Acne Vulgaris - Cystic Acne
NOTE: Holistic Natural Therapists, and Naturopaths are "Active Prevention Practitioners", they support a "body" in its inert capability to heal itself. Naturopathy is unique in its wellbeing approach by 'Activating' patients to participate and indeed take responsibility for their own health. - It is NOT a medical treatment.
Acne is often extremely hard to treat, the medical treatment esp. for severe deep acne is not without side effects. Acne is probably one of the most well known and dreaded skin problems today, and is present in about 95% of all adolescents.
Active Prevention makes sense, even so it is not a guaranty, it is however something which is highly recommended.
What does Active Prevention mean in the context of Acne? It means to be aware that getting it is a high possibility and therefore early education in personal hygiene and early adoption of proper skin care, nutrition and a favourable diet will definitely produce a good outcome..
There are no double blind tests or evidence, as active prevention is an individual approach. Clinical experience has shown that Active Prevention is effective and produces good outcomes.
Acne is probably one of the most well known and dreaded skin problems today, and is present in about 95% of all adolescents.
The pathogenesis is complex, most of the causative factors are known but treatment specifically for the more cystic form of Acne is far from being optimal.
Dermatologist seem to concentrate their treatment externally, or as last measure of desperation various prescription for antibiotics and hormonal agents with their associated risks, esp for a young teenager.
However, it is understandable that
all form of treatments are tried, fears of scaring, emotional distress even depression warrant often dramatic intervention.
Whatever treatment is given, Acne, being what it is, is not going to be "cured" overnight, which is one of the main reason, why the long term natural form of treatment, lifestyle changes and Active Prevention should be considered.
Many of the possible causative factors of Acne indicate that Natural Therapy can be a successful support.
We know Acne by it's outward appearance of Comedones, commonly know as either Blackheads (open) or Whiteheads (closed). Other signs are papules, knows as pinheads, and pustule (pimples).
Acne can be classified as superficial or deep, depending on the severity of the problem. In deep acne, inflamed nodules and pus-filled cysts are the norm, this is where most the scarring is developing from.
Acne affects mostly skin high of sebaceous follicles (connected to hair follicles); the face, shoulders, upper chest and back.
Acne is caused by complex metabolic interactions of hormones; keratinisation, keratin is deposited in cells, which become hardened; sebum, an oily, waxy substance and bacteria. Retention of sebum, resulting in dilation of follicles may lead to cyst formation, and rapture will release bacterial products into the surrounding tissue, causing inflammation, which if severe, will cause scarring within the healing process.
The common age for Acne is around the age of puberty. Hormonal changes and other metabolic functions are greatly stimulated, resulting in possible overproduction of acne causative factors.
There has been an increase in Acne generally, and more specifically in the over 20 age group, suggesting lifestyle, diet, possible environmental toxins and external application, even cleaning agent may be in part to blame for the rise.
General causes like; genetic - it seems to run in families, increased stress levels, nutritional deficiencies, high carbohydrate diet, humidity, chlorine from swimming pool - drinking water), oily skin, bad hygiene, environmental irritants, touching your face, using the phone, wearing hats, dirty or old pillows.
Lets progress to the interesting part ... how can acne be successfully controlled treated or even cured.
... this is where "enhanced" hygiene procedures are important.
If you had already a hard time, making your teenagers brush their teeth, than an enhanced hygiene routine may not be that easy to implement.
We are talking 2 to 3 times daily mild cleansing, without over-stimulating or irritating, without commercial cleansers, which may contain substances better avoided, without soaps or detergent or fancy cosmetics.
Soap may irritate the sebaceous glands which causes those glands to produce more sebum, leading to more blockages, and it is an alkalizing agent which will strip off your defensive acid mantle causing bacterial disbalance. Proliferation of bacteria and parasitic mites will aggravate inflammatory reactions.
Tea tree oil cleansers are used with success, where it can be compared to benzoyl peroxide but without excessive drying. Tea tree oil kills P. acnes, (Propionibacterium acnes) an anaerobic bacterium species, and it is an effective anti-inflammatory for skin infections.
Note: Don't open inflamed lesions. Don't pick the crusts, it will produce scars.
Sunlight will aid mild acne, it will cause mild dryness and slight scaling. Having mention sunlight, lets talk more about the sun, and the possible implication for or against acne.
We know that sun aids acne, we also know, that Vitamin D aids acne, in fact, in the late 40ties, Vitamin D received attention in the treatment of Acne by some Doctors in combination with calcium and a diet of lean meats, lots of green vegetables and fresh fruits, with a minimum of carbohydrates; and no sweets, chocolate, pastries, greasy or highly seasoned foods or soda fountain drinks.
Just remember this was 60 years ago, and it makes more sense today than ever. The general diet recommended now is basically the same, it's just called by different names, like low glycemic load diet, or zone diet just other names for low carbohydrate or no sugar diets.
Vitamin D is now widely recognise as a potent regulator of AMP (anti microbial peptides) .
Diets are most likely be too high in refined and processed food in general, and too high in carbohydrates /sugars /soft drinks specifically.
Diet modification will help, and not only will it help the Acne, it will also prevent new outbreaks, and it will help with associated possible problems at the same time.
And what about the sun, teenagers are probably more in the sun, pool and beach than adults, shouldn't that be a good thing?
Yes, one would think so, but on a second look, we see our effective "slip,slop, slap" sun block campaign, frightening the hell out of everyone. Well meaning, no doubt about that, and totally logical and understandable, no one ever should get sunburned, and better to be save than sorry.
But maybe we have lost the balance, we do need some sun exposure; and what do we actually slap onto our faces and bodies may be also questionable..
Sun blocks prevent the skin from getting burned by the sun, but what is that chemical concoction doing to a teenagers skin?
*There is another very important point to make, if sun is good, and we need it for our vitamin D production, is the possible explanation of Vit D being good for Acne the reason that the additional lack of Vitamin D because of Sun block usage has made Acne more prevalent?
NOTE: Not sure if there have been any trials in using Vit D supplementation for Acne? - ( If you know of any - contact me )
And still on the same topic, sun and pool and teenagers and "chlorinated pool water".
Chlorine can be one of the causative agents of acne, it causes dryness of the skin which results in more sebum production and acne. Most tap water contains chlorine too, combine that exposure to chlorine with that to the swimming pool and it may be far too much for the young adult skin.
By the way, you can get water filters for your shower.
First lets have a look at common medical treatments, which unfortunately maybe the only choice for some acne sufferers. However, as this treatment can be long standing drug intervention, all possible natural treatments should be considered, esp if they prevent further outbreaks..
In deep acne, residual scarring is considered foremost. Topical treatment is usually unsatisfactory for severe deep lesions. The best medical treatment is probably tetracycline a broad spectrum anti-biotic, it is said that it causes the least side effects. Usually treatment length is 4 weeks, but because of relapses, therapies may be continued for month or even years. Antibiotics will reduce the number of new inflamed cysts but have little effect on existing cysts. (not to mentioned the side effect of long standing treatment)
As we all know Prevention is better than a cure...
Knowing that acne will affect 95% of all adolescence, it may be a good idea to have a closer look at preventable lifestyle choices at an early age, or at least once the first skin lesion has reared it's ugly head ... so to speak.
Diet - what goes into your mouth? Years ago, it may have been considered that certain diet items cause Acne, such as chocolate. This has been proven to be a very limited view. The culprit, if it comes to diet, is much more general; too much carbohydrate - too much refined and processed food and junk - too much of the wrong fats, and not enough wholesome foods such as vegetables, fruits and lean meats. (and sorry, vegetarians get acne as well, esp if they are on a high carbohydrate grain diet)
Skin Care & Hygiene, start an early age routine, no soap - good mild natural cleansers and moisturizers.
Remember that your skin is you mantle of defence, it is called the acid mantle and it is your natural regulator for microbial balance. Hygiene is important, however stripping off lipids by excessive cleansing with alkalising agents such as soaps and detergents has a detrimental effect for acne sufferers.
Having taken the prevention steps, and feeling reassured and healthy, if acne still should present itself you may be now in a better position to respond with more specific natural treatments.
Diet - the diet has been mentioned as a low carbohydrate, low inflammatory type diet.
For more details see >> useNature Zonal Type Diet
Facial cleanser, I would recommend something which contains Tea tree oil to have not only a cleansing action but an anti-bacterial actions as well.
Home-made skin soother toner:
Make a triple strong tea from Chamomile and Calendula Flowers, let it cool down, store in a fridge and spray this on your face, or dab it onto your blemishes regularly.
Natural Home-made Acne Face Mask:
Clean and steam face with hot water for a few minutes to open the pores, after that, apply your face mask while your face is still warm. Peel or wash off after 20 to 30min.
A good face mask should be anti-fungal - anti-bacterial - cleansing and anti-inflammatory.
Face mask recipes should be altered according to skin type (oily or dry)
Simple Baking Soda Mask - one of the best recipe for nappy rush can work wonders for Acne.
Make a mixture of baking soda and warm water, and apply to the skin. Don't use too often as it is alkalising but very soothing.
Egg Yolk Mask - (Vit A ) Stir or whip the egg yolk till cream and apply to your face, to increase the drawing action, you can stir / whip in one teaspoon of plain white sugar -( finally sugar got a good application).
Sea Salt Mask - if you can't go to the beach for a swim in the ocean, splash and dampen your face for a few minutes in a saltwater solution, very cleansing.
Oatmeal Mask, this one is more for eczema, but does wonders for Acne as well. Blend a hand full of oatmeal with water, even add sea salt to the water, and mix till creamy and apply to your face.
Most of above Face Masks are base recipes, which can be further mixed with other natural products such as > Meluka Honey ( anti-bacterial) - Bio dynamic plain Yogurt - providing pro-biotics. 3-5 drops of essential oils such as Tea tree Oil. Fruit and vegetables, always considering if you got a dry skin or oily skin. People have used, cucumbers - avocados - bananas - fruit pulp or juices, (careful), even include Vit C powders or for dry skin, Vit E capsules.
Obviously, don't use any ingredient you may be allergic too.
I am not in favour of recommending general supplements, the preferred method is to find a suitable supplements for each individual patient.
The following list is just for consideration:
Vitamin A - Vitamin C - Vitamin D - B-complex - esp if stressed - Zinc can be very effective, it is essential for essential fat acid metabolism - some people may have problems absorbing Zinc ( have a zinc taste test to determine your zinc levels) - Omega 3 Oils (Salmon Oil) - Krill Oil
There are many Herbs which are used directly for treatment, here are some which are easily acquired > Dandelion Root Coffee - Ginger - Peppermint - Chamomile. - For more specific herbal remedies, which are mixed as a tincture for your specific problems, you need to see a Herbalist.
Consider Colonic irrigation
The digestive tract is considered as a possible factor of causing acne. Esp, in regards to possible candida, overgrowth of harmful bacterial, fungal or parasitic matter. Colonic irrigation will help in eliminating possible toxins as well as bringing back balance to your digestive tract.
It is of special consideration if the patient is constipated or not regular. With less impurities in your system there will be less interfering metabolic function causing acne.
Other possible beneficial Products:
Coconut Oil used to be in the bad books for acne, but this may have changed. The oil has a lot of benefits, external and internal, and may not clock up your pores, but rather aids the skin with its anti bacterial - viral and fungal action ..
.. read more here >> Coconut Oil Benefits
One important aspect of coconut I like to mention here, it is the only oil which is suitable for cooking or frying. One possible diet fact to cause or make Acne worse is fried food, frying with coconut oil may remedy this problem.
Other related Articles : Does your Skin like Dairy
the editor of Use Nature, Dieter Luske
Please contact me directly for more info or Research Participation: Dieter L. - Editor
* Disclaimer - Any general advice given in any article should not be relied upon and should not be taken as a substitute for visiting a qualified medical Doctor.
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Anthony von Moger
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