By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Acne can be treated using natural remedies
The cause of acne can be found deep in your hair follicles. Each hair follicle has a sebaceous gland connected to it. This gland secretes sebum, an oil and wax mixture that keeps your skin moist and lubricated.
During hormonal changes (such as puberty, menstruation and perimenopause) and times of stress, you experience an increase in male hormones (androgen).
This causes changes in the pH of the skin and over-stimulates the sebaceous gland, which responds by secreting excess sebum. This in turn creates the skin lesions we call acne.
Acne can go through three stages. Blackheads are the first stage. They occur when sebum and oil block skin pores. Most of the oil in the pores is white, but the oil that is exposed to the air on the skin surface turns black. As the pore becomes clogged, bacteria multiply and inflammation sets in, setting up stage two – whiteheads.
With this stage, the oil has no pore opening to the outside and drainage cannot occur. Cysts form underneath the skin and become infected. Your body responds to this by sending white blood cells to fight the infection.
The result is a whitehead on the surface of the skin. If the cysts are too deep to be seen through the skin’s layers, they can cause the third stage – cystic acne. These cysts are hard and deep and can be extremely painful to the touch.
A variety of approaches, including diet, supplements and topical treatments, are recommended to treat acne. First, avoid refined sugar and foods high in sugar. Like androgens, sugary foods over-stimulate your sebaceous glands and can trigger excess oil production. Refined sugar can also contribute to blood sugar imbalances, which can worsen symptoms of anxiety and stress. Stress can lead to breakouts.
Sugar depletes your store of B-complex vitamins, which help to balance your mood, energy and anxiety level. B vitamins are also needed to help keep your level of androgens within the optimal range.
While your ovaries and adrenals produce androgens, their levels are regulated, in part, by your liver. As your main organ of detoxification, your liver also relies on B vitamins in order to function efficiently.
Next, you should include vitamin A in your diet. Vitamin A not only helps to improve the overall health of your skin; it is especially helpful in suppressing oily skin and acne. In fact, one study found that high doses of vitamin A helped to clear up even the most severe cases of acne in 90 percent of the people treated with the vitamin. Since too much vitamin A can adversely affect liver function, take its water-soluble precursor-beta-carotene. Dosages between 15,000 and 25,000 IU daily should provide you with adequate skin protection.
Treat any breakouts that do occur with tea tree oil. The antiseptic properties have been used for centuries to clean and treat wounds. Even the early settlers of Australia and metal workers during the Second World War used this camphorous-smelling essential oil to treat cuts and insect bites. After washing the infected area, Place one drop of Australian tea tree oil directly on the blemishes and they should begin to disappear.