By Claire Georgiou, Reboot Naturopath, B.HSc ND
We’ve all had them. Those red, sometimes white bumps, that appear out of nowhere. Or so we think.
Acne is the most common skin problem. Most people are affected by acne at some stage of their life and it often develops in teenage years due to hormonal changes but it also can develop in earlier adult years and even later in life. It consists of mild to severe outbreaks of pimples and cysts mainly on the face, back, arms and chest. Acne can be caused from overproduction of sebum (oil), build-up of bacteria or irregular shedding of dead skin cells. When the openings of hair follicles become clogged and blocked with oil secretions, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria then turns into pimples with pus, cysts and blackheads.
Anyone may get a pimple here and there but acne is a chronic problem that can be caused by:
A high GI diet consuming plenty of sugar laden foods and refined processed carbohydrates will contribute to poor skin health and acne.
Lack of nutrients:
Nutritional deficiencies are highly implicated in poor skin health, skin infections and poor shedding of dead skin, blocked pores and other skin disorders.
Hormonal changes and/or imbalances:
Testosterone is one of the main culprits for the increase in acne in teenage years. Testosterone is an androgen hormone that stimulates the oil glands to become larger and secrete more oil (sebum). This hormone is responsible for acne breakouts in both girls and boys. Girls and women will often experience an increased acne breakout in the week leading up to their periods.
Poor liver and intestinal health:
Inefficient detoxification pathways can increase acne breakouts, a build-up of toxins can cause unhealthy bacteria in the gut and this can affect your skin health. Some people who are cleansing will find an increase in pimples, this is certainly a detox reaction that some may experience. Keep going and your skin will never look better!
Poor skin cleaning practices or excess products:
People who may be prone to acne and who do not keep the skin clean and tend to touch their face, back, chest and arms often with dirty hands will aggravate acne and further increase infections. It is important to be aware that over cleansing and cleaning the skin can also aggravate acne, when you dry the skin out too much the skin tries to compensate by producing more sebum(oil) in the skin.
Natural Solutions to Heal Acne:
1.) Load up on Nutrients: Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Selenium are very specific for the treatment of acne. They help balance the hormones, support immune function to reduce infection, support liver detoxification pathways, support healthy mucus membranes in the skin and digestive system, wound healing, anti-inflammatory and may reduce excess oil secretion.
2.) Avoid Dairy Products: Dairy can aggravate acne for some people, it can be beneficial to eliminate dairy for 6-12 weeks to see if there is any significant improvements to the skin.
3.) Reduce Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates: This includes white flour based products like breads, bagels, biscuits, processed breakfast cereals and crackers. These foods elevate insulin which can increase acne breakouts. Low GI-diets have also been shown to be beneficial for acne.
4.) Increase Fiber: Fiber improves glycemic control and fiber also binds with hormones that are excreted from the liver and then via the bowel. You can increase your fiber by including extra foods such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, oat bran or psyllium husks in smoothies, juices, breakfast dishes or simply take with water to move things along.
5.) Hydrate: Drink up for natural skin cleansing! Keep up those 8 glasses of water every day!
6.) Consume More Fruits and Vegetables: Important for their cleansing benefit, they also help balance hormone levels by improving detoxification pathways. Dark green leafy vegetables improve skin radiance and reducing excess oil production. I always think of the expression ‘Greens Clean!!’ I always think of green juices as the best nutritional aid for acne.
7.) Hormonal Acne: All these suggestions will aid in balancing hormonal health. Female acne can also be helped with the herb Chaste Berry and vitamin B6 which may alleviate some cases of premenstrual acne.
8.) Anti-Microbial Agents: Eating raw garlic and consuming some herbal medicines such as a tea, powder or liquid such as calendula (marigold), echinacea, yellow dock, blug flag and burdock can help your skin from the inside out. Make sure you eat foods naturally containing bacteria to improve digestive health as this is also very important for reducing harmful bacteria which can contribute to acne.
9.) Stop Picking! Touching your face is another problem which further aggravates acne by increasing the infection rate of the pimples. People often pick and squeeze their pimples which will encourage more breakouts. Our hands are often covered in bacteria so it is important not to touch the skin when you have small open wounds that occur when the pimples are squeezed.
10.) Use Topical Lotions and Creams: These can help enormously to reduce bacterial infections getting into the pores and causing acne. Cleansing morning and night can reduce the incidence considerably.
Natural essential oils that are antiseptic can reduce acne such as tea tree, neem, oregano and lavender oil in face washes. Honey and propolis can also be beneficial.
Some make-up and oily face products can increase acne by clogging up the pores and increasing infections.
11.) Make Your Own Toner: 1 part apple cider vinegar and 8 parts filtered boiled water in a bottle and spritz on face after cleansing can reduce acne breakouts.
DRINK THESE JUICES TO IMPROVE ACNE:
AND Check out the FACE MAP: The location of your pimples means something.
There are some face maps that indicate the problem depending on the location of the acne (I always find this very interesting and relevant)…
Temples and forehead – this is commonly related to a food intolerance, excess processed foods, alcohol, unhealthy fats, poor blood sugar control and lack of hydration.
Between the eyes – this can be caused from poor liver and digestive health. Cut back on the sugar, sodas, caffeine, and alcohol and drink plenty of water and herbal teas for their natural cleansing effect.
Temples – this relates to the kidneys, drink more water and keep well hydrated.
Along the jaw-line and chin – is commonly related to hormonal disturbances and for some women this will be more evident leading up to your period. This is a critical time to get adequate sleep and rest.
Chin – can also mean it’s time to do that cleanse! This can be from eating heavy rich foods, high GI foods and lack of nutrients.
Cheeks – this can be related to your lung health – smoking, air pollutants & allergies can contribute.
Nose – this is related to the heart health – maintaining a healthy heart is important.
What have you found that has helped your acne?