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Natural Treatments for Acne

Acne is an inflammation of the sebaceous glands in the skin, and mostly occurs on the face, neck, upper chest and back. It can leave permanently open pores and scars on the skin. The exact reason why acne affects some people worse than others is not entirely known, although heredity seems to play a part. Other contributing factors may include:

  • changing hormone levels during puberty or throughout the menstrual cycle
  • an inadequate diet (high in fat, sugar or iodine, or low in nutrients)
  • lack of exercise and thus poor circulation and oxygenation
  • poor immune function due to other lifestyle or health conditions
  • sluggish lymphatic system resulting in poor elimination of toxins from your body
  • certain drugs such as iodides and bromides, steroids or some contraceptive pills
  • dirt, oil or cosmetics blocking the pores
  • stress
  • physiological deficiencies such as lack of some enzymes involved in metabolic processes, usually hereditary

All these factors may cause sebum (an oily substance produced by glands in the skin) to build up, especially in the oily areas. Excess sebum can block pores, resulting in whiteheads and blackheads. These may in turn become infected when bacteria get in and enjoy the environment. The pore becomes inflamed and pus-filled, resulting in pimples. When this inflammation is severe, large painful cysts may form.

Most natural therapists believe that particular skin conditions, like acne, are the body's reaction to "poisons" in the system. The skin is an elimination organ so it is trying to rid the body of an excess of something that will harm it. Therefore natural remedies are aimed more at the cause of this imbalance rather than the symptom of acne. However, there are also natural topical applications that can assist the skin to deter infection, reduce inflammation and prevent or treat scarring. Treatment will probably take about six weeks before improvement is noticed.

Some of the natural therapies / therapists that can be helpful are -

  • Naturopathy – assist with diet, nutrition and supplementation for detoxification, immune system, building up any nutrient deficiencies and balancing hormones
  • Herbalism – Chinese, Ayurvedic and Western herbalists can assist with hormone regulation
  • Aromatherapy – essential oils are useful for the skin, detoxification and emotions
  • Bach and Bush flower remedies – useful for cleansing the skin and emotional support
  • Homeopathy – individually tailored for your constitution assists on all levels
  • Acupuncture – can work locally to clear pimples and systemically to promote immune system, digestion, elimination, hormonal balancing and stress reduction
  • Chiropractic and Osteopathy – may assist by optimising organ functions and immune system
  • Massage – lymphatic drainiage may assist in eliminating toxins, especially combined with aromatherapy
  • Shiatsu – can work all the organ systems to promote proper functioning
  • Reflexology – works the system points to balance hormones and improve elimination
  • Yoga – promotes well-being on all levels, particularly good for lymphatic system
  • Meditation – assists with reducing stress and can balance emotions
  • Counselling – may assist with dealing with distress about appearance and self-confidence, as well as addressing any underlying causes that may contribute to the acne itself

What you can do:

  • Always discuss treatments you are using with your health professionals as some treatments used together may reduce each one's benefits
  • Ensure your diet is low in fat, high in fibre to help eliminate toxins and high in vitamins and minerals to help your body rebuild cells, enabling your skin to repair itself
  • Avoid picking or squeezing as this may increase inflammation and spread infection
  • Avoid touching your affected skin with your fingers or anything that may transmit grime or bacteria causing reinfection in the pores. Make sure your phone is regularly wiped clean as this often touches parts of your face
  • Drink plenty of water – at least eight glasses per day to flush out your system
  • Learn what stresses you and how best you can cope
  • Keep your affected skin clean and gently exfoliate regularly to clear away dead skin cells, although excessive washing and harsh soaps may aggravate your condition
  • Avoid washing with water that is too hot
  • Rubbing the rest of the skin of your body with a loofah in the shower may improve your lymphatic system functioning and circulation
  • Facial massage daily at home with essential oils assists with local symptoms
  • Shaving can irritate your skin. Keep shaving to a minumum, shave in the direction of the hair growth and consider using an electric razor
  • Try a facial steam bath to open pores and allow better cleansing
  • Facial masks, particularly clay can draw many toxins out of your skin.
  • Always make sure your skin is clean before applying any cover-ups or make-up.

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