Skin conditions are often very uncomfortable,
or even painful and beyond simply troublesome ... acne
is one of these conditions.
Most of us have our first experience in dealing with
acne sometime around the age of twelve or thirteen to varying
degrees and many continue to contend with it,
even if only at times, throughout life.
Acne is usually accompanied by oily skin, but
not always. It is believed that acne is caused
by hormonal changes or fluctuations, but heredity, diet,
and lifestyle can also play a role.
In any event, whether you have acne for only
a short period of time in life, either as recurring episodes,
or "major breakout" periods to simply a few random
blemishes that come to greet you now and again, it is something worth
trying to curb ... we may not get it to go away
entirely, but, learning how to get it to a
minimum, or "managing it" in a sense,
can make your skin healthier and your life
Here is a brief description of what an acne
condition is ... "Propionibacterium acnes" is a bacteria
and "acne" is what the skin condition is called.
Sebaceous glands produce skin oil called sebum and they
lie just under the surface of the skin. Oils from our
skin serves as a protectant and "waterproofing,"
flowing from the hair follicles to the skin.
When too much oil is produced, an excess can build up
within the follicle under the skin's surface layer,
sometimes breaking through the wall of the follicle.
The condition of blocked oil and dead skin cells
becomes a place for bacteria to thrive, and it
does, causing an infection ... swelling into
a blemish. Some blemishes remain below the surface of
the skin and are called "whiteheads,"
as the trapped sebum accumulates and forms
a lump which appears as a white dot. Others
may break the surface of the skin and become
"blackheads" as they appear dark
as a reaction to the air.
With proper cleansing,
blemishes can be cleared up over a few days.
In the case of an acne blemish, the acne bacteria
builds up within the follicle so much that it
bursts, spreading the bacteria. White blood cells
are attracted to the area to fight off the infection.
All of this leads to swelling within the
inflamed, infected area, which can erupt onto
the skin ...or, create a nodule or painful cyst.
Keeping bacteria and excess oil at a minimum is very important.
It is a common belief that only cleansers that contain no oils
should be used for acne. Although many people now believe that
the only way to absorb excess oil is to use natural oil-based soaps.
This can be explained with the old saying, "Oil and water do not mix."
Skin oils repel water, so if a soap has an oil content, then
those oils will attract the skin oils, and wash them away.
In any event, thorough cleansing and use of anti-bacterials
are two of the most important steps to take.
Gently washing the skin in the morning and evening is only the first step in skin care, especially when you
have acne. When using warm water to wash your face, the warmth helps to
open the skin pores, so cleansing is easier. But, it's extremely important
to close or seal those pores up afterward, so after a cool rinse, a skin toner is vital.
The use of a skin toner, which should be a mild astringent, closes
the pores, prevents further bacteria intrusion, rehydrates the skin, and
adjusts the pH balance ... this is because most soaps are alkaline, and skin
thrives better when acidic, so a slightly acidic toner makes the favorable adjustment.
A light layer of aloe gel or a very light natural oil or lotion
can help to hold moisture against the skin, helping to protect it;
although, depending on your skin and the oil content of the cleanser
used, or if aloe, for instance, is a component of your toner, a moisturizer
may not be necessary.
You can further help your skin combat acne
bacteria by using products that kill the bacteria ... chemically-derived
ingredients can do this, and are often successful at it, but some
can dry your skin ... and remember, your body absorbs what you put
on it and some of these ingredients may be questionable as to
their use over time. You'll find that there are many natural ingredients
that do the job just as well, if not better, without the risks.
Warm water should be used during washing and cool water when
rinsing ... never hot and cold, which can be
irritating to the skin, and not necessary. To dry your skin,
gently pat your face with a towel or allow to air dry after
In learning more about acne, most of us find
all sorts of remedies available ... some of them
work well and others do not. Most of the time,
this has to do with the skin reactions from
person to person, but, on occasion, some of
the advice may be well-meant, but not necessarily
For instance, years ago, it was advised
to "scrub" blemished skin ... and in
some cases, with harsh chemicals, such as
powdered cleanser (!) ... as you would use to
scrub a sink! Now, we have come to understand
that while doing things to help the acne condition,
we must also take the rest of our skin into
consideration, which means to not use anything
abrasive on it that can likely serve to irritate
it or dry it out, which can possibly make the
situation worse. Eliminating excess oil
is a good thing, but stripping the natural,
protective oils of the skin can make the
acne cycle worse, and it certainly makes the
overall condition of the skin over-stressed.
Hopefully, you can discover natural ingredients that work for you
and your skin, as there is the added benefit of knowing that what
you are putting on your skin is not going to harm other areas of your
body with long-term exposure. While blemishes go through their cycle and disappear,
our skin and the rest of our body will remain with us for the long
run, so it's important to be careful about what we put on our skin.
And, while it's important to curb the infection
related to blemishes by keeping your skin clean and
healthy, remember that many people have had to deal
with acne and you are not alone. It's important to
not allow yourself to become obsessed with blemishes,
or think that you should do anything at all costs ...
just take care of your skin the best you can and try to
prevent scarring where you can. One thing you can
do is to make sure your skin is being nourished, as
the healthier your skin is, the less likely it is to scar.
Taking care of it helps to give it the "edge" it needs
to keep itself in top shape.
Also, diet and well-being affect your skin ... fast foods
and stress can make matters worse, as your overall health
is important to your skin. So, taking care of your body is
also taking care of your skin. And, just as nourishment is
vital to the body, it is also important to the skin.
Products that offer nourishment to the skin in the form
of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other natural
components, can help your skin through the acne years,
leaving you with a healthier skin and body in the long run.
You have probably heard the term "fatty acids" used
in regard to oils in foods ... these are beneficial oils
that our bodies derive important nutrients from and they
can be found in some "fatty fish," such as
salmon, mackeral, sardines, and herring, as well as
other sources, such a variety of seeds and nuts,
such as walnuts, and can also be purchased in
gel cap form as dietary supplements.
These oils help with the passage of nutrients
into cells, are good for your skin, and can
also serve as an anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation can be part of the cause with acne,
as it can trigger cells to clog pores, which can
lead to blemishes. Other skin conditions, such as eczema
and psoriasis, can also benefit from the intake
of these oils. Another benefit is that essential
fatty acids also assist with metabolism and can
help to burn body fat more effectively.
Colorful foods, rich in phytonutrients, are also
helpful to your skin ... this means fresh fruits and
vegetables. Also, some spices, such as turmeric,
cumin, coriander and black pepper can help cleanse
your system of impurities. And, eating foods such
as papaya and pineapple, which include digestive
enzymes, are beneficial, as they assist the
digestive system, and the better it is running,
the fewer toxins there are to affect your skin.
Papaya can also have beneficial effects upon
the skin ... here's a tip on how to make a
papaya vinegar spritz. Cut up a papaya,
filling a glass jar (with a lid) a little
over half full of the fruit pieces.
Top the jar up with apple cider vinegar,
covering the papaya. Place the lid on
the jar and allow this to sit in a
dark place for about a month.
Then, remove the papaya pieces from
the jar. Before use upon the skin,
dilute this with distilled water at
a ratio of about 1:2 or 1:3 (for
instance, one part vinegar to two
or three parts distilled water.)
Beyond watching what you eat, drinking plenty of water,
and getting enough sleep ... don't forget to exercise,
as this also helps to clear your skin, as a little
perspiration goes a long way in clearing toxins from
Substances, such as caffeine, alcohol, and
cigarettes have a negative effect upon the skin.
Everyday habits matter ... so watch them closely.
If they are bad for your body, then chances are they are bad for your skin.
To sum it all up ...
healthy choices and natural ingredients are very good
for your skin.
To take care of your skin, you need to take
care of yourself through making decisions
that will bring about positive results.
And, learning what works best for YOU is also
an important key.
Brief Glossary -
Aloe Vera - a succulent plant from which a gel
is derived that offers many practical benefits to
the skin, contains enzymes, amino acids,
proteins, minerals and vitamins
Astringent - constricts or "draws together" body tissues,
tightens up pores, such as found in skin toners
Antioxidant - neutralizes or reduces environmental toxins,
such as ultraviolet rays from the sun, known as "free radicals"
Apple Cider Vinegar - a vinegar made from apples that has many useful
purposes; normally diluted for skin care use; balances pH of the skin,
making it more acidic, which can minimize bacteria
Benzoyl peroxide - an organic peroxide often used in treating acne with success; although may
produce side effects in some people, such as dry spots, itching,
tightness, and irritation
Castile Soap - a natural, oil-based soap primarily made
with olive oil and other natural oils, making it a very
gentle soap with a thorough cleansing action
... gentle on the skin and the environment
Comedogenic - substances that clog pores
Essential oil - fragrant natural plant extracts produced through distillation
of certain plants which are highly concentrated; some of them hold properties
which are beneficial to the skin, for instance, tea tree oil is known to kill
bacteria, while others may help with oil control, or soothe troubled skin
Exfoliate - a thorough cleansing of the skin which uses
friction to remove dead skin cells, making way for new ones
French Green Clay - a highly absorbant clay full of vital
minerals that help to draw toxins from the skin, exfoliate,
cleanse, and detoxify
Green Tea (Camellia sinesis) - a tea from which the leaves
have antioxidant qualities, which can be beneficial to the skin
and has been shown to be a beneficial acne tonic
Hydrosol - a fragrant fluid that is created from the steam
distillation process during the creation of essential oils ...
the oil from the plant becomes the essential oil, and the
steam (fluid), the hydrosol; used on the skin to help balance
the pH level (making it more acidic), which reduces bacteria
growth (bacteria does not thrive in acidic environments);
for instance, Witch Hazel in true hydrosol form (varies from
the drug store source, which normally has isopropyl "rubbing" alcohol added)
soothes and cleanses, without drying
Ionic Silver - silver ions in water which can be used topically
to reduce bacteria growth; known to some as a way of helping
to prevent blemishes
Natural oils - plant oils that beautify the skin through
nourishment of vitamins and minerals; absorbed easily,
unlike many synthetic oils, such as mineral oil
(a petroleum-based product), which can clog pores and
have no nutritive value
Witch Hazel - an astringent produced from the leaves
and bark of the Witch Hazel shrub ... cools the
skin, relieving inflammation; known for gentle
Color Up Your Diet
Statements on this page have not been evaluated
U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration.
Information regarding other skin types ...
Our skin maintains a delicate moisture balance.
We may lose this balance for a variety of reasons.
Read more ...
Living with skin that produces more oil than it needs takes a bit of patience and
Read more ...
Ideally, caring for combination skin requires a bit
of knowledge about how to care for balanced,
dry, and oily skin.
Read more ...