Acne: Spot the Difference
by Michele Carelse
Beauty is more than skin deep, right? Of course! However, unfortunately, and as unfair as it may seem, the face is the ‘advertising billboard’ of our body. It is the first part of the body we see and subconsciously identify with upon meeting strangers, making friends or meeting a member of the opposite sex. The face gives away emotion, and often, the state of our health.
At some point in our lives, we have all experienced horror at the emergence of a pimple or two on our faces. However for some people, that pimple or two may get completely out of control and develop into a condition called acne.
What is acne and what causes it?
Acne is a skin condition that affects the skin’s oil glands (sebaceous glands) and results in clogged pores and flare-ups of lesions or pimples.
The main causes of acne are:
- Spreading of infection (from blocked oil ducts in the pores of the skin)
- Genetics (will most likely affect you if other family members had acne)
- Hormonal changes (during puberty, or monthly periods)
- Certain medications (steroids, anticonvulsants, hormones or birth control pills)
- Skin cosmetics (moisturizers, makeup and cosmetics clog the pores of the skin)
- Environmental conditions (humidity)
Acne is the plague of many teenagers and young adults and can result in embarrassment, social withdrawal and low self-esteem. Even more mature people as well as women going through pregnancy or the menopause can suffer from acne due to hormonal imbalance, stress and unhealthy lifestyles. Although acne is not life-threatening, it can cause scarring. If left untreated, acne can also lead to deep emotional issues such as low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.
What can be done – and are there any risks?
Conventional treatment methods:
In order to remove pimples as quickly as possible and to prevent the spread of infection, many people use products like astringents and salicylic acid to dry out the pimples. While this can have a temporary effect it often makes things worse with patches of dry flaking skin added to the acne.
Mild to moderately severe acne may be treated with over-the-counter gels, lotions, and creams such as benzoyl peroxide that is applied directly to the skin. However, this may affect the delicate pH balance of the skin and cause further problems. Oral antibiotics, contraceptive pills or strong medications may also be prescribed to reduce inflammation. Once again, however, all these medications can cause a variety of negative (and sometimes very unpleasant) side effects; the long-term effects of which are sometimes unknown – and so it is important that you research your options thoroughly.
Is there a natural approach to treat acne?
YES! For years, nature has held the secret to beautiful skin – ask yourself this: “How many tribal and indigenous people suffer with acne?” The answer, is none! This is due to the fact that they have used these special natural ingredients for centuries… here are some examples:
- Tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is a traditional remedy of the Aboriginal tribes of Australia. Studies have shown that it has exceptional benefits for the skin. (Bassett IB, Pannowitz DL, Barnetson RS. A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. Med J Aust 1990;153(8):455-458.)
- Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is an indigenous shrub which grows exclusively on the slopes of the Cedarberg Mountains in the Western Cape province of South Africa and has been used by traditional healers of the area for centuries. Known worldwide for its anti-oxidant properties, the soothing effect of Rooibos on the skin is also evident. (Sasaki YF, Yamada H, Shimoi K, et al. The clastogen-suppressing effects of green tea, Po-lei tea and Rooibos tea in CHO cells …’ Mutat Res 1993;286(2):221-232. )
- Bitter aloe (Aloe ferox) is derived from a hardy plant indigenous to the south eastern Cape of South Africa; aloe was even used in Ancient Egypt, supporting the skin of the royal family! Studies have shown this plant to have fantastic benefits for skin health. (Paulsen, E., Korsholm, L., and Brandrup, F. “A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of a commercial Aloe vera gel in the treatment of slight to moderate psoriasis vulgaris”. J Eur Acad.Dermatol Venereol 2005;19(3):326-331.)
- Witch hazel (Hamamelis virginianum) is a plant whose integral component is in the medicine chest of many Native Americans, and for very good reason! Hamamelis is known for its astringent properties and has an excellent toning effect on the skin. (Deters, A., Dauer, A., Schnetz, E., Fartasch, M., and Hensel, A. “High molecular compounds (polysaccharides and proanthocyanidins) from Hamamelis virginiana bark: influence on human skin keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation and influence on irritated skin”. Phytochemistry 2001;58(6):949-958.)
- Neem (Azadirachta indica) is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for its cleansing and soothing properties. It has been studied in modern medicine for its ability to promote skin health. (Pandey, S., Jha, A., and Kaur, V. “Aqueous extract of neem leaves in treatment of psoriasis vulgaris.” Indian Journal of Dermatol Venereol Leprol 1994;60(2):63-67.)
Tips to help care for acne, prevent breakouts and scarring:
- Eat a healthy, well balanced diet which includes fresh fruit and vegetables
- Drink eight glasses of water a day to flush the toxins from the body. Herbal remedies can also help to detox the body and promote liver health
- Exercise regularly to increase oxygen to the skin
- Reduce your caffeine intake
- Avoid touching your face with your fingers
- Never pop pimples, as this will only lead to swelling and scarring!
- Remove make-up before going to bed as it clogs the pores
- Shampoo hair more regularly and keep it out of your face to prevent oil and dirt from clogging the pores
- Shower after exercise and workouts because the sweat and the oils in the skin traps dirt and bacteria
- Avoid wearing clothes that may irritate the skin if acne develops on your body
- Wear a sunscreen when you go outside
- Stop smoking, as it worsens acne
- Develop a good skincare routine that involves cleansing your skin in the mornings, evenings and after workouts.
By adjusting your lifestyle and incorporating a healthy diet, exercise, drinking lots of water and getting adequate sleep will also help to make a significant difference to your skin’s appearance.
MediAc™ Homeopathic remedy reduces acne including blackheads and whiteheads on the face and body