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Acne

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Acne
Summary
  • Acne is a skin condition seen as blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and inflamed and infected nodules found on the face, neck, chest and back.
  • In some studies it has been found that as many as 80% teenagers are affected by Acne which can be caused by many factors.
  • As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat this condition.
Description

Acne is a skin condition seen as blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and inflamed and infected nodules found on the face, neck, chest and back. People with Acne often feel self-conscious about the blemishes on their complexion1.

This condition is found more in younger people. In some studies it has been found that as many as 80% teenagers are affected by Acne which can be caused by many factors2. Acne can be related to abnormal keratinisation (thickening of the skin cells), excess oil secretion, inflammation due to the presence of bacteria and the levels of the male hormone, androgen, present in both males and females.

Acne is often worse during the winter months and shows improvement in the summer. This may be due to the beneficial effect of the sun,3 however, excess sunning may worsen Acne. There is no evidence to suggest that a person's diet can actually cause Acne. Other factors that relate to acne include: family history, hormonal changes e.g. puberty, allergies,oral contraceptives (while certain types may be prescribed to improve Acne), stress, environmental factors, poor diet, poor hygiene and poor health.

  • Health Management

    As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat this condition.
    Sometimes your Doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. If the case is severe there are other treatments available from your Doctor.


    Lifestyle

    Diet Hints
    • Though not scientifically proven, diet may be a factor in Acne control. Acne may be the result of too many acid producing foods such as meat and sugar. Fruits (even citrus fruits) and vegetables help to alkalise the body. Improve the diet by reducing fats, oils and meats, eliminating sugar and chocolate and increasing the intake of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
    • The diet should be rich in food sources of vitamin A, beta-carotene, zinc, fibre and fish oils. These nutrients may promote healing of the skin.
    • Assist in eliminating waste products by regulating bowel function and eating plenty of soluble fibre e.g., fresh fruits, vegetables and garlic. Drinking plenty of clean, filtered water and raw vegetable juices may help to keep the bowels clean and regular.
    • The diet should be low in saturated fats, particularly fried foods, commercial pastries, and chocolate and also low in refined sugars. Use low fat dairy foods and low fat cooking techniques4. Occasionally food sensitivity is a cause of Acne which occurs after the teenage years. Check for salicylate sensitivity (see the Elimination Trial Diet and the Hives and Hyperactivity Diet topics in the Healthpoint). If the liver is damaged, one of the symptoms may be poor skin and the formation of pimples. A person with liver damage may have trouble digesting protein5. In this case, it is best to seek advice from a Dietitian about which foods to avoid and include in the diet e.g., replacing wheat-based foods with gluten-free varieties such as gluten-free bread.

    Vitamins/Minerals/Herbs

    Vitamins may only be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate.

    • Vitamin A and zinc may help relieve acne6.
    • Vitamin B6 and folic acid may aid in acne related to menstrual dysfunction7.
    • An antioxidant or multivitamin may help if the diet is high in refined foods.
    • Vitamin B2 supplementation may aid in acne rosacea8.
    • Echinacea can be taken as a lymphatic herb or fresh lemon juice in water will also help clear lymphatic congestion.
    • Ginkgo biloba may help stimulate blood circulation throughout the body, especially to the skin9.
    • Marshmallow has a soothing, healing and anti-inflammatory effect on the skin10.
    • Calendula may have a soothing and antiseptic action on the skin. Calendula may also stimulate the lymphatic system11.
    • Sarsaparilla may help balance hormones and clean the blood12.
  • Pharmacist's Advice

    Ask your Pharmacist for advice.

    1. Follow the Diet Hints.
    2. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of fresh water a day. This helps prevent dehydration and constipation associated with Acne. Water is thought to help with the cleansing of the body 13. Filtered water is preferable. Consider using a special Water Filter Jug.
    3. Cleanse the skin thoroughly with a suitable antiseptic cleanser (Ego QV Wash, Acnederm Wash, Cetaphil Lotion). A special Acne product containing Benzoyl Peroxide (Benzac, Penoxil, Acnederm) might be suggested to be applied after cleansing the skin14. Ask your Pharmacist for advice. There are many brands and are available as a soap, liquid or a foam. Always pat the affected area dry rather than vigorously rubbing. QV Cream may be used after cleansing. Always ask for advice on the most suitable product.
    4. Include yoghurt or some acidophilus in the diet. Acidophilus can be useful in establishing a healthy internal flora and promoting the bowels to eliminate properly.
    5. Some cosmetic products may aggravate the condition, especially those that contain certain ingredients such as isopropyl myristate. Any compounds which are greasy should also be avoided.
    6. Your Pharmacist might suggest a special cream containing tretinoin which may help in cases of Acne15. Sunlight may aggravate irritation caused by topical applications (i.e., retinoids), therefore these need to be applied at night.
    7. If the diet is inadequate consider some supplements.
  • Notes

    References

    1. Sykes NL, et al. Acne. A review of optimum treatment. Drugs.1994 Jul;48(1):59-70.
    2. Healy E, et al. Acne vulgaris. BMJ. 1994 Mar 26; 308(6932): 831-3.
    3. Dermatologic Disorders. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. 16th Edition. USA. 1992.
    4. Dunne LJ. Nutrition Almanac (3rd Ed) Australia: McGraw-Hill Publishing company, 1990. pg. 131-132.
    5. Mason P. Liver Disease. Nutrition and Dietary Advice in the Pharmacy. Blackwell Scientific Publications. 1994.
    6. Osieki H. 1990. Physicians Handbook of Clinical Nutrition. Bioconcepts Publishing. Brisbane. Australia.
    7. Osieki H. 1990. Physicians Handbook of Clinical Nutrition. Bioconcepts Publishing. Brisbane. Australia.
    8. Osieki H. 1990. Physicians Handbook of Clinical Nutrition. Bioconcepts Publishing. Brisbane. Australia.
    9. Weiss R. Herbal Medicine. Arcanum.1988.pp178.
    10. Mabey R. New Herbal.Penguin 1988.pp86.
    11. Herbal Medicines. Newall, Anderson & Phillipson. The Pharmaceutical Press. 1996.pp58.
    12. Mabey R. New Herbal.Penguin 1988.pp233. 
    13. Yamamoto A, et al. Impaired water barrier function in acne vulgaris.; Arch-Dermatol-Res. 1995; 287(2): 214-8.
    14. Bojar RA, et al. The short-term treatment of acne vulgaris with benzoyl peroxide: effects on the surface and follicular cutaneous microflora.; Br-J-Dermatol. 1995 Feb; 132(2): 204-8.
    15. Gebauer K. Current Therapeutics pp69; June 1998.
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