The Rundown on Acne
Acne not only affects adolescents, normally starting between the age of 10 and 13 and lasting for 5 to 10 years, but it can even persist into the thirties or later, often causing feelings of embarrassment and even low self-confidence with lesions and scarring appearing on the face, neck, chest, back and shoulders. Equally affecting both men and women, young men, however, often have more severe and longer lasting forms of acne, while women’s acne can be more intermittent depending on hormone fluctuations.
In short, acne is an inflammatory bacterial condition affecting the sebaceous follicles and hair follicles of the skin, whereby, in a normal hair follicle, the hair will act as a wick to bring sebum and other debris, such as dead skin cells, to the surface; in a follicle that lacks a hair, a build-up of dead skin cells and sebum provides an ideal environment for bacteria to flourish and can result in inflammation and impaction. (Waxing can actually cause a breakout due to the lack of hair inside the follicle.)
Acne can be triggered by diet; stress; cosmetics; the environment; hormones; friction; heat and humidity; industrial oils; and heredity.
Medical treatments for acne vary, and include topical treatments such as Retin-A and Accutane (isotretinoin) which are both derived from Vitamin A, and oral antibiotics. Whilst topical Retin-A may be beneficial for prevention and sometimes reversal of acne, sometimes causing side effects such as redness, dryness, peeling and itching of skin; taking any product containing the synthetic chemical form of Vitamin A, isotretinoin, can have severe side effects, including excessive dryness of the mucous membranes, eye dryness, nose bleeds, severe birth defects, nausea and vomiting, bone and joint pain, headache, thinning hair, psychological depression, suicide, and inflammatory bowel disease. User reported negative effects include erectile dysfunction, hearing impairment, seizures, heart attack and stroke.
As for antibiotics, every time you take an antibiotic, beneficial bacteria will be killed, which can then cause more problems than you are already suffering, with yeast infections and resistant bacterial strains as well as possible damage to your teeth and skeleton, not to mention that antibiotics don’t correct the cause of the acne, and relapse of acne is common.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that environmental factors contribute greatly to the development of acne, in particular your diet, and “evidence exists that diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates are the primary CAUSE of acne. We now know that a low grain or no grain diet will very likely clear up your skin, permanently! Antibiotics are unnecessary because correcting your diet creates an internal environment that does not ALLOW bacterial overgrowth to occur” (Mercola).
Try avoiding grains, sugar, cereals, potatoes, corn, rice, pasta, and processed foods. Eat fruit in limited quantities and fruit juices should be avoided completely as they contain concentrated sugars.
Try to include as many foods as possible that are rich in natural Vitamin A, which has been proven to maintain healthy eyes and skin. Foods such as:- sweet potatoes; carrots; pumpkin; spinach; watercress; broccoli; parsley; rockmelon; mango; apricots and goji berries
Drink at least 2 litres of fresh, preferably filtered, water, daily to assist with the elimination of wastes and removal of dead skin cells, as well as hydrating your skin.
Learn to Relax and De-Stress
Get plenty of exercise to improve your overall health and also aid in the removal of toxins and debris.
Get a good night’s sleep to allow your body time to heal and rebuild, important to help you feel energetic and in a good mood. Lack of sleep can contribute to depression.
Try to keep your stress levels to a minimum as stress stimulates the adrenal glands, promoting oil production and leading to clogged pores. Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga and massage. To free your mind and give yourself an emotional boost, it may be as simple as going for a walk and spending time in nature; a good workout at the gym; listening to music or watching a movie that makes you laugh!
From the Outside In
Sun is the best way to optimise your Vitamin D levels, crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system and controlling the infection in your skin, however, if you’re not able to get out into the sun regularly, an oral Vitamin D supplement is advisable.
Avoid synthetic or artificial ingredients in your skin and hair care products which are known to irritate and clog your skin, thus, aggravating acne, and only use certified organic skin care. So many potentially harmful substances are commonly used in synthetic products and your skin is a permeable membrane – what we put on our skin will eventually affect our health and if you’re using a number of different products on a daily basis, (who isn’t?) the toxic ingredients contained in these products are being absorbed into your blood stream and accumulating.
- Use only pure, natural products, produced without chemicals and labelled certified organic, without any skin clogging and irritating ingredients such as oil, lanolin and artificial colours, fragrances and preservatives.
- Don’t use toners, masks or exfoliants that contain scrubbing particles or alcohol and can irritate and dry out the skin excessively, causing dehydration, sensitivity and breakouts. Use a gentle organic toner or hydrosol.
- Don’t pick or touch your skin – you’ll only be making matters worse. Only touch your face when you’re cleansing and don’t use a wash-cloth or mitt, which can harbour bacteria, instead gently use your just washed hands to rinse.
- Keep your skin clean by cleansing at least twice a day (always double cleanse to remove all makeup and grime) with a gentle, organic cleanser made specially for your skin type (most likely it’s oily).
- Exfoliate and apply a mask designed for your skin type, at least weekly, more if possible, to cleanse and heal your skin. NEVER scrub or rub your skin!
- Always apply an oil free moisturiser to help regulate sebaceous activity and prevent the skin from increasing it’s production of oil to compensate for any loss during cleansing.
Acne can be extremely demoralising, but by modifying your diet, skin care and stress levels your skin can be dramatically improved and you’ll have the added bonus of far better health, energy, and future!
Don’t give up, give it a try – what have you got to lose? Wouldn’t a safer alternative be a far better option?