What is Acne?
Acne is a common skin disorder that occurs in two forms:
- Superficial: affecting the hair follicles and oil-secreting glands of the skin and manifesting as blackheads, whiteheads and inflammation.
- Cystic: a more severe form with deep cyst formation and subsequent scarring
In both forms, the lesions occur predominately on the face, back, chest and shoulders.
Although acne is usually not a serious health threat, it can be a source of significant emotional distress and severe acne can lead to permanent scarring.
An estimated 80% of all people between the ages of 11 and 30 have acne outbreaks at some point. For most people, acne tends to go away by the time they reach their 30s. However, some people in their 40s and 50s continue to have acne problems.
What Causes Acne?
There are numerous factors that can contribute to acne, including hormonal imbalance, oily skin, monthly menstrual cycles and the systemic yeast condition candida.
In addition, Acne is most common at puberty due to increased levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. Although men have higher levels of testosterone than women, during puberty, there is an increase of this hormone in both sexes, making the girls in this age group just as susceptible to acne.
Also, heredity or genetics play a role: if one of your parents had acne during puberty, there is a chance that you might have it also.
Stress, high humidity, pollution, pressure from sports helmets, tight collars, tight sports uniforms, are factors that can make existing acne worse.
Helpful Dietary Tips:
In the field of nutrition, no area is more important to me than the foods that help us get better skin.
Diet can play a huge role in managing skin conditions, from acne through to eczema and psoriasis.
Here’s my top food for keeping your skin in check:
Zinc is important in normal skin function. During puberty, there is an increased requirement for Zinc due to increased hormonal production. Typically, serum Zinc levels are lower in 13 to 14 year-old males than in any other age group. Therefore, this group is the most susceptible to acne.
Several studies showed that Zinc supplementation has been shown to be as effective as tetracycline for the treatment of acne but without the side effects. Thus, I encourage teenage boys to include in their daily food regime:
- Whole grains
As they have good amounts of zinc.
Papaya is used for a number of different home remedies because of its anti-inflammatory properties and its high antioxidant content such as vitamins A, C and E. These vitamins help strengthen the body so that it can fight and prevent acne breakouts.
It is another natural remedy for acne that can be incorporated into your daily diet. Actually, ground flaxseed is often included in many pimple formulas because it can help irritation, formation of acne and skin dryness.
Drink plenty of water:
The connection between drinking water and acne is often overlooked. Yet, dehydration is one of the most prevalent underlying conditions that can lead to chronic or acute acne.
When the body is not sufficiently hydrated, the skin is the first site that is affected in the body’s water conservation management program. When dehydrated, the skin loses moisture and there is less circulation to the skin area to provide essential nutrients.
Eat at least 4 to 5 servings of raw fruits and vegetables daily.
Fruits are especially beneficial because they of their water content, nutrient value and cleansing effect.
Focus on carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, apricots, cantaloupes, peaches, asparagus, broccoli, pumpkin and mangoes, which are rich Beta-Carotene (Vit. A). This is a type of antioxidant that actually builds up in the skin, helping to reduce inflammation. The beta carotene also serves to protect the proteins in our skin that keep it supple, which adds a nice anti-ageing benefit to the mix too. Increasing your intake of these foods will help keep the skin smooth.
Oily fish are rich in omega 3, which has benefits for just about every other body system you can think. Fish like mackerel, herring, trout and salmon are great sources of the oil – they’ll noticeably improve the quality of your skin very quickly. Try to have 3 serving of these fish weekly.
Onion and Garlic:
Sulphur is often referred to as ‘the face lift nutrient’. It strengthens the fibrous strands in our skin, which helps skin cells hold their shape, reducing wrinkles and sagging. Increasing sulphur intake makes skin a little tougher and more resilient to environmental damage.
Several studies have also shown that sulphur-rich foods can improve acne, although how and why still remains unclear.
Foods to Be Eliminated
Western Diet may be a major factor in the development of acne
Milk and All Dairy Food:
A 2005 article in the “Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology” found, after examining the diets of 47,355 women, a strong connection between milk and milk products intake and acne breakouts. Another study of 4273 teenaged boys also found an association between milk and acne flare-ups.
Because the majority of cow milk contain high levels of growth hormones (BGH) that can send oil glands into overdrive and cause so many other health problems.
So, the best advice is to switch to Almond Milk and cut down on cheese, ice cream and other dairy products.
What is interesting to know is that SKIM MILK seems to be more inflammatory than whole and low fat milk. Researches aren’t sure why but they think that the way the skim milk is processed could make the hormones more available so that they have a stronger effect. Also, may be because whole or low fat milk have higher level of estrogen that can reduce acne and may offset the other hormones.
The Journal of Drugs in Dermatology published findings on the relationship of carbohydrates and the severity of acne. It’s now official – the refined carbs you’re eating are making your acne worse. They aren’t the direct cause of the disease, but they do have a recognized negative impact.
A diet with high glycemic index- mainly white sugar, white bread, white flour, and refined grains that are quickly broken down into sugar- can have a terrible effect on the skin because sugar feeds bacteria and lead to increase sebum production and clogged pores.
There were a lot of other chemical interactions, but the bottom line is that bread, sugary foods, sodas and refined flours all help contribute to pimples and acne and oily skin.
I recommend teenagers and other people suffering from acne to follow a dairy-free and low glycemic diet for at least 6 months. Giving up dairy alone can be enough to cure acne.
Also, follow your own instincts and listen to your body. If you suspect a specific food is causing you breakouts, eliminate it for at least 4 weeks and see if your skin improves.
Other Helpful Tips:
- Avoid exposure to oils and greases.
- Avoid the use of greasy creams or cosmetics.
- Avoid face rubbing and touching which will increase the possibility of infection and spread of infection.
- Wash you face twice a day. Do not over wash it even if you are using an oil-free cleanser.
- Always use sunscreen. The UVB rays can create more acne, deeper scarring or discolor the skin around the pimples.
- Clean your make up brushes after every use to keep oil and dirt away from your pores.
Medical Treatment & Risks
Medical treatments vary according to the severity of the condition. However, conventional acne treatments don’t always work for everyone and they can cause side effects ranging from skin irritation to birth defects.
Another concern, since antibiotics are used in so many conventional acne treatments, is “Antibiotic Resistance”. A study in UK reported that more than one out of every two acne patients treated with antibiotics carried resistant strains of 2 different bacteria often found on the skin.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE TAKING DOXYCYCLINE 100mg:
Doxycycline is a tetracycline antibiotic. It fights bacteria in the body.
Children should not use this medicine. Doxycycline can cause permanent yellowing or graying of the teeth in children younger than 8 years old.
To make sure doxycycline is safe for you; tell your doctor if you have:
- Liver disease;
- Kidney disease;
- A history of increased pressure inside your skull;
- If you take seizure medicine or a blood thinner
Do not use doxycycline if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby or cause permanent tooth discoloration later in life. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant during treatment.
Doxycycline can make birth control pills less effective.
Doxycycline passes into breast milk and may affect bone and tooth development in a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are taking this medicine.
Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date on the label has passed. Using expired doxycycline can cause damage to your kidneys.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Doxycycline can make you sunburn more easily. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.
TIP: CHECK FREQUENTLY YOUR MICROALBUMIN IN URINE WHILE TAKING THE MEDICINE TO MONITOR YOUR KIDNEYS.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE TAKING ACCUTANE:
Accutane is used to treat severe nodular acne. It is usually given after other acne medicines or antibiotics have been tried without successful treatment of symptoms.
Accutane is linked to serious side effects like birth defects, thoughts of suicide, depression and bowel disorders. Roche stopped manufacturing it in 2009, but there was no official recall.
However, generic Accutane versions remain available, which are sold as Amnesteem, Claravis, Sotret and generic isotretinoin.
Accutane causes high liver toxicity potential; therefore, you should undergo frequent laboratory investigations concerning the liver function.
Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN)
Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner (RNCP)
“The Encyclopaedia of Healing foods” by Dr. Michael Murray & Dr. Joseph Pizzorno.
“Pathology & Nutrition” a guide for professionals.