Most people nowadays have suffered through acne at one point in their lives, or still do. It’s prevalence has seen a drastic increase over the last 50 years and it seems to be getting harder to treat, and the worst part about it isn’t the potential scarring, but the emotional toll it takes on self-confidence. But before you seek medical intervention (which more often than not is still isotretinoin, or Accutane), consult your naturopath and discuss the following alternative methods to keep acne away for good.
What it is
Acne is a multifactorial condition of the skin, resulting in one or numerous comedones or “zits”. Here is a brief outline of how acne occurs, yet why it happens is still unknown.
- The sebaceous glands in the skin start to produce more sebum. This is likely due to hormonal changes (puberty, ovulation, other hormonal conditions)
- Hyperkeratinization of the hair follicle (increased growth) along with increased desquamation (shedding of cells) creates a plug within the follicle (pore)
- Increased colonization by Propionibacterium acnes increases inflammation and the body’s immune response with white blood cells (pus)
Where it is
Acne typically occurs in areas of increased sebaceous glands: the face, neck, chest, back and upper arms.
How to treat it
Not so long ago, just doing one of the below might have been enough to clear up acne (namely removing dairy), but many or all of them might be needed now.
- Do’s: lots of fibre (helps with removal of hormonal metabolites), pumpkin seeds (balances androgens), flax (balances estrogens, fibre and a laxative), fresh greens and lots of water
- Dont’s: dairy (interferes with hormones), refined sugars and too many carbohydrates (interferes with hormones and feeds P. acnes), fatty foods (fatty meats, fried foods – increases sebum), alcohol, food preservatives/additives
- Decrease stress
- Aerobic exercise that induces sweating
- Regulate bowel movements
- Improve sleep quality and quantity (sleep hygiene)
- Change your pillow case daily
- Wash with an antimicrobial soap
- Gently exfoliate, but too much increases sebum
- Don’t use facial/body products with thick oils that will block the pores: e.g. vaseline, mineral oils, some makeups, etc.
- Diluted Tea Tree Oil (antimicrobial)
- Calendula (heals skin)
- Niacinamide gel
- Honey (natural, no sugar added)
- Clay mask for 15min and well rinsed afterward
- Fish oil: helps to reduce inflammation
- Chromium picolinate: helps balance insulin and convert healthy skin fats
- Niacinamide/nicotinamide: multiple benefits
- EGCG (green tea extract): has anti-androgen properties
- Probiotic: helps regulate bowels, reduce inflammations and fight P. acnes
- Zinc sulphate: supports the body’s immune system
- Vitamin B6/P5P: helps with acne if menses is a contributing factor
- Vitamin C: boosts the immune system and helps heal skin
- *Vitamin A: if all else fails, very high doses of this can be taken under medical supervision (similar actions to Accutane) as it can be hepatotoxic
- Red clover, Chasteberry (regulate female hormones)
- Saw palmetto (regulate androgens)
- Burberry, Burdock, Goldenseal (antimicrobial)