What is Acne? Acne is a skin disorder. Acne occurs when excess oil (sebum) production combined with dead skin cells clog pores. Bacteria forms in the pores resulting in red inflamed pimples, pus filled whiteheads, or blackheads. There are many different forms of acne; however, cystic acne is the most common form. An estimate that as many as 80% of teens have some form of acne at one point. Sometimes people will have perfect skin in their teen years and will not develop acne until their adult years.
What causes Acne?
The causes of acne can be classified into bacteria, genetics, hormones, and clogged pores. All these work together to cause acne. Bacteria is the single culprit required for acne. Genetics is also important. If one of your parents had acne sometime in their life chances are you will too. Hormones (specifically testosterone) can cause increased oil (sebum) production clogging the pores with dead skin cells.
Is diet involved in this problem?
Specific foods have not been proven to affect acne. However it is important to note that good nutrition helps the body maintain healthy skin. There have been some scientists suggesting that caffeine products and excessively salty foods aggravate acne in certain individuals. If you notice that certain foods aggravate your acne then the best advice is to limit or avoid them in your diet.
Foods (milk) and multi-vitamins that is high in iodine. Be aware of some junk food such as potato chips, corn chips, etc. Keep your diet low in fat and sugar. Eating a properly balanced diet ensures that your body gets the proper nutrients and therefore promotes healthy skin. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A high fiber, low-fat diet is excellent in promoting overall general health.
Water is a great help.
Water helps the body flush out toxins and transport nutrients to the body. Drinking water puts less strain on the skin organ to flush out toxins. The recommended amount of water you should drink is at least 64 ounces, that’s eight large (8 ounce) glasses per day – less if you weigh less than 120 pounds. While water alone may not eliminate your acne it will greatly assist your skin in remaining healthy and that will be one part of the battle in fighting acne.
Acidophilus is a good bacteria that resides in our intestine. This is a good bacteria because it fights back against bad bacteria that can be harmful to our health. So you ask how the problem can be with bacteria? The problem here is that certain actions will decrease the number of good bacteria within your intestines. The result is less good bacteria present will allow more bad bacteria to prosper in your intestines increasing the possibility of diseases (acne included). The chances are good that if you are excessively using: antibiotics, drugs, chlorinated water, junk and processed food in your daily life that you need acidophilus supplementation to restore the levels of good bacteria in your system. Studies have illustrated that acidophilus supplementation assists in many illnesses, including acne.
Herbs can be one of your best natural acne treatments. Do not look for overnight results though. Herbs work gently and build up in your system over time. Allow 3-4 weeks before examining effectiveness of treatment. Take prescribed doses as detailed on your bottle. Herbal supplements to include in the diet to balance the hormones are saw palmetto berry extract for boys and chaste tree berry extract for girls. Echinacea can be used to boost the immune system to fight against acne-causing bacteria. Some other herbs that may help include: alfalfa, burdock root, cayenne, chaparral, dandelion root, red clover, and yellow dock root.
Perhaps one of the most often overlooked remedies. Stop putting your hands on your face! I am often guilty of this resting my hand on the side of my head while reading. Also rubbing your chin is another common problem when thinking. Avoid rubbing, touching, or scratching your skin with your hands. Your hands contain a lot of bacteria that can cause acne flare-ups. Also be careful of the telephone. Clean them often with rubbing alcohol because they sometimes come in contact with the face causing more acne. It is probably one of the most difficult things to avoid since much of the hand to face contact throughout the day we are unconscious of.
Facial masks are good for a variety of reasons. They can tighten your pores, remove excess oil from the skin, or moisturize and replenish dry skin. .
Stress and Acne
Stress is something that needs to be reduced in your life since it tends to aggravate acne in many people. I have experienced high levels of stress during finals weeks at school resulting in increased levels of acne. So, how do you lower your stress levels? Aside from eliminating things that cause you stress in your life, look into relaxation techniques. Relaxation techniques are great for stressful situations
Zinc for acne
Zinc is one mineral that has shown to benefit acne in a scientific study. Warning: high doses of zinc are toxic. Avoid going over 100mg of zinc intake per day from food/supplement. You should probably have an intake of at least 50mg/day. It is recommended that you also take a daily multivitamin because increased levels of zinc require more Copper and Manganese. Examine effectiveness after 14 weeks. Some individuals report results in as little as 3 weeks. Your acne may get worse before it gets better during your intake of zinc. Zinc is of course not a cure all – end all for your acne.
Sleep – Get enough and save your face.
Research has indicated that our hormone levels increase when our sleep patterns are disturbed. Increased hormone levels results in increased sebum production which leads to… yep you guessed it – more acne. It is during our time of sleep that our skin cells are nourished and regenerating takes place the most as the body repairs itself from a long day. Get to bed earlier! Go to bed at least 1 or 2 hours earlier than you usually do and in a couple of days you will notice your face getting clearer and healthier.
Illustrated and compiled by Adam Chua, Face of Man. 30 August 2013