Skin care tips to help you put your best face forward
Break Free from Acne Breakouts
Clear the way for a clear complexion with a few simple, yet effective, acne fighting actions. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful:
- Clean your skin. Washing with cleaning lotions and using oil-removing pads can help control acne.
- Use acne-fighting lotions. Lotions that contain niacinamide gel (4%) and tea tree oil (5%) can be helpful.
- Try zinc. 60 to 90 mg a day of this mineral improves some people's acne.
- Add copper. If taking extra zinc, your body will need 1 to 2 mg each day of copper to avoid deficiency of this mineral.
Common acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is an inflammatory condition of the sebaceous glands of the skin. It consists of red, elevated areas on the skin that may develop into pustules and even further into cysts that can cause scarring.
Acne vulgaris occurs mostly on the face, neck, and back of most commonly teenagers and to a lesser extent of young adults. The condition results in part from excessive stimulation of the skin by androgens (male hormones). Bacterial infection of the skin also appears to play a role.
What are the symptoms?
Acne is a skin condition characterized by pimples, which may be closed (sometimes called pustules or "whiteheads") or open (blackheads), on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders. Most acne is mild, although some people experience inflammation with larger cysts, which may result in scarring.
Dietary changes that may be helpful
Many people assume certain aspects of diet are linked to acne, but there is not much evidence to support this idea. Preliminary research found, for example, that chocolate was not implicated. Similarly, though a diet high in iodine can create an acne-like rash in a few people, this is rarely the cause of acne. In a preliminary study, foods that patients believed triggered their acne failed to cause problems when tested in a clinical setting. Some doctors of natural medicine have observed that food allergy plays a role in some cases of acne, particularly adult acne. However, that observation has not been supported by scientific studies.
Vitamins that may be helpful
In a double-blind trial, topical application of a 4% niacinamide gel twice daily for two months resulted in significant in improvement in people with acne. However, there is little reason to believe this vitamin would have similar actions if taken orally.
Several double-blind trials indicate that zinc supplements reduce the severity of acne. In one double-blind trial, though not in another, zinc was found to be as effective as oral antibiotic therapy. Doctors sometimes suggest that people with acne take 30 mg of zinc two or three times per day for a few months, then 30 mg per day thereafter. It often takes 12 weeks before any improvement is seen. Long-term zinc supplementation requires 1–2 mg of copper per day to prevent copper deficiency.
Herbs that may be helpful
A clinical trial compared the topical use of 5% tea tree oil to 5% benzoyl peroxide for common acne. Although the tea tree oil was slower and less potent in its action, it had far fewer side effects and was thus considered more effective overall.
One controlled trial found that guggul (Commiphora mukul) compared favorably to tetracycline in the treatment of cystic acne. The amount of guggul extract taken in the trial was 500 mg twice per day.
Holistic approaches that may be helpful
Acupuncture may be helpful in the treatment of acne. Several preliminary studies have reported that a series of acupuncture treatments (8 to 15) is markedly effective or curative in 90 to 98% of patients. Besides traditional Chinese acupuncture using needles alone, a technique called “cupping” is frequently used in the treatment of acne. Cupping refers to the use of cup-shaped instruments to apply suction to the area being needled. Two preliminary trials of cupping treatment for acne reported marked improvement in 91 to 96% of the study participants. Controlled trials are necessary to determine the true efficacy of acupuncture and other traditional Chinese therapies in the treatment of acne.
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