Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Acne Tips

Acne (a.k.a. zits or pimples), affects over 85% of teenagers. They occur when pores, which drain the oil producing glands in the skin, get blocked. This plug forms whiteheads (if under the skin) or blackheads (if the plug is visible). When the pore gets blocked, it may get infected by skin bacteria, causing the red, inflamed pustular acne.

Acne usually begins along with the increased sex hormone production that accompanies puberty (e.g., DHEA, estrogen and testosterone). These hormones increase the production of skin oils (sebum) and the glands that make them, causing the acne to flare.

High sugar and carbs in the diet can stimulate increased levels of these hormones and increase acne formation. In addition, scratching or irritating a pimple causes it to get inflamed.

It can take 6 weeks to see the benefits of acne treatments.

Recommend supplements:

Vitamin A

Vitamin A 2,000-4,000 units/day helps dry the skin. Caution: Over 4,000 units a day is bad for bone development (if used long term); over 8,000 units a day can cause birth defects; and over 25,000 units a day can cause liver problems—so higher doses should only be used with the guidance of a health practitioner (beta carotene is OK but does not help the acne). The medication Acutane acts like high dose vitamin A. Vitamin A skin creams are safe (e.g., Retin A).


Zinc 15-30 mg/day increases the effectiveness of the vitamin A and speeds skin healing.


If constipated (less than a daily bowel movement) add fiber to your diet (e.g., vegetables, whole grain cereal low in sugar for breakfast such as "Quaker Oats Squares" or "Cheerios").


200-400 mcg/day (optional).

Vitamin B6

50-200 mg/day (optional).

Note — Vitamins A and B6, zinc, and chromium can be found combined in a good multivitamin (see Multi-Nutrient Powders).

Treatment is Aimed at:

Drying skin

Topical vitamin A creams (such as Retin A by prescription) or Benzoyl peroxide (over the counter). Both are OK.

Killing skin bacteria

Topical antibiotics are very reasonable. Antibiotics by mouth, though sometimes needed, are a bad idea for long term use. A natural alternative to topical antibiotics (or used along with them) would be "Tea Tree" oil 5%.

Note — Seeing a dermatologist during flares to lance and drain the pimples is also reasonable.

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