Acne And Herbal Remedies

OVERVIEW

Acne is a common skin condition characterized by plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), inflamed pimples, and deeper lumps. It is an inflammatory condition of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles of the skin that is marked by the eruption of pimples or pustules. It affects mostly on the face but neck, back, chest, shoulders and upper arms are also affected.

Hormones play a major role in acne. Normally body produces an oily lubricant and secretes through sebaceous glands to the skin. The lubricant is necessary to protect the skin from the elements and to keep it moist. When the pores in the skin become clogged due to some causative factors, acne may develop. Untreated acne can leave permanent scars. It is rarely a serious medical condition, but often causes emotional distress. The condition is most common in puberty and likely to occur in adults. Normally sebaceous gland produce the right amount of sebum and the pores in the skin are clear. But sometimes, when a pore gets clogged up with too much sebum it tends to cause acne. Acne is not contagious.

TYPES OF ACNE

Closed Comedo (White head): If the plugged follicle stays below the surface of the skin, the lesion is called closed comedo or white head.
Open Comedo (Black head): If the plug enlarges and pushes through the surface of the skin, it is called an open comedo.
Papule: The mildest form of inflammatory acne is called papule, which appears on the skin as small, firm pink bump.
Pustule: Pustules are small round lesions, unlike papules; they are clearly inflamed and contain visible pus.
Nodule or Cyst: They are large, usually painful, inflamed, pus filled lesions within the skin. Both nodules and cysts often leave deep scars in the skin.
Acne conglobata: It is rare but serious form of inflammatory acne which develops on the back, buttocks and chest.

CAUSES

The increased production of sebum by the oil gland in the skin causes blockage of hair follicles. It leads to the formation of small bacteria-filled cysts called comedones. If these comedones remain intact and not ruptured, they can progress into open comedones (whiteheads) or closed comedones (blackheads). When comedones rupture, an inflammatory reaction occurs and can spread into the surrounding tissue. Papules, pustules, cysts, and nodules are all forms of inflammatory lesions. There are several factors contribute to the development of acne. However the most common causes and risk factors that contribute to the formation of acne are as follows:

  • Overproduction of sebum (from sebaceous gland)
  • Buildup of bacteria
  • Irregular shedding of dead skin cells resulting in irritation of the hair follicles of the skin
  • Changes in levels of male sex hormones (androgen)
  • Hormonal changes associated with adolescence, pregnancy, or menstruation

TREATMENT

There are numerous ways to treat acne. Some treatment steps may help to lessen the severity as well as to avoid scars and infection. The main goal of the treatment of acne involves preventing scaring, reducing the number of painful lesions, minimizing stress, reducing pain and inflammation associated with the condition.

Drug therapy can be in the form of oral medication or cream/ointment or sometimes together. Medications commonly used for acne treatment are Benzoyl Peroxide, Azelaic Acid, Sulfur, Sodium Sulfacetamide and salicylic acid. Topical and oral antibiotics are also used.

There are various alternative ways to treat acne besides using allopathic medications. Modifying diet, cleansing internal organs, herbal supplements, nutritional & dietary supplements are some examples of alternative therapies available for the treatment of acne. These treatments focus on proper cleansing to keep the skin oil-free and eating a well balanced diet.

Herbal Supplements


Seabuckthorn Oil
Seabuckhorn oil has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties. It is exceptionally rich in essential fatty acids and Vitamin E with vitamins A, D, C, D and K, etc. It has the miracle properties of stimulation to tissue regeneration and epithelial healing with analgesic and anti-inflammation effects.

Try the famous Face Doctor Soap and Seabuckthorn oil products

Black currant seed oil and Evening primrose oil
Black currant seed oil and Evening primose oil contains essential fatty acids such as Linolenic acid which is often deficient in acne.

Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternafolia)
Tea tree oil has antimicrobial effect. Several laboratory studies have shown that tea tree oil effectively slows down the growth of Propionibacterium acnes (the bacterial strain associated with acne) thereby potentially reducing inflammation associated with the skin condition.

Neem (Azadiraachta indica):
Neem is one of the most effective blood purifier and detoxifier. Neem is used for external application in skin. Neem boosts the immune system by energizing lymphocytes cells to respond to infection and other challenges to the body immunity.
Aloe Vera
Aloe vera can aid in keeping the skin supple, and has been used in the control of acne. It can also prevent scaring, fade marks and help heal acne spots. The pulp of the Aloe vera is an excellent skin cleanser.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis)
The flavonoids found in calendula have anti-inflammatory activity and hence used in acne. It is best for the skin conditions involving pustules or blisters.

Belladonna
It is best for people who experience flushes of heat to the face or who have inflamed pustular acne that improves with cold applications.

Detoxification with Herbs
Detoxification, or cleansing of body of accumulated toxins, is a treatment mostly used in alternative medicine. The principle behind detoxification therapy is that the accumulated toxins in body give rise to various diseases and eliminating these toxins and avoiding further toxicity is essential for healing the body. Detoxification helps cleanse the body of acne-causing poisons. The common herbal supplements used as detoxifier and blood purifier include Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale), Burdock root (Arcticum lappa), Goldenseal etc.
Try the Traditional Chinese Medicine AcNoMore. It contains blend of herbs to remove internal toxins, and to maintain a healthy and clear complexion.

Vitamin and Nutritional Supplements


Zinc Supplement
Zinc is one of the best minerals to use for the treatment of acne. Several Studies have shown that the mineral zinc may be an effective treatment for inflammatory acne. It reduces the build-up of DHT and promotes skin healing. Zinc in the form of Zinc gluconate or zinc sulfate can help prevent acne. Zinc helps heal blemishes, reduces inflammation, and reduces androgenic hormonal effects on the skin. It is usually regarded as more effective element than antibiotics for skin health.
Vitamin A
Vitamin A reduces sebum and keratin production and thus it is effective in maintaining healthy skin. Normally a higher dose of vitamin A is required for the treatment of acne.
Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is essential for the proper metabolism of steroid hormones and can reduce the sensitivity of skin to the effects of testosterone. It may help premenstrual or mid-cycle acne.
Vitamin E
It is an antioxidant. It enhances the effectiveness of certain enzymes needed for good skin health and improves the absorption of vitamin A.
Selenium
Selenium helps in reducing the inflammation of acne.
Chromium Supplements
Chromium helps with blood sugar regulation, which can be an important factor with acne.
Acidophilus
Bowel toxicity may contribute to acne flare-ups. Acidophilus supplements like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are beneficial to maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora. They also produce small amount of hydrogen peroxide that compel bad germs to leave the body. It is beneficial to take acidophilus in the treatment of acne.

References:

  1. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/healthscience/ healthtopics/colds/overview.htm
    Accessed November 2005
  2. James F.Balch, Mark Stengler. Prescription for Natural Cures. Johnson Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey.pp11-16. 2004
  3. Acne Net
    http://www.skincarephysicians.com/ acnenet/acne.html
    Accessed November 2005
  4. http://www.acne.org/
    Accessed November 2005
  5. The Acne Resource Center Online
    http://www.acne-resource.org/
    Accessed November 2005
  6. University of Maryland Medical Center
    http://www.umm.edu/altmed/ ConsConditions/Acnecc.html
    Accessed November 2005
  7. American Academy of dermatology
    http://www.aad.org/public/
    Accessed November 2005
  8. MayoClinic
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ acne/DS00169/DSECTION=1
    Accessed November 2005
  9. Wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acne_vulgaris
    Accessed November 2005
  10. Alternative Medicine
    http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/ conditionsatod/a/acne.htm
    Accessed November 2005
  11. Holistic Online
    http://www.holistic-online.com
    Accessed November 2005


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