Natural Remedies for Acne

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Update – Some folk have raised the question of whether Coconut oil is really an option for Acne or troubled skin. So after a further bit of research here’s my conclusions. When skin produces excessive oil it usually means that the skin is quite dry underneath and the pores produce the oil in response to the dryness. It’s important to not use creams and lotions that target only drying out the acne affected areas but to limit how much you use and in conjunction with an oil. The fact is when you apply a very thin layer of coconut oil the pores which control the sebum will actually slow down and then regulate as the upper layer of the skin is now being moisturised. Coconut oil is the perfect oil for using to help keep the layers of the skin well moisturised. It’s also the perfect oil for acne because of it’s antibacterial function which comes from it’s high level of lauric acid. A study on Lauric acid showed that it is 15 times more effective than Benzoyl Peroxide in killing acne causing bacteria. However in saying that, there is a small amount of people that may in fact react to the lauric acid. Read more about this in this article from Seppo at Acne Einstein. I still recommend it as a natural solution to acne but as with everything, you need to test if it works for your individual needs.

When I was in my teens I developed acne with a capital “A” for awful, agonising, atrocious and abominable! It was the most frustrating ailment to try and deal with.  Not only does it look dreadful but it makes you feel dreadful. My esteem went plummeting and my ability to relax with a group of friends went out the window. If only I had of known what I know today and had a few of these Natural Remedies for Acne up my sleeve.

A bit of inside info on acne

The internet has a plethora of information about everything including acne. Is it confusing? Yes. Is it overwhelming? Yes. Has it changed from when I was a teenager? No. While I didn’t grow up with the internet, the information is still the same. What causes acne gets mixed reports and theories. However the symptoms of acne are a bit clearer.

The following information comes from a book called “The Healthy Skin Diet” by Karen Fischer.

Acne is inflammation of the skin’s oil glands.  When you have acne, the glands grow unnaturally large and produce too much sebum, which appears oily.  This oily layer then mixes with the skin’s natural bacteria and dead skin cells and this liquid becomes THICK, like pancake batter, which blocks the skin’s pores and leads to acne.

  • Sebum is a mix of fats, proteins, cholesterol, salts and pheromones (FYI: pheromones are your sexual attraction hormones so you don’t want to cleanse them away!)
  • Sebum is your skin’s best friend. It keeps the skin soft, prevents excessive water loss and helps inhibit bacteria growth on the skin.
  • Sebum coats the surface of your hair to prevent it from becoming dry and brittle.

Standard acne TOPICAL creams and cleansers treat the surface symptoms such as bacterial infection and excess sebum, but remember that these symptoms are never the cause of your acne; they have been triggered by something.

Some of the causes of acne that are known:

Excess Hormones – Puberty brings on a surge of hormones which tell your sebaceous glands how much oil to produce. Too many hormones produces too much oil, so your oil glands grow bigger in order to be filled with the large amount of oil.

Acne is very hard to treat just from the outside. The best way to treat it is with an internal program as well as an external one.

Your liver is responsible for removing excess hormones and toxins. If your liver is overworked from poor diet and lifestyle habits of poor sleep, dehydration and lack of exercise then your blood stays loaded with toxins and hormones.

A good liver detox product will help. Make sure you are over 15 and only take it for up to 2 weeks unless instructed by a health professional.

Excess Oil Production – Control your oil production by eating foods high in omega 3 like fish and fish oil supplements, flaxseed and linseed. Cut out high GI foods such as pastries and other white flour products.

Zinc Deficiency – Zinc is another supplement that is vital for treating acne. Karen Fischer says:

Zinc helps to convert the fats found in nuts and seeds (omega – 6) into good prostaglandins.** Zinc is needed to manufacture (and release) many hormones, including the sex hormones, insulin and growth hormones. Oil gland activity is also regulated by zinc so zinc supplementation is very specific for treating acne.

Zinc is vital for teenagers. During the teenage years you develop at a rapid rate and this requires lots of zinc. Growth spurts can lead to zinc deficiency, which is bad news as the skin is the first to suffer when your body doesn’t have enough of this mineral. This is because the skin is low on the body’s priority list when your zinc is depleted – what little zinc you have is used for more important jobs such as DNA replication and fertility.

……Zinc deficiency is very common and can be caused by the following:

  • High calcium and salt intake.
  • Alcoholic beverages. Zinc is needed to detoxify alcohol so drinking alcohol (in large quantities) is probably the fastest way to diminish zinc stores.
  • Stress, coffee, tea, high fibre diets, menstruation and ejaculation (semen contains approximately 1-3mg of zinc)
You can purchase liquid tests for zinc deficiency at your health food shop or see a naturopath or other health professional.
**Prostaglandins send messages from your cells to your hormones so they can cause modifications in your body. Prostaglandins alter sebaceous gland secretions so they control how much oil is produced in the skin. As well as that they regulate hormones, inflammation, pain, temperature and fat metabolism. There are “good” and “bad” prostaglandins.  A healthy diet and a balanced lifestyle which includes good sleep, exercise, rest and relaxation will help promote the “good” prostaglandins.  The “bad” ones are produced when your diet is nutrient and mineral poor and your lifestyle lacks exercise and proper rest.

Another supplement to include in your diet is Chromium. Chromium is known for weight loss diets but is excellent at healing skin infections.

Intolerance to Dairy Products – Dairy products can also be associated with acne outbreaks. One particular study showed that dairy consumption increased the risk of acne and this may have been due to the animal hormones and bioactive molecules found in milk products. Removing dairy from your diet for a minimum of 2 months may help eliminate acne quickly.

Acne in Adults

Unfortunately for some people acne doesn’t stop by the early twenties. I was one of those people. I had acne until I was at least 30+. I was pregnant with my first child when I noticed that my skin had cleared dramatically. Adults can also experience acne for the first time as they move into their 40’s and 50’s. This is true often for women as they head into the menopause phase of their lives.

Remember to check if your liver is functioning properly and boost your diet with vitamin B complex, zinc, magnesium and calcium saccharate.

Does Candida cause Acne?

This is as much a question for me as it is for anyone. For me, my past health issues, I think would give some explanation as to why I suffered with such bad acne. Given that I had gut issues, IBS, poor digestion, low immunity and viral and fungal related conditions I just assumed that acne was part and parcel of the same thing. However of the 6 years that I suffered with what I can only conclude was a severe candida overgrowth, my skin remained clear leading me to believe that for some people maybe there isn’t a connection between the two.

However there are a lot of studies out there that do in fact link skin problems like acne to gut issues. Gut issues wreak havoc in so many areas of our body. They can alter our hormones, nutritional intake, mineral and vitamin supply and our mental and emotional state, which in turn can and most likely affect our skin.

If you would like to read more on this here are a couple of articles that I found interesting.

1. The Gut-Skin Axis

2. Is Your Acne caused by Candida

Finally…..

Natural Remedies For Acne

These are some really simple and easy steps that you can take that will help acne.

1. Skin care routine – It’s imperative to keep your skin washed and clean. That doesn’t mean that you want your skin to feel tight and squeaky. It means a light wash with some gentle cleanser and pat dry.  Be careful not to touch the skin too much as the bacteria can spread via your fingers and infect other parts of your face or torso. You can use an exfoliation glove or cloth, making sure it is only for that purpose. Following the cleanser apply any medicated creams or a good quality moisturiser. When applying moisturiser, first apply it to the skin area that’s acne free so you can limit the risk of cross contamination. Always apply minimal amounts of creams of moisturisers. If you have applied too much then blot the area with a tissue to remove excess cream.

2. Sun screens – Some skins will not like sunscreen but it is important to protect the acne skin from excess sun exposure.  Too much sun may cause acne scarring. One answer to a sun screen might be to use a moisturiser with SPF factor of 15. Then wear a hat or other protective clothing. Always patch test any creams you would like to try.

3.Saltwater – If you live near the beach and enjoy swimming then you are in luck. Salt water is anti-bacterial and is also alkaline. Plus you get the added bonus of a big dose of magnesium. Do this at least twice a week and leave the salt water on your skin for at least 1/2 hour after your swim. If you don’t live near the beach or are not keen on ocean swimming then use a salt water bath.

  • Saltwater bath – Wash your hands and make sure your face is clean and free of make-up. Fill a bowl with warm water, add 1/2 cup of natural sea salt and mix until dissolved (to speed up the dissolving process, add the salt to a cup of boiling water, stir and disperse in lukewarm water).
  • Splash your face with salt water or hold face under, on and off, for a few seconds each time. This should take about 1 minute, then wash off salt with fresh water and moisturise.
  • You can re-use this salt bath twice. To re-heat it, just add some boiling water or briefly heat it up on your stove. Always test the temperature before use.
4.Tea Tree Oil – Another quick spot treatment is to use tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has anti-inflammatory and broad spectrum antibacterial and anti fungal properties and can be used on milk or moderate pimples (but not severe acne). Dab a tiny amount directly onto the pimple and allow it to dry. Do not moisturise over the top.

5.Coconut Oil – Wash face or skin with mild cleanser and water and pat dry. Apply a thin layer of coconut oil and massage it into the skin. Do this every morning. Complexion may get worse at first as toxins are expelled from the skin, but will improve in a few weeks with continued application.

  • Hi Kerry, and thanks for linking to my blog (AcneEinstein.com). Just want to mention that I would be a bit careful with applying coconut oil on your skin. Tests show it’s comedogenic (I know it’s not a very reliable measurement though) and there’s some talk at acne forums about it causing breakouts.

    I would also suggest looking into green tea. There’s a quite a bit of research on the effect of green tea on acne, and it looks very promising. I’ve written about green tea several times on my blog 🙂

    • Hi Seppo, thanks for that tip. I will definitely check out your articles on green tea. 🙂