Acne is a very common disease of the tiny fat glands at the base of hair follicles. The purpose of these follicular glands, most prevalent on the face, is to keep the skin moisturized. Common bacteria can irritate the hair follicles, which ultimately causes the fat gland to rupture and impact the pore. This can lead to blackheads, whiteheads, or the more serious “zits” which are inflamed and pus-filled pores. Deep acne can create permanent scars. While stress and genetics are certainly contributing factors in acne, diet plays a major role. Another key factor is excess androgen (testosterone) production which increases the size and activity of the fat glands in the hair follicles. Concentrated minerals and vitamins can help improve your biochemistry and promote clear, healthy skin.
Top Four Treatment Approaches for Acne
Clean Up Your Diet To Improve Bowel And Liver Function
We all know that fatty foods are implicated in pimples so make your best effort to completely eliminate pizza, fries and dairy products from your diet. What is less well known is the negative effect on the skin (and your health in general) from eating processed carbohydrates (candy, soda, commercial baked goods). Many dermatologists have noted insulin seems to help acne, which suggests that high refined carbohydrate diets contribute to the problem. People in a variety of cultures all over the world who eat only what they hunt or grow rarely have acne. While you are cleaning up your diet, you could increase the benefits by using a cleansing or detox program. Get a colonic 3-4 times yearly, and drink 16 ounces of liquid acidophilus right afterwards. Increase your daily consumption of green leafy vegetables. Use papaya enzymes to improve your digestion. Your digestive tract contains much of the highly active immune tissue in the body: Eating right and eliminating toxins daily will help not only your face, but your energy and well-being for the rest of your life. Figure out what it takes (vigorous exercise, prune juice, more water, ground flax seeds, etc.) to have a complete, easy-to-pass bowel movement at least once daily. Work with a nutritionally-oriented health care provider to sort out possible food allergens.
Take Healing Vitamins
High-dose Vitamin A is the most important. The prescription variety (Retinol) can damage your liver. Even natural Vitamin A, in high doses, can pose risks, it can be very effective in treating acne. It is imperative for women using high dose Vitamin A therapy to avoid pregnancy because of possible fetal malformation. Also, be forewarned that high dose Vitamin A will probably cause drying of lips and skin, and should not be used for longer than 3 continuous months. A recommended dose is 100,000 IUs daily for 4 weeks, then 75,000 IUs daily for 2-4 weeks, then 50,000 IUs daily for 2-4 weeks. This therapy works by reducing the fat (sebum) build-up in the pores. Another important fat-soluble vitamin for the skin is Vitamin D. Think of it as liquid sunshine. Acne is typically worse in the winter, and tends to be more severe in climates with lower levels of UV light. Sunburns are certainly not good for your skin, but lots of fresh air and a light tan from daily sun exposure generally improves the complexion. For those of you who live in climates with low or variable amounts of sunshine, or who have photosensitive skin, you can get Vitamin D in a bottle good old Cod Liver Oil. Several companies make very tasty varieties (lemon/lime, orange, and even peach flavored). One teaspoon of Cod Liver Oil usually provides the requisite 400 IUs of Vitamin D daily. Cod Liver Oil is also an excellent source of Vitamin A. The importance of Vitamin C, as usual, cannot be overstated. It is the single most important agent in connective tissue healing, which includes skin repair. Use at least 2 grams of Vitamin C daily, ideally in a powdered form. All the B vitamins, including folic acid, help with both skin and nerve function, but niacin (Vitamin B3), applied topically, may be the most important of the B’s for treating acne. This is a new therapy, and probably works by enhancing local breakdown of androgens. Your local pharmacist should be able to provide niacin or niacinamide in a gel or spray form, which is applied after cleansing, twice daily until your skin improves.
Take Healing Minerals
Zinc is a co-factor in more than 75% of repair systems in the body. Use 50 mg twice daily or until the zinc tastes really metallic a sign that your body has plenty of zinc on-board. Sulfur is a potent natural anti-microbial, and the main reason that garlic and onions are useful foods in speeding the healing of flus or infections. They are naturally high in sulfur compounds. Unless you are sensitive to sulfur (for example to the “sulfa” class of antibiotics), this bright yellow mineral may be an important adjunct to your skin healing routine. Look for a skin care multi that contains sulfur. I particularly like PhytoPharmica brand “Nature Derm” that provides 200 mg sulfur daily. Chromium (to stabilize blood sugar, which will help keep you out of the cookie jar), 200 mcg daily, and Selenium 200-400 mg daily, are two other important trace minerals, critical for optimum immune function.
Try To Avoid Harsh Chemicals Or Abrasive Scrubbing Agents On Your Skin
Minimize make-up, especially foundations. If possible, wash your face with water only: start with a warm washcloth, then splash with briskly cold water. You can close up your pores with a natural skin toner made with lemon/lime or rosewater. Aloe gel is nice if the skin feels hot or raw. For deep cleansing and rehydration consider an application of a beaten raw egg yolk. Leave on for 15 minutes before rinsing with water only. Occasionally you could use an over-the-counter benzyl peroxide product to “dry up” zits overnight. Be cautious about over-doing topical applications, however. It bears repeating that washing the face with water only is best, but if that doesn’t feel clean enough, use a gentle exfoliant (something oatmeal based is gentler than fruit seeds or fruit acids) followed by a light toner. Avoid soap because it is too drying for the skin.
- “Is Acne Fed by the Western Diet?” Archives of Dermatology. Dec 19.2002, Cordain and Berson.
- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Murray and Pizzorno. Acne chapter.
- Archived discussions on acne: Clinical Support Network (CSN)
- Naturally Clear Skin Care Acne Control Treatments (or call 1-888-24-CLEAR) for topical niacin spray.