Treatments for Acne – Natural, Conventional and Mind-Body Medicine

Acne is caused by blocked hair follicles which get infected, causing inflammation and resulting in the dreaded pimple, aka zit. no one knows the exact cause of acne, though it correlates with hormonal fluctuations especially during adolescence, as well as with stress and unclean skin. Closed-pore pimples have the common whitehead appearance, while open-pore pimples manifest as blackheads. the severity of acne depends on the degree of the infection and inflammation, and in some cases very inflamed pimples can rupture leading to the formation of nodules and cysts.

Most people will get acne at some point in their lives, but the degree to which people suffer from it varies quite a bit. Acne usually occurs on the face, neck, and back, though it can appear in other areas of well. because it tends to show up in areas that are visible to the eye, acne can become a tedious and overwhelming issue for people, especially if it is severe or lasts for many years.

Conventional Treatments for Acne

Typical over the counter treatments for acne will involve either benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Many products, such as the popular ProActiv, use both in their acne treatments. Benzoyl peroxide helps to reduce acne by introducing oxygen to the environment, which kills the bacteria responsible for producing acne. Salicylic acid penetrates the blocked hair follicle, exfoliating dead skin cells to clear up the pore. Effectiveness of these products varies from person to person. Common side effects of both medications are irritation and redness of the skin, dryness and peeling, and sensitivity to sunlight or touch.

For more persistent cases of acne, prescription medicines such as topical retinoids, azelaic acid, and topical antibiotics can be used to help further kill bacteria-causing acne and increase removal of dead skin cells. In severe cases, antibiotics or isotretinoin (formerly sold as Accutane) can be prescribed and taken internally, but these can pose a number of serious side effects, most notably weak immunity and antibiotic-resistant bacteria with antibiotics, and miscarriage or severe birth defects in the case of isotretinoin.

In the case of women, birth control pills are often helpful in controlling acne. they do this by controlling the level of androgens produced by the body, which are correlated with an increased incidence of acne. while this method has shown an improvement in acne for at least 80% of women, it comes with the typical side effects associated with birth control such as increased risk for cardiovascular issues or breast cancer.

Natural Treatments for Acne

There is no natural miracle cure for acne, otherwise we’d all know about it and the rest of the acne treatment world would be out of business. But many people are seeking an alternative to the often harsh conventional treatments, or have had little luck and would like to try another route. one of the benefits of taking a natural approach to treating acne, is that a good natural remedy for acne will involve treating the body from the inside out, combining both topical treatment and internal supplements in helping to address the source of the outbreaks.

    • Herbal medicines taken topically will have antibacterial, nourishing, soothing and anti-inflammatory effects. Examples of medicinal herbs are lavender, tea tree, aloe, chamomile, cucumber, green tea, and allantoin, among many other potential candidates.
  • In addition, vitamins that help improve the health of the skin can be added to topical creams or gels or taken internally. Vitamins A, pantothene (vitamin B), C, D, and E all have beneficial effects on the skin, helping to reduce oils and improve the health of skin cells.
  • Acne often involves hormonal imbalance, specifically hormonal spikes which involve the increased production of androgens. Balancing hormonal levels can be aided through the use of herbal supplements such as maca root, vitex, or black cohosh.
  • The accumulation of toxins in the body correlates with acne. the liver is a major organ involved in detoxifying the blood, and herbs such as milk thistle, burdock, and dandelion root can help improve liver function and increase detoxification. Note: during a liver detox, it is common for acne symptoms to temporarily worsen before they improve, as the body flushes out toxins.
  • The digestive system is also related to toxins in the body, and outbreaks of acne increase when digestion is slowed by chronic constipation. A quality fiber formula, or adding fiber to your diet can help keep digestion healthy and reduce the buildup of toxins in the body.
  • Your immune system is involved in the process of fighting bacteria-causing acne, so a weakened immune system can lead to increased outbreaks. while it can help acne temporarily to take natural herbs to strengthen the immune system such as echinacea or goldenseal, most likely there is an underlying cause behind a weakened immune system. Usually this involves chronic stress or lack of sleep, which can disturb the balance of the immune system as well as the hormonal systems in the body. Herbs such as ashwaghanda, rhodiola, licorice, or holy basil can help balance stress hormones such as cortisol and improve quality of sleep.

Other tips for dealing with acne naturally:

    • Drink plenty of water, it makes a big difference. this helps increase circulation, flush out waste and toxins from the skin, and keep the immune system healthy.
  • Exercise regularly. Again this will help improve metabolism and circulation, and helps to strengthen the immune system and prevent acne breakouts.
  • Sometimes people have responses to certain foods which will trigger acne breakouts. If you are aware of particular foods in your diet that make acne worse, do your best to avoid these.
  • Drinking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with water a couple of times per day provides antibacterial properties as well as improves digestion.

The Mind-Body Connection in Acne

This is an often overlooked element of acne, but a strong factor in chronic outbreaks. as mentioned above, chronic stress is correlated with acne, and mental and emotional patterns involved in increasing stress will increase the chances you have a breakout of acne. When the body releases an overabundance of stress hormones it has a number of effects on the body, including disrupting hormonal balance and weakening the immune system. So if stress is a factor in your acne breakouts, changing your lifestyle to reduce stressful situations, or examining the thoughts or feelings that are causing you stress can help with acne.

Another thing to consider, which may sound weird at first, is that your acne may be serving a purpose. Acne can cause people to feel as if it is holding them back from doing the things they want to in life, and it can become a problem that is easy to obsess about. But at the same time, perhaps thinking constantly about acne poses a safer, known problem, versus the greater fears or insecurities regarding achieving the successes you want. In other words, acne may be a crutch, or an excuse which provides a rationale for not going for the things you want in life. If this is rings a bell, don’t let your acne hold you back. Pursue the things you want in your life regardless of whether you have acne or not, and you may find that having acne no longer serves a purpose and will go away.

Particularly for people who have suffered from acne for a long time, it can feel sometimes like an issue that will never go away. Start by challenging this belief, and then regardless of what methods you use to treat your acne your chances of resolving it will increase dramatically.

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