What causes acne? Acne is caused by the over-production of sebum by the sebaceous glands, which in turn causes the blockages of the pores with a sticky mass of oil and dead cells. Sounds disgusting!? This creates the perfect moist breeding ground for opportunistic bacteria, which is present on the skin. These bacteria, like P. acnes and Staph aureus convert this moist mass into compounds that cause the inflammation and raised areas. It is important to remember that pinching, squeezing, scratching or rubbing the acne will only exacerbate the acne.
In this article we look at natural herbal treatments for acne ranging from the topical, through to the supplemental, which includes vitamins and minerals.
One of the most popular remedies is tea tree oil in a gel base. Tea tree oil is an essential oil extracted from an Australian tree. It has been recommended for many, many years as a safe and effective treatment for acne. Tea tree is excellent for reducing the skin redness, plus because of its antibacterial properties it is effective at treating acne, particularly as studies have shown it to be effective against P. acnes and Staph aureus, the two strains of bacteria associated with acne. Interestingly in a study on Tea tree and benzoyl peroxide in 1990, in which researchers studied 124 acne patients – Tea tree was initially touted as not working as quickly as the benzoyl peroxide, which was the alternative treatment in this study. But, what the researchers did find was that the use of Tea tree resulted in a similar reduction in acne lesions after three months. Most interestingly patients using the Tea tree treatment reported considerably lower incidences of side effects such as dryness, irritation, itching, and burning. Although the topical treatment with Tea tree oil is considered safe for most adults, it is important to remember that it may cause an allergic skin reaction in some individuals. Please note that Tea tree oil should never be taken orally!
Alliteration here we come - Aloe for acne. One of the most soothing treatments for acne is Aloe vera gel. There are some nice Aloe vera gels that combine Tea tree and other effective essential oils for the treatment of acne, but it is also effective on its own. Look for the purest forms of the gel, which ones have the least amount of additives. Aloe vera gel is particularly soothing, but it also works as an anti-inflammatory, meaning it decreases redness and swelling. Aloe vera is also known for its antibacterial properties. It is best to apply it after cleansing and then apply it to the acne areas specifically.
Some individuals have found that Coconut oil is an effective treatment against acne; it is also a natural antibacterial and antifungal. The great thing about Coconut oil is that it is exceptionally moisturizing, and as most acne skins actually tend to need oils to help reduce the over-production of sebum it may be effective in some cases. It is also soothing, gentle on the skin as well as, helping combat the bacteria and diminish redness. How to use it is easy, apply the coconut oil to your skin and gently massage it in, it can be reapplied a couple times per day. Coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer, particularly great as it doesn’t clog pores. Most importantly when purchasing a Coconut oil use an organic unrefined coconut oil.
Next, when it comes to cleansing look for a cleanser containing Willow Bark. Salicylic acid has been used as a topical ingredient to decrease inflammation and exfoliate the skin for many years. Willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid. It is important to note that while salicylic acid may cause skin irritation in some individuals, willow bark is a more gentle method of exfoliation. Willow bark works by taking off dead skin, which in turn speeds up the turnover of cells, and accelerates the overall healing of skin. Alternatively look for a serum, for use at night that contains Willow Bark.
This may sound odd, but use and oil-based cleanser in the evenings. The great thing about oil cleansers is that they easily and quickly remove all traces of makeup, while leaving the skin super soft. The use of an oil cleanser also encourages the normalization of the skins oil production. It is important to remember that unlike soap based cleansers, which tend to cleanse off all the natural oils, as well as an oil based cleanser in conjunction with a facial oil treatment like coconut oil helps reduce the over production of sebum.
Yes your mom was correct, don’t touch your acne!! This means don’t scratch, pick, peel, pop, or rub at your skin. The treatment of the skin with topical remedies can make it particularly difficult to resist touching breakout areas, but resist one must. Touching your face occasionally will not be problematic, but repeated touching, picking or scratching will exacerbate the problem, as it slows down the healing process, which would go far more smoothly and efficiently if one resisted the urge to touch!
Yes, despite what many say, the masses still say what you eat matters! Firstly make a point to avoid all processed foods. Eat organic, fresh real foods and make sure to get enough omega fats in your diet, such as avocados, fatty fish and coconut oil. The ones that have been particularity pegged as problematic are dairy, including skimmed or low fat and the oh so obvious refined sugar.
The best supplements include:
• Zinc, normally 50mg and upwards is the recommended daily dosage. Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner as to the best dosages for yourself. Zinc can help reducing the inflammation and is extremely important for the healing of the damaged skin.
• Chromium, which helps regulate blood sugar levels. Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner as to the best dosages for yourself.
• Vitamin A (the natural form), which reduces sebum and keratin production. Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner as to the best dosages for yourself.
• Vitamin E, an excellent antioxidant, which helps the healing process and topically reduces scaring. Please consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner as to the best dosages for yourself, as supplements vary between 200 and 400 IU daily.
Go beat the acne and get out into the world acne-free!
About The Author:
After eight years in the retail side of the health industry, much accumulation of knowledge and information I changed industries completely and gone back to my graphic design roots. I still wish to help inform people on natural alternatives, as well as help people when they are choosing to use natural alternatives to treat disorders, diseases and distresses.
(Read more posts by Charlie)