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Treating Acne 101

Would you love to look into a mirror and smile at the face staring back??

Often those with skin issues refuse to look into a mirror, or hide their skin under makeup. This may make acne appear less obvious....or so we hope!

Often, it will actually exacerbates the condition, and prevent us ever wanting to look into a mirror again!

Yes, acne, both teenage and adult acne, has partly to do with what you put on your skin, and how much sebum (or oil) your skin produces. But do you know why the skin produces sebum, and why it can become out of control?

Sebum is an oil that lubricates our skin, so it feels soft and supple, not dry and wrinkly. A reduction in oil occurs as we age, and this is one of the reasons why, together with the sun damaging our collagen and elastin fibres, wrinkles occur.

Besides helping us look good younger (ever noticed that oilier skin people look better in their older years, than those that didn’t have acne when young!), sebum has a very important health function.

Sebum provides a protective, waterproofing barrier over the skin. It contributes to the pH of our skin, protecting us from the environment, including against fungal and bacterial infections. This barrier prevents much needed moisture from leaving your skin, and prevents too much water entering your body. It provides protection for underlying cells, acting as an antioxidant of sorts, preventing free radical damage from the sun.

In a love/hate relationship, sebum just needs to be under control and in balance. Topically, here are a few hints on preventing sebum control your life......but read on, as acne IS more than skin deep!

1. Use a cleanser appropriate for your skin type.

An oilier skin requires a foaming or lactic/salicylic acid type cleanser, to reduce excess or sluggish sebum production, that can clog the skin. Drier skins need a creamier type cleanser to avoid removing too much oil. Using the wrong cleanser can actually produce more sebum, not remove it!

2. Be gentle!

Harsh scrubbing on the skin is not only painful but disrupts our protection barrier (also called Acid Mantle). This, yet again, entices the skin to produce more oil, to reinstate this protective layer. Scrubs and harsh brushes can also open pimples, causing bacteria to spread, creating further acne.

Did you know sebum production is controlled by your hormones, not just by how you treat your skin?

This is why teenagers, as they go through an awakening of hormone production, may experience acne.

Why some people experience ‘period acne’ just prior to, or during menstruation, and why adult acne can occur during the peri-menopausal years.

Other causes of acne include stress, food sensitivities/gut imbalances, poor nutrition (especially in skin nutrients such as Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin A and C), lowered immune health, medication side effects and environmental toxins.

By rebalancing our hormones, we can start to control sebum production.

Doctors will often prescribe the contraceptive pill. Unfortunately, synthesised hormones can never replace our natural ones, and good results are not always experienced, but often, side effects are.

The contraception pill disrupts our hormonal balance, swinging it to one side only. It is a known component of cardiovascular diseases and breast cancers. Studies have shown those with a family history of Crohn’s Disease, triple their chances of its development, when taking the pill.

Synthesised hormones in the pill have been noted to affect our brains, cause headaches, depression and PMS.

Herbal medicine has been utilised for centuries to rebalance hormonal disruptions, creating homeostasis to the underlying triggers of acne. Together with good nutrition, that which feeds the skin, we can restore good health back to the skin.

Acne is more than a topical treatment condition.

Underlying health and nutrition can play an important part in controlling and improving acne, no matter what age you are!

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