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7 Ways to Get Rid of Acne

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Whether your acne is mild or severe, here are the 7 most effective ways to get rid of it.

Acne sufferers are eager to try anything to get rid of the skin disease. Acne is common especially among adolescents and it can be psychologically distressing because it leaves blemishes on the visible areas of the skin.

Acne does not clear off overnight. It requires constant treatment to prevent new breakouts and it can be effectively treated when its triggers are identified.

The individual causes of acne may differ from one person to another but the root causes are the same. Some people react quickly to changes in the environment; some develop acne with certain types of foods; and some get acne only at certain times of the month or year.

Before going for harsh and expensive treatment options, there are simple and easy ways to get rid of acne naturally. In most cases, mild to moderate acne can be successfully treated at home. It is only when the acne is severe, persistent and/or recurrent that specialized treatments are required.

For most people, getting rid of acne can be achieved with a few changes and a dedication to follow those changes through.

Most people only experience acne during their teenage years, and most of the signs of acne clear off in their mid-20s. However, some people develop adult acne which may stay for years.

Ideally, acne should clear off when the skin changes from its oily nature during adolescence to the stable, drier nature later in life. This means that most acne breakouts are caused by the production of excess sebum.

Excess sebum fills the pores where it hardens to form acne comedones such as whiteheads and blackheads.

Furthermore, when sebum fills the skin, the skin becomes an ideal breeding ground for acne-causing bacteria. These bacteria damage the skin and trigger inflammatory responses from the immune system. They also increase the breakdown of keratin which leads to increased shedding of dead skin cells.

Anything that increases the production of sebum eventually causes acne. Therefore, the main targets of acne remedies are to reduce sebum production, to stop the bacterial colonization of the skin and to prevent and heal the damage done to the skin.

Discussed below are 7 ways to achieve these goals.

Go Dairy-Free

Milk and milk products are now conclusively implicated in the formation of acne. While these foods do not affect everyone, some people have their acne breakouts after consuming milk and dairy products for a while.

Why does milk cause acne? Milk is essentially food for growth. It is secreted by animals for the sole purpose of fueling the growth of the young ones. Therefore, milk is fortified with growth hormones.

These growth hormones are insulin-like growth factors or IGFs and androgens such as testosterone and its derivatives.

To worsen the hormonal cause of acne from milk sources, cows and other animals raised to supply milk are routinely fed on growth hormones to speed their development. These hormones can also be found in milk.

The processes involved in pasteurization of milk and production of dairy products do not remove these hormones. Therefore, they survive into the final products.

When we consume these hormones, they cause hormonal imbalance and the enlargement of the sebaceous glands. These effects lead to increased production of sebum and the breakout of acne.

Therefore, abstaining from milk and dairy products may help you get rid of acne. Totally, abstaining from milk products is usually difficult to achieve especially as milk is used in a wide variety of the foods we consume.

However, you should first try totally avoiding milk and milk products. If your acne improves after a few months, then you should regard dairy products as triggers and avoid them.

Still, not all milk products trigger acne but it is not easy to determine which of them is tolerable and in what amount without triggering acne. If you wish to know if your favorite dairy product is an acne-trigger, you will have to introduce it in small amounts after going dairy-free for a while and then note when or if acne results.

A word of caution if you do decide to go dairy-free: get your daily calcium requirement from some other dietary sources or from supplements.

Cut Back on Carbs

High carb foods are also known to cause or worsen acne. Therefore, if you want to get rid of your acne, you need to cut back on your carbs.

High carb, high caloric diets supply high glycemic loads to the body. These diets constantly place a strain on the body and ensure that the insulin levels are constantly high.

High levels of insulin produce an effect similar to the way insulin-like growth factors in milk products cause acne. The insulin produced to reduce the glycemic loads of high carb foods can also trigger the production of excess sebum in the skin. This quickly leads to acne.

To cut back on carbs and get rid of acne, you should especially avoid processed foods and refined sugars in all forms.

Sometimes the inclusion of simple sugars, such as corn syrup and fructose, in some foods is the reason the consumption of such foods trigger acne.

Chocolate is a prime example of this false link. Pure chocolate does not worsen or trigger acne but the finished chocolate products sold in stores are fortified with sugars and other high carb food additives which may cause acne.

To get rid of acne by avoiding high carb foods, some experts advice adopting special diets or detox diets. These restricted diets may work to get rid of acne as long as they are strictly followed but they are usually unsustainable in the long run and do not represent the acne cure they are promised to be.

The best way to cut back on high carb is to cut off sugary drinks as well as processed and fatty foods from your diet. Replace these with low carb foods, foods with complex sugars, and more proteins.

Drink Teas

Medicinal teas can do more than improve your health; they can actually help you get rid of acne.

These teas are not just powdered herbal extracts but herbal tea leaves meant for infusion and drunk all over the world.

The most important teas in acne treatment are rooibos tea, green tea, chamomile tea and spearmint tea. Even though they are primarily prepared for drinking, these teas can also be applied on the skin as toners and exfoliants.

All of these teas possess antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help prevent the kind of damage bacteria and their toxic byproducts cause to the skin. By mopping up free radicals before they can cause any harm, these antioxidants can help get rid of acne.

The most important antioxidants found in these teas are epigallocatechin gallate of EGCG, aspalathin, nothofagin, superoxide dismutase, vitamins A, C, E and selenium.

Beyond the antioxidant benefits, these teas also help get rid of acne by other means.  

Rooibos contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce inflammatory acne lesions such as pimples and cysts. It also contains zinc which has antimicrobial properties. Zinc can also reduce the production of the male sex hormones that trigger acne.

The alpha hydroxyl acid content of rooibos tea is likewise useful for rejuvenating the skin and getting rid of acne by exfoliation.

Chamomile tea has strong anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Its effectiveness for reducing the swelling of inflammatory acne lesions is comparable to that of hydrocortisone.

Chamomile tea is also an anxiolytic which can be used to combat stress-induced acne. When applied directly on the skin, it provides a deep cleansing action and can help fade away acne scars.

Besides its antioxidant properties, spearmint tea regulates the endocrine system. It reduces the level of free testosterone while keeping the level of total testosterone in the body. By these means, it reduces the production of sebum and can help get rid of acne lesions.

In addition, spearmint tea increases the production of female sex hormones which can counteract testosterone and are known for their anti-acne properties.

Take Herbal Supplements

Herbal supplements are useful in acne treatment.

Important Herbs Used To Treat Acne
  • Gum guggul
  • Aloe vera
  • Vitex
  • Dong quai
  • Burdock root
  • Licorice root
  • Dandelion root
  • Tea tree oil

Herbs are generally safe to use and they are often just as effective as regular acne medications. These herbs are usually sold as supplements in health stores either as combination or single supplements.

By combining different herbs, it is possible to create a very effective combination herbal supplement with each herbal extract working to get rid of acne by a different mechanism.

Gum guggul, for example, has an anti-inflammatory property that can reduce inflammatory acne lesions while aloe vera is needed for its ability to speed wound healing as well as its soothing effect on the skin.

Both donq quai and vitex work by correcting the hormonal imbalance that triggers acne. They both increase the release of certain female sex hormones which are known to have anti-acne effects. The increased production of female sex hormones helps to counteract the effects of the male sex hormones.

Acne herbs do sometimes possess antimicrobial properties too. Tea tree oil, for example, has been found comparable to benzoyl peroxide in its ability to kill off acne-causing bacteria.

Take Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional supplements refer to vitamins and minerals which are essential to the normal functioning of the body. 

Some of these vitamins and minerals can help get rid of acne because they are involved in important biochemical reactions. In fact, acne or acneiform dermatitis is a common symptom of deficiencies in some of the vitamins used in acne treatment.

The nutritional supplements to take for acne are vitamins A, B5, B6, C, D and E as well as zinc and selenium.

All the vitamins listed above except for the B vitamins have antioxidant properties. Selenium is a potent antioxidant too.

Besides their antioxidant properties, these vitamins also provide other benefits in acne treatment. Vitamin A can improve inflammatory acne lesions and also help rejuvenate the skin. The whole family of acne medications called retinoids is based on vitamin A.

While vitamin A rejuvenates the skin by increasing its turnover, vitamin E does the same by promoting tissue repair and wound healing. Vitamin D has a unique antibacterial activity that is localized to the skin and that can help get rid of acne-causing bacteria.

Vitamin B5 prevents the deposition of fat in skin pores by speeding up fat metabolism and by reducing the sizes of those pores so that they cannot be clogged.

Vitamin B6 reduces the production of prostaglandins and androgens. Therefore, it can prevent skin inflammation as well as the excessive production of sebum.

The antioxidant property of selenium is also unique. It stimulates the production of a peroxidase enzyme in the epithelial cells. This enzyme specifically deactivates peroxides before they harm the skin. In addition, selenium improves the antioxidant effects of vitamins A and E. Therefore, the recommendation is to combine the three antioxidants for a synergistic effect.

Zinc possesses an antimicrobial property that is useful for wiping out acne-causing bacteria. It also inhibits the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. In this way, it reduces the effect of the androgens on the sebaceous glands.

Make an Acne Mask

Acne masks are facial masks used for getting rid of acne. You can buy a pre-formulated mask or make one at home yourself.

Acne masks are usually prepared with natural food ingredients and herbal extracts such as honey, lemon juice, cinnamon, eggs and even yogurt. There are different recipes/formulas for mixing these ingredients together. The final acne mask is usually a paste-like mixture which is then applied to the face or the area of the skin affected by acne.

Acne masks are left on the skin for a while so that the active ingredients can open up the pores and then go deep to thoroughly clean out the dirt clogging them.

In addition, acne masks will absorb the excess sebum on the skin, and even kill off acne-causing bacteria. Some of the ingredients used in making these masks are natural anti-acne remedies. Honey, for example, is a very effective antibacterial agent.

Other benefits of acne masks include exfoliation by removing dead skin cells from the skin; healing of acne wounds; fading away acne scars and skin pigmentations; and soothing sensitive skins by removing irritants from the skin.

You should include acne masks in your skincare regimen for the best results because it is only by frequently applying these masks that you can promote the rejuvenation of your skin.

Acne masks should be carefully applied so as not to re-introduce bacteria to the skin. They should be applied with a make-up brush and removed by washing off with water or a moist cloth.

The duration of wearing an acne mask will be determined by the skin type and the type of ingredients used in making it. Since most acne masks remove sebum from the skin by absorbing it, they can dry out the skin. Therefore, an oil-free moisturizer and even a sunscreen should be applied after removing the acne mask.

See A Dermatologist

When the home treatments discussed above fail to control and reduce your acne, then you need to consult your dermatologist about stronger medications.

A dermatologist may recommend over-the-counter acne medications at first. These are usually topical products for treating mild to moderate acne.

The most important ingredients in these products are benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, alpha hydroxyl acids, resorcinol and sulfur. They may also include herbal extracts and are usually formulated to look exactly like skincare products.

In some cases, a topical antibiotic such as clindamycin or a topical retinoid such as adapalene may be recommended too.

However, in cases of severe acne, your dermatologist may recommend oral antibiotics such as the tetracycline antibiotics.

As a last resort, isotretinoin, a retinoid or vitamin A analog, may be recommended.  Since it produces very serious side effects, this drug must not be taken outside the recommendation and supervision of a dermatologist.

Next Article: Aloe for Acne Treatment