Acne is a chronic inflammatory condition of the sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are responsible for oil production in our skin. When they overproduce and become clogged with dead skin cells, acne begins to form.
Blackheads and whiteheads most commonly characterize acne. Blackheads are considered open comedones. They occur when excess oil accumulates in the skins sebaceous glands. Oxidation of our skins’melanin causes the comedone to appear black in color. Whiteheads are called closed comedones. They are composed of the same material as blackheads, but only have microscopic openings not allowing for oxidation.
Other common forms of acne are known as papules and pustules. Papules are raised lesions of the skin that appear to be red or inflamed. Pustules are similar, but appear more white and take on and infected appearance. Cysts are the most severe form acne takes. Cysts are pus- filled raised nodules. They require more in-depth healing solutions than other forms of acne.
Causes and Risk Factors
Triggers of acne can include diet, hormonal changes or imbalances, certain drugs, heredity, and the use of comodegenic products. Acne can affect anyone from teenagers to adults.
Diet can influence acne. There is no one food or food group that causes acne. Everyone has different triggers. A generally healthy diet consisting of whole grains, protein sources, vegetables, fruits is a good balance. If you notice a certain food creates acne flare-ups it could be a personal trigger for your acne.
Hormonal changes can contribute to acne as well. Certain hormones such as androgen and testosterone can increase the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands. This can lead to clogged pores. In women, hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menstrual cycle, and birth control pills can trigger acne. Teenagers experience high levels of hormonal changes, which could play a part in the high instance of acne in teens and young adults.
Stress is a contributing factor for almost everyone. There are two main types of stress, emotional and physical. Emotional stress includes the internal stressors in our lives. Anxiety over a big event, bullying at school, relationship concerns, issues at work, and concern over a loved ones’ health are emotional stressors. Physical stress occurs outside of our bodies. From a hectic schedule to a sedentary lifestyle, physical stress affects us all. The key is to learn how to handle your stressful in a healthy, positive way.
By consuming a healthier diet, monitoring hormonal changes, and lowering external stressors, acne can be reduced and possibly alleviated. People living with acne should pay close attention to personal triggers and use these healing solutions to combat the condition.
The first step in healing naturally is changing your diet and instead practicing what John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America, calls the New Diet for America. Robbins suggests cutting out genetically engineered foods, eliminating meat and animal products, switching from refined carbohydrates to whole grains, buying organic, and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed. This will not only help control acne, but will also promote an over all healthier body and lifestyle.
Healing the body naturally means consuming more raw fruits and vegetables. They are nutritious and are mostly alkaline, which is beneficial to the body’s pH. Drinking plenty of water is another way to heal. Our body depends on water for nearly every necessary function and without it the body slows. Water will flush toxins out of your system and is another way to purge your skin of the waste that is contributing to acne. Alkaline water is thought to be most beneficial to the body. If alkaline water isn’t available, other great options include:
- Electrolyte- enhanced water
- Structured water
- Distilled water
Remember to think about what goes on the skin. Commercial face products generally contain some harmful chemicals. DHerbs and several other natural skin care lines carry all-natural soaps that are a good alternative. Deep cleaning the face with a loofah brush or a wet cotton towel in a circular motion will assist in opening up pores. Remember to use warm water to open the pores and cool water to close the pores after cleansing. For an additional deep clean, use a facial steamer periodically.
Clays are a great natural cleanser as well. They should be used periodically due to their drying nature. Clays can be beneficial to acne prone skin. A few notable clays that can be used for cleansing are:
- Bentonite clay
- French green clay
- Moroccan red clay
Avoid using anything harsh on the skin, including alcohols. Good alternatives to alcohol are tea tree oil and witch hazel. Make sure to read the labels before selecting a witch hazel product, as some contain minimal amounts of alcohol.
Oils and butters can be great body products. Be sure to use botanical oils on the skin. Some good botanical oils are:
- Coconut oil
- Avocado oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Rose hip seed oil
- Olive oil
- Kukui nut oil
- Babassu oil
- Palm kernel oil
- Grapeseed oil
Botanical butters are generally derived from different trees. They are highly therapeutic and soothing for the skin. Here is a list of botanical butters that work well on the body:
- Shea butter
- Kpangan butter
- Coconut butter
Herbs that may benefit acne sufferers are:
- Oregon Grape
- Yellow Dock Root
- Burdock Root
- Dandelion Root
- Echinacea Root
- Goldenseal Root
- Devil’s Claw