If you have acne, you know how difficult it can make your life. It is not contagious or life-threatening, yet the pimples and blemishes it causes are unsightly, and can have a real impact on your self-esteem and confidence. It’s easy to feel helpless – prescription medications and over-the-counter remedies can help, but in most cases they only lessen the severity of outbreaks, they don’t actually stop them from happening. Not only that, but all of these medications contain chemicals that can be harmful to your skin, and the rest of your body.
The good news is that there are some very easy ways to treat acne without relying on antibiotics or other chemicals. But before we talk about those, let’s talk about acne in general: what is it, and what causes it?
The Causes of Acne
Acne is a common skin disease, affecting as many as 70% of all people between the ages of 11 and 30. It is most common during puberty, but people of any age can and do get acne. Put simply, acne is caused by the accumulation of hair, sebum (a natural oil in skin produced by the sebaceous glands,) and skin cells. These three substances combine to block your pores – small openings in the skin. When a plug forms and then begins to break down, bacteria thrive, and their presence causes an inflammation that turns into a blemish, or pimple.
Acne can take different forms. Pimples are raised and red, while whiteheads contain a pustule containing white or greenish fluid. Blackheads occur when skin and dirt build up beneath a pore – they are called blackheads because the center of the inflammation often looks like a black speck. More serious forms of acne may cause the formation of cysts.
While there is no one cause of acne, some common factors include:
- Hormonal changes. Some experts believe that acne is caused by the body’s production of androgen, a hormone.
- Menstrual cycles. Many girls and even adult women experience breakouts during their periods.
- General inflammation. Because acne is an inflammatory response, other sources of inflammation may cause it to flare up.
- Oily hair. If your hair is oily, the oil from your hair can get onto your skin, causing it to break out.
- There is some evidence that there is a hereditary component to acne, so if your parents have it, you are more likely to have it as well.
Common treatments for acne include topical applications of a chemical called benzoyl peroxide. Severe cases are sometimes treated with topical or oral antibiotics. The downside of treating acne with antibiotics is that prolonged exposure to these drugs can cause bacteria to become more resistant to them. That means that when you have another condition that requires antibiotic treatment, you may need to use higher doses or different drugs to treat them. Not only that, but using antibiotics can cause other problems in the body, including nausea and digestive problems.
Easy Remedies for Acne
If you are feeling discouraged, don’t be. There are some very easy – and all-natural – ways to treat acne. You do not need to resort to prescription medications or harsh chemicals. Let’s take a look at 3 very easy remedies to help cure acne.
It is important to note that, in addition to the above remedies, there are other ways you can use food to help treat acne. Acne is an inflammatory disease, so anything you can do to reduce inflammation can be helpful. For example, many processed foods contain ingredients that can be inflammatory. Some examples included monosodium glutamate (MSG,) a chemical which is frequently used as a flavor-enhancer, and trans fats such as margarine, vegetable shortening, and any partially-hydrogenated oil. Check the ingredients to make sure you are not consuming these items.
You can also try adding some foods with antioxidant properties to your diet. There are many vitamins and minerals that have these properties, but let’s look at just two: Vitamin C and selenium. Foods rich in Vitamin C include citrus fruits, broccoli, and dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Vitamin C works to boost your immune system and protect your body against oxidative stress. It may also help to decrease your healing time when you have an outbreak. Selenium is another antioxidant that helps to reduce inflammation, and it also improves the elasticity of your skin. Foods that are rich in selenium include oatmeal and other whole grains, as well as garlic. Try to eat foods rich in these nutrients every day.
You do not need to rely on harsh chemicals and harmful drugs to deal with acne. Instead of going to the pharmacy, just take a walk through your pantry and use what’s there to help clear up your breakouts and prevent future ones.