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Acne's Bumpy Road

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Do you have acne? Well, you are not alone. Eighty per cent of the population, ages 12 to 24, is affected by blackheads, whiteheads and pimples. Acne occurs for two reasons. During puberty there is a change in the cells lining the pores in the skin.

Do you have acne? Well, you are not alone. Eighty percent of the population, ages 12 to 24, is affected by blackheads, whiteheads and pimples.

Acne occurs for two reasons. During puberty there is a change in the cells lining the pores in the skin. Instead of floating up to the surface of the skin and falling off when they die, the cells stick to the inside of the pore and partially block its opening. In turn, the pores enlarge creating a coarse complexion.

At the same time, a teenager’s hormones go into overdrive. Both boys and girls start producing increased amounts of male hormones. The body responds by boosting the sebaceous glands’ oil production. The oil becomes trapped in the follicles and stagnates. Our body’s normal bacteria now has a breeding ground to multiply and produce chemicals that lead to inflammation.

Luckily nutritional supplements and a healthy diet can make a big difference. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) and gama-linoleic acids (GLAs) pack a sturdy punch against acne. These oils regulate male hormone production. They lower the amount of sebum manufactured, which in turn reduces pore clogging. Supplementation of one tablespoon of unrefined, cold-pressed flax seed oil, pumpkin seed oil, walnut oil, primrose oil, black currant oil or fish oil daily are very beneficial. Also, adding lecithin (one capsule before meals) will increase EFA and GLA absorption. Taking vitamin A (10,000 IU daily), or eating dark green and yellow vegetables, cantaloupe and eggs is vital for new cell production.

The trace mineral zinc (30 to 80 mg daily) works hand-in-hand with vitamin A to aid in healing. Zinc also helps stabilize oil gland production. It can be found in nuts, beans, whole grains, peas and dairy products.

Vitamin B (50 mg daily) assists the liver in making glycogen. Glycogen cleans away dead skin cells. It can be found in legumes, yogurt, whole grains, eggs, mushrooms, brewer’s yeast and bananas. Supplementing with vitamin C (three to five grams) helps build collagen and elastin. Citrus fruits, berries, cabbage, tomatoes, cantaloupe, dark yellow and green vegetables are major sources. The strongest healer is vitamin E (400 IU daily). It stimulates the immune system to fight skin inflammation and comes from fresh vegetables, wheat germ, nuts, legumes and vegetable oils.

Cleansing also makes a big difference. Be sure you don’t wash your face more than twice a day to remove excess oil. It will only irritate your skin and cause it to become red. Using an antibacterial soap, cleansing pad, or blemish stick with tea tree oil or camomile will help to destroy the bacteria in the pores and reduce the inflammation. Salicyclic acid (two per cent) is used to dissolve the sticky cells,which clog the pores and allows the oil to flow to the surface freely. It can be found in specific oatmeal lotions and in products containing wintergreen. Be patient, it can take several months to see benefits.

Don’t Squeeze

Everyone wants to squeeze, but squeezing can push the blockage further into the skin. Instead of using your fingers, try a comedone spoon. This small, spoon-shaped tool has a hole in one end. It can be purchased at any pharmacy. Just place the hole over the black head and push down. The oil will be forced up without damaging your skin.

Another successful dermatologist approved method is to use deep pore cleansing strips. The strips have glue or resin on their surface. They are moistened and placed over the blackheads. After the strip dries, it’s peeled off, taking the blackhead and oil blockage with it. The black head will return, so use in combination with the other treatments.

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