What is acne? What causes acne?

What is acne disease?

Acne is the appearance of blackheads, spots and pustules on the face, back and chest. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just teenagers who have acne. It affects 25% of all adult men and 50% of adult women at some time. No matter how severe acne is, it affects different people in different ways and many people with acne suffer from insecurities and depression. There are support groups available for this.

What is acne What causes acne
acne image

What is Acne Vulgaris?
Acne vulgaris
  • Blackheads; are caused by partially blocked pores. The "black" appearance of them is not caused by dirt, but by the melanin pigment from the dead skin cells.
  • Whiteheads; are caused by completely blocked pores. The white appearance of them is caused by the bacteria inside the blocked pore turning the sebum to "free fatty acid".
  • Papules; are small, red, tender bumps or spots.
  • Pustules; are larger, red and inflamed pus-filled spots.
  • Nodules; are large hard bumps under the skin's surface.
  • Cysts; are similar to nodules, but can be deeply inflamed and infected.
👉 Read more about acne vulgaris: Acne vulgaris definition and epidemiology

What is Acne Roseaca?
Acne roseaca
Acne roseaca is similar to acne vulgaris (oily skin, spots, pustules), but people with acne roseaca also experience skin flushing and a general redness of the area. These flushes can be set off by certain foods, such as spicy food and alcohol. People with acne roseaca rarely have blackheads (comedones).

What Really Causes Acne?

Hormones
Rebalance these by:
  • Avoiding stress; stress causes the over production of hormones
  • Use relaxation techniques, such as Yoga, T'ai Chi and deep breathing (Read more about relaxation on Relaxation therapy for acne and body)
  • Avoid caffeine; caffeine stimulates hormone production
  • Exercise; exercise rebalances hormones and reduces stress

Diet factors
- Foods to avoid include:
  • Dairy products (milk, cheese, cream, yogurt etc)
  • Refined and cooked carbohydrates (flour, bread, rice, crisps and chips, sugar etc)
  • Cooked fats (fried food, hydrogenated oils, roasted nuts)
  • Meat (beef, pork, chicken, lamb etc)


All the above foods are acid-forming in the body. If you really want to get rid of acne, you need to eat more alkaline-forming foods -- fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts (sparingly) and seeds. The foods to avoid listed above also cause a sluggish digestive system. If food travels too slowly through the body, toxins build up and aren't carried away by the usual processes and are expelled via the skin, causing acne.

Harsh skin care products
People with acne are often advised to use harsh, drying products on the skin. These dry the skin out too much, causing the sebaceous glands to excrete more oil to compensate. Dry skin also leads to excess dead skin cells. More oil + excess dead skin cells = blocked pores and more acne!

- Ingredients to avoid:
  • Alcohol, isopropyl myristate, lanolin, sodium lauryl sulphate, sodium laureth sulphate, propylene glycol, mineral oil and parabens
  • Benzoyl peroxide

- Don't be afraid of using oil in products. This can be the best thing for those wanting to get rid of acne -- using oils that mimic the skin's natural oils (coconut and jojoba) will rebalance the oil production of your skin. These oils won't block your pores. Use more of the following (these can be found in natural products in health food stores):
  • Tea tree oil -- antiseptic and antibacterial, great for existing infections
  • Lavender oil -- soothing and healing, great for accelerating healing of scars
  • Coconut oil -- look out for products that use this as a base. Can also be used on its own.
  • Jojoba oil -- look out for products that use this as a base

- Exfoliate twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells; Use natural products,

Dehydration
To get rid of acne, the skin needs to be hydrated from the inside to prevent blocked pores -- drink plenty of water and eat plenty of water-rich foods, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. This will also help speed up a sluggish digestive system.

The yeast link
People with acne often have a build-up of yeast in the body and are susceptible to yeast infections, such as thrush (Candida Albicans). This can also impact the digestive system bringing on problems such as constipation. Antibiotics and a diet high in yeast and sugar will aggravate this further.

Avoid the following:
  • Sugary foods
  • Yeast products (bread, beer, yeast extract, soya sauce and mushrooms)

If you are taking antibiotics, or have taken them in the past, supplement with a good quality probiotic.

Bacterial Infection
Bacterial infections can cause acne. Sebum piles that are tightly closed and not reachable by oxygen will be the right place for bacterial growth.

See the full description at
👉 How Bacteria Causes Acne and Pimples

Antibiotics/ probiotics
Many people with acne are prescribed antibiotics, which may help destroy the bacteria that breed inside the blocked pores, but they also destroy the healthy bacteria that help support the activity of your intestines. If your intestines are not working efficiently, there will be a buildup of toxins in the digestive system which can aggravate acne. The body also builds up a tolerance to antibiotics, meaning you need larger and larger doses to get the same effect. If you have been taking antibiotics for your acne, take a probiotic supplement and drink aloe vera juice every day to heal your intestines.

A high quality probiotic will restore the good bacteria in the gut. This will improve the health of your digestive system, enabling it to better absorb the vitamins and minerals from your food. Food will also pass through at the right speed, preventing constipation and/or diahorrea. A sluggish digestive system is often linked to acne because the toxins aren’t being eliminated correctly by the digestive system and so are eliminated via the skin.

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