Acne affects about 85% of all Americans at some time in their lives and is the most common skin condition in the USA.
Added to the condition itself is the self-consciousness and social stigma that come with having acne, as adults and teens alike often feel embarrassed and helpless when trying to combat and treat this disorder.
Acne vulgaris is the name given to common acne and is a disorder of the sebaceous glands so that when these glands lubricate the skin and become blocked, bacteria overgrows and causes skin blemishes. Acne is characterized by pimples, scaly red skin, blackheads and whiteheads, pinheads and large papules, and possible scarring in extreme cases.
Do pharmaceutical medications help acne?
With such high numbers, needless to say this skin condition has become yet another cash cow for the pharmaceutical industry with medications ranging from being mildly effective to downright dangerous. Keep the acne condition ticking over for as long as possible and you have a steady income from those desperate enough to keep paying for a possible solution.
Why is acne mainly a disease of the Western world?
Could it be linked to those other chronic diseases of the West such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity?
Of course it is.
The popular myths about what causes acne
There are a number of myths and these can safely be discounted. We will come to what really causes acne later on in this article.
So called “helpful articles especially for teens” will list the following as causes for acne:
Myth #1 - Eating chocolate, pizza and French fries
While these 3 items are not specific causes for acne, sufferers need to look at their diet as a whole as the phrase "you are what you eat" applies to just about every facet of your life. The food you put in your mouth has a direct impact on the appearance of your skin. The single most important step to take to improve skin health and prevent acne is to eliminate sugars and grains from your diet. Try it for a few weeks and you should notice a major improvement in your complexion.
Myth #2 - Spending time in the sun
Far from being harmful to the skin and causing acne, solar UVB light may even reduce the risk of acne as it can kill the bacteria and of course is well known for stimulating the production for vitamin D which in turn can reduce the risk and symptoms of acne by strengthening the immune system. This important nutrient is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune response, and most people are deficient in it. Without adequate vitamin D, your body cannot control infection, in your skin or elsewhere. The best way to optimize your vitamin D levels is to expose as much skin as possible to sunshine between the hours of 10 am and 2 pm for as long as it takes for your skin to turn slightly pink. The darker your skin, the longer exposure you need. If you don't have access to regular UV exposure, the next best thing is an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Testing is the only way to be sure of your levels.
Myth #3 - Lack of hygiene such as blackheads being caused by dirt trapped in the skin's pores
A blackhead is an accumulation of dead skin cells and sebum that forms a plug within the pore and not dirt. The oil impaction changes to a dark brown or black color when exposed to air, much like a apple turns brown when it has been cut or peeled and left.
Myth #4 - Too much cleansing of the skin
It is not the cleansing of the skin that is the problem but what you put on it as everything applied to the skin is absorbed. Unfortunately, many skin care products and cosmetics are full of toxins that can cause more skin problems than they solve, inflaming an acne outbreak or preventing one from healing. Some 99% of personal care products contain at least one unsafe ingredient. You should use pure, safe, natural skin care products such as H-Acne from Healing Natural Oils.
Naturally derived topical acne care products are preferable to chemical products since they do not irritate and dry the skin. Essential oils are one of the most effective natural weapons against acne. Spend 5 minutes at least twice a day carefully and gently cleaning your face and always remove all makeup. Exfoliate occasionally. Apply your natural skin care products including moisturizer to a warm skin – this increases absorption.
Myth #5 - Masturbation or having sex
Yet another myth that is devoid of all truth and that probably arose because acne and sexual feelings both arrive at roughly the same time – puberty – and it is likely that many parents have perpetuated the myth to dissuade their teenage children from having sexual relations.
Myth #5 - Being contagious
Acne is not contagious but it could sometimes appear so because acne is so common with 85% of all teens having outbreaks to a greater or lesser degree. You can hug, kiss and touch a person with acne but you won't develop acne as a result of that closeness or intimacy.
None of the above are causes of acne
The number 1 cause of acne is environmental factors – especially diet. The spread of bacteria and the growth of inflammation lead to acne but diets high in sugar and refined carbohydrates are the main reason for acne. Simply changing to a low-grain or no-grain diet is almost certain to clear up your skin. The worst thing to be prescribed for acne is antibiotics because they will exacerbate any bacterial growth. Propionibacterium acnes is the name of the bacteria that lives in the skin and is a major cause of acne. Grains and sugars are the primary reason why most suffer with acne. Eliminating grains, sugars, sweets, potatoes and corn help radically improve acne, creating an environment that does not allow bacteria and inflammation to flourish.
Some of the best foods to eat for acne-free skin are richly colored fruits such as berries, citrus fruits (lemons and oranges), fish, almonds, walnuts and leafy green vegetables.
The 2nd cause of acne is stress. Sufferers need a plan for managing stress to prevent acne flare ups. If you find ways to eliminate daily stress in your life, you can notice an improved appearance in terms of acne. Changing to a healthier diet will lower your stress levels too, along with plenty of sleep and regular exercise.
Neither of these important causes require pharmaceutical medications.