Acne is not just for teenagers. It is estimated that between 85% and 100% of the world’s population experiences some degree of “acne vulgaris” in their lifetime. While nearly everyone experiences the odd pimple, some people are constantly afflicted with disease, so that it becomes a lifelong battle for clear skin. Acne ranges in severity, from one or two small blemishes to whole face rashes.
A lot of myths surround acne. There are three things in particular that will not cause a breakout. One is poor hygiene. Dirt or surface oils aren’t likely to cause acne, and over-washing and scrubbing can make acne worse by irritating the skin. Second are greasy foods. No medical study has ever found a link between greasy foods and the formation of pimples. The third is stress. It isn’t a factor in acne. In fact, pimples start forming weeks before you see the first signs, so in no way can getting stressed cause an outbreak.
What does cause acne? It’s complicated, but, overall, three things commonly lead to acne: a rapid increase in male hormones (androgens) that affects how much oil the glands produce; a bacterial infection of the skin; or dead skin cells (accounting for the majority of cases).
Here are some great lifestyle tips for avoiding acne:
- Diet: Some people find they get reactions from certain foods. It’s up to you to recognize which foods tend to trigger acne. On the flip side, drink plenty of water. And look toward the fish counter. Linoleic acid, an important component in omega-3 fatty acids, has been linked to maintaining the integrity of the skin and preventing loss of water in the skin.
- Wash, not scrub: Instead of scrubbing, wash your face once or twice a day to keep the pores clean. Scrubbing more than once a day is more liable to cause acne than prevent it.
- Don’t smoke: Here’s another reason to quit. Smoking can actually increase the negative effects of acne. Tobacco induces an inflammatory response in skin, aggravating acne and other dermatological conditions. Also, tobacco can suppress collagen, which is essential to wound healing, making acne stick around longer. And there is a bundle of alternative remedies you can try as well:
Mustard seed oil: It could help bad scars when applied to the skin. It’s thought to dissolve scar tissue, making it smoother to the touch. Use it within three months of acne breakouts. This one is useful for cases of bad acne where scars have appeared that are lumpy or uneven.
Guggal: This Indian herb has shown some promise when taken as a 500-mg supplement twice a day for three months.
Zinc: Taking zinc supplements could produce slight benefits in acne, but don’t take more than 40 mg a day without your doctor’s consent.
B vitamins: Niacinamide could help erase acne on your skin. Use the gel form. Also, vitamin B5 has been shown to work when ingested or used on the skin as a cream.
Tea tree oil: This essential oil is an antiseptic. It could clean up acne and, in so doing, help treat it. Apply it to your skin via a Q-tip and watch your symptoms improve.
Acupuncture: This alternative therapy could reduce symptoms of acne. There are no great studies to back this up, but many reports over the years have tied ear acupuncture and electroacupuncture to acne treatment.
Kampo: This is the name of a Japanese medicine that many doctors believe could treat acne. It is a formulation of herbs that possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Those 17 herbs include skullcap, mint, angelica root, peony root, and licorice.