Pimples, bumps, cysts, redness and inflammation...fun! Every day people wake up to acne, also known as acne vulgaris. It even sounds vulgar! It is a chronic skin condition that affects approximately 85% of Canadian teenagers and up to 12% women and 3% men will continue to have acne until their mid 40's. Acne can range from mild to severe, it all begins the same way: oil glands (sebaceous glands) in the skin secrete an oily substance (sebum) into the hair follicles. The sebum lubricates the hair and skin, but if too much sebum is produced, it can block the skin pores and trap dead skin cells. A plug then forms and develops into a closed dome (whitehead) or open dome (blackhead). If bacteria gets into the dome, the skin becomes inflamed and pimples form. Sometimes pimples fill with pus and invade deep into the skin, forming the painful scars known as cysts. When pustules and cysts form scar tissue when they heal, they can leave pits in the skin.
Acne usually appears during adolescence and is largely caused by hormonal changes. The hormone change stimulates the sebaceous glands to increase sebum production, a process that usually subsides by the age of 20. It is not uncommon for acne to appear for the first time in adults though and in this case it may be a genetic disposition, hormonal changes (related to menstruation or high testosterone levels), reaction to certain cosmetics and from use of certain medications, such as, lithium, corticosteroids, oral contraceptives and phenytoin. Poor diets, nutrient depleated food, fat, protein and sugar excess, mineral-water excess and organ malfunction (usually kidney or liver).
Prevention and Treatments:
You can reduce the severity of acne and take steps to decreasing the impact it has if you:
- Avoid picking, popping or irritating the pimples.
- Eat a whole-foods diet that includes for to five servings of green vegetables daily as chlorophyll is good for the skin and also eat lots of fiber. This is extremely important as our organs of elimination are NOT in fine working order. The fact that these and many other conditions clear up after the removal of dairy products, indicates that cow's milk and its derivatives because of their high content of buildup elements or protein and calcium, may be closely associated with them.*
- Use mild soap when washing your face and avoid harsh cleaners or scrubs.
- Avoid use of cosmetics that contain oil, which can clog your pores, or those that contain lanolin, isopropyl myristate, laureth-4, D&C red dyes and sodium lauryl sulfate.
- Wash hair frequently.
- Tea tree oil is a must! When it is applied to acne, it may reduce bacteria and improve inflammatory symptoms. Tea tree oil has fewer side effects, compared with benzoyl peroxide. Apply a drop or two to each lesions three times daily or use 5% gel twice daily. Personal note: For myself I use Tea Tree Oil Facial Moisturizer by @mosphere and I LOVE IT! Also, I take Progesterone because my levels were slightly low and I find that has helped balance my hormones too.
- Vitamin A or beta-carotene. Suggested amount would be "up to 25,000 IU daily of vitamin A is considered safe for postmenopausal women; a comparable dose of beta-carotene is 30,000mcg. For women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant, take no more than 10,000 IU daily of vitamin A or 6,000 mcg or beta-carotene."
- Vitamin B complex. Two to three times daily, take 25 to 50 mg. "Also include extra vitamin B6 and take 25 mg twice daily for severe acne, once daily for mild to moderate acne." If you find that acne flairs up only happen during your menstrual cycles, take 50 mg of vitamin B6 daily.
Copper, Zinc and Aloe Vera are also other options. Please contact me for further information if the above treatments show no significant improvement after 6-8 weeks. I can also provide recipes and more information.
PTS, RHN, OAS
*Food and Healing by AnneMarie Colbin