbs and antimicrobials. Many Lyme protocols require patients to drink lots of water to aid in detoxing the nervous system, kidneys, lymphatic system, etc. While you may remember to take your protocol's herbs, make sure you take your water intake seriously as well since it can help clear up your acne by removing toxins and helping your skin maintain a normal pH.  

Dealing with the Possibility of a Hormonal Imbalance

Another "fun" fact about Lyme: it messes with your hormones! Make sure that your doctor tests and addresses any issues with your thyroid and adrenal glands. You may need to take supplements or creams of progesterone, pregnenolone, or DHEA to clear up your acne. If you were on birth control to help balance your hormones before, keep in mind that many Lyme antibiotics can break down the estrogen and reduce the effectiveness of the pills.

Accepting the Herxheimer Reaction

Believe it or not, experiencing increasing or new symptoms—like acne—is sometimes good when it comes to Lyme disease since it means that the bacteria are dying off. In essence, you may actually feel worse before you feel better. This phenomenon is known as a "Herxheimer Reaction" or "herxing." When the bacteria is killed by your immune system or antibiotics, endotoxins from the bacteria's cell walls are released. The released endotoxins cause an inflammatory response throughout your body, thus causing acne and other symptoms to spike. Sometimes herxing happens because of certain foods or because of temperature changes, and so on. You'll want to keep a journal of when you have bad and good days so that you can identify what exactly triggers your herx reactions and exacerbates your symptoms.If you think that a certain medication is causing you to herx and get more acne, talk with your dermatologist about other treatment options. Although it can be upsetting to deal with acne, the silver lining is that your skin's response means that your body is releasing toxins and healing itself from the inside out.

For more information about acne caused by Lyme disease and how you can treat it, contact a dermatologist at a facility like Billings Clinic.