Acne is an inflammatory disease involving the hair follicles and sebaceous glands of the skin characterized by papules or pustules also known as comedones or simply plugs. This common skin condition (especially in young adults) is marked by the eruption of pimples, sometimes painful, on the surface of the skin.
Acne is characterized by black heads, pimple outbreaks, cysts, infected abscesses, and sometimes scarring. The places in your body most susceptible to acne are locations with the most oil glands such as the face and forehead. This inflammatory condition can also affect the arms, back and chest.
Inflammatory – Closed papules that have become red, irritated and severely inflamed. In some cases rupture can occur underneath the surface of the skin causing scarring.
Non-Inflammatory – Oil trapped underneath the surface of the skin forming the so called white-heads or blackheads.
Acne rosacea is the variety affecting middle aged women and men. It is characterized by red eruptions and pustules without the formation of blackheads.
Propionibacterium acne is the normal bacteria that resides on the surface of the skin. It functions to protect your skin from harmful foreign bacteria. When these bacteria grow inside the oil trapped in a hair follicle the result is the transformation of the oil by the bacteria’s chemical processes. This alteration causes irritation and inflammation on the surface of the skin. This inflammation is the body’s way of trying to eliminate the irritating compounds produced by the bacteria.
Androgens are the hormones that are primarily responsible for the stimulation and secretion of sebum or oil underneath the surface of the skin. During puberty there is a significant increase of androgens which can cause blockages. Hormonal changes affect the oil glands underneath the surface of the skin causing an increased out-put of oils. If the pores become blocked from the collection of skin cells inside a pore then this oil becomes trapped causing all the symptoms of acne. Hormones are greatly affected by diet and will be discussed below.
Stress can have a direct effect on the hormones thus contributing to excess sebum production in the oil glands beneath the surface of the skin. This can have a cyclic result because you can develop stress from the way acne affects your appearance.
Ironically many beauty products and pharmaceutical creams claiming to be helpful in treating acne not only do not work, but they actually make acne worse in many cases. This is because oil based products that are not all natural contain rancid oils and oil compounds mixed with petroleum-derived chemicals as preservatives. This causes allergic reactions, a build-up of toxins, the clogging of pores and other conditions that make acne worse.
The following should be supplemented if you are not getting enough from your dietary intake:
Vitamin A – it works to strengthen the skin’s protective tissue and prevents acne formation by reducing sebum production.
B Vitamins – each of the B vitamins has a specific role in promoting healthy skin, and many of them compliment each other. Besides direct effects in enhancing your skin tone, B-complex vitamins are also considered to play a role in reducing stress, which can indirectly aid in preventing acne since many studies show that stress contributes to acne formation
Chromium – it can combat acne by reducing infections in the skin.
Selenium – it aids skin elasticity and can also assist in acne relief through diminishing inflammation of the skin.
Zinc – it can help prevent acne because it aids in regulating the activity of your oil glands.
Wholefood supplements are the best way of ensuring your nutritional needs are met.
Essential oils have an abundance of therapeutic properties including anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, astringent, cleansing, calming and balancing. When used correctly, the oils penetrate deep down into the skin cells to nourish, heal and harmonise.
To ensure positive results, always check that the essential oil is a 100% pure plant distillation and that it comes from a reputable source.
The oils can be used separately or combined but must always be blended with a carrier oil, as they are extremely potent. For acne conditions, jojoba oil is a great carrier to use because it is non-greasy but moisturising and helps clean the pores. Another recommended carrier oil is grape seed oil.
The oils can be used in the following ways:
As a direct spot treatment (combined with a carrier oil or natural gel & used directly on problem areas. The essential oils should not exceed a 2% dilution.)
As a steam treatment.
As a face mask when combined with facial clay.
As a skin toner.
Essential oils that are beneficial for acne include:
Tee Trea oil – antiseptic, anti-bacterial, it heals the skin and reduces outbreaks and blemishes, eases itching and inflammation.
Neem Oil– anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.
Niaouli oil – decongests and clears oily skin.
Palmarosa oil –antiseptic, stimulates cell regeneration, regulates sebum, fades scars.
Thyme Linalol oil (a special, gentle variety of thyme) – a natural fungicide, purifying and cleansing.
Peppermint oil –reduces oil production, relieves irritation and reduces inflammation and redness.
Rose Otto oil – probably the best for acne although quite expensive it is a powerful healer and cleanser.
Lavender oil – gentle and soothing, anti-bacterial, reduces redness, heals damage, softens scarring.
Guggulipid (Commiphora mukul) an indian herb known for reducing acne lesions
Echinacea and white willow bark are antibacterial and anti-fungal – a useful remedy for acne and boils
Yellow dock, pau d’arco and zambroza can help to reduce inflamed areas on the skin.
Specifically for women:
The herb Agnus castus, probably through its hormone-balancing effects, has also been found to be of benefit in treating acne.
Wild yam and chaste tree – balance the glandular system, with an emphasis on female hormone activity.
Flower Essence Therapy – The Bach Flower Remedy Crabapple deals with the emotional and mental patterns of self-dislike as well as aiding in cleansing and detoxification. It is the most popular flower remedy in treating skin conditions. It can be taken orally, with 3 drops added to water 3 times a day and can also be applied directly onto the skin.
Juice Therapy – Drink 2 glasses of freshly extracted juice daily, include plenty of green vegetables and sweeten with carrot.
Honey & Cinnamon Paste: Mix two tablespoons of powdered cinnamon with three tablespoons of honey, stir and then apply the paste to pimples before bed. Wash with warm water the following morning and then continue the process for the rest of the week.
Try reflexology to work the liver, adrenals, kidneys, intestines and thyroid.