Updated: Apr 26
Beautiful flawless skin.
A sign of health, beauty, and status that many young teens and older individuals search for alike.
But it seems so elusive to so many, especially to the ones to who it would matter most, teens.
Why is acne so prevalent in teenagers?
Acne, also called acne vulgaris (as in common not vulgar), seems to affect our younger counterparts at a much higher proportion than women and men who have gone through puberty.
It's no secret that acne is caused by hormones and pubescent teens are practically ranging with them!
But hormones don't make up the whole picture.
There are other parts at play that must come together to create the perfect storm that is acne.
It seems like one day, your skin looks perfect and you're ready to go on the date of your dreams but the very next, you have an angry red spot on your forehead the size of a third eye that hurts when you breathe.
So how does acne occur?
Acne is a complex condition caused by an infection of plugged hair follicles by bacteria called Cutibacterium acnes (formally called Propionibacterium acnes).
Acne begins when your skin start producing excess sebum, an oily waxy substance produced by your sebaceous glands. Sebum is produced to help keep your skin moist but too much of it wreaks havoc on your skin because it can cause plugged hair follicles.
When hyperkeratinization (or abnormally rapid shedding of skin cells) occurs along with excess sebum production, the hair follicle gets plugged which leads to an increased chance of infection by C. acnes .
C. acnes usually lives on our skin without issue but plugged hair follicles leads to infection and chronic inflammation.
Where do the hormones come in?
Excess sebum production is created by androgens, like testosterone, which is produced in greater quantities in both males and females during puberty.
With chronic inflammation and infection, acne causes unsightly marks on the skin and can affect self esteem.
So how do you get rid of acne?
There are multibillion dollar industries in the US that seeks to get rid of our skin and beauty issues and acne is certainly on their list. It seems like everyone from the corner drug store to the dermatologist has their own solution for acne.
But some of the best solutions are dietary, stress reduction, and botanical oils, low level LED red light and Blue light, and herbal extracts.
Have you ever thought that what you're eating might be causing your acne? If you have, then you're not alone.
While some dermatologists still haven't made the connection between diet and skin eruptions, many more doctors, naturopathic, holistic, and conventional have made the connection clear.
After all, you are what you eat.
How diet contributes to acne severity and frequency has a lot to do with increased amounts of inflammation and the release of molecules that contribute to inflammation, namely inflammatory cytokines interleukin-1 (IL-1).
Increased signs of inflammation has been linked to increased hyperkeratinzation and has been found in acne lesions themselves .
There also seems to be a link to dairy and carbohydrate consumption when it comes to acne. In fact, more specifically, cheese consumption, was linked to an increase in acne frequency while increased carbohydrate intake was linked to an increase in acne severity .
Both nonorganic conventional dairy and carbs, especially wheat have been thought to be the most inflammatory foods in our modern diet.
If you want to decrease inflammation, then adding anti-inflammatory foods high in nutrients like omega-3s will do the trick. Foods high in omega-3s include mackeral, salmon, cod liver oil, chia seeds and flax seeds.
Stress and the way we respond to it certainly has a huge impact on our bodies. When it comes to acne, there's no difference.
While stress in the form of epinephrine or adrenaline, can help our bodies get into flight or flight mode when we feel cornered, it can also contribute to the strength and pathogenicity of the bacteria C. acnes.
Research has shown that C. acnes responds to adrenaline in the body by creating stronger biofilms .
Biofilms are a type of structure that bacteria create to protect themselves from being disrupted.
Most people think of the biofilms and immediately think of teeth.
Biofilms act like a glue that surround the bacteria and keep it from being attacked by your immune system.
And biofilms can make getting rid of a bacterial infection, like C. acnes, very very difficult. Add that in with increased inflammation and there's no wonder that acne is hard to treat!
To get rid of biofilms you can take curcumin, apple cider vinegar, garlic, and oregano to help break it up and decrease inflammation.
Also including stress reduction techniques like deep breathing and journaling into your day will go a long way in helping prevent future breakouts!
Botanical oils are a real star when it comes to getting rid of acne.
Research shows that plant oils like tea tree oil and rosemary oil are beneficial is getting rid of acne that even antibiotics couldn't even get rid of .
That's because both tea tree and rosemary oil contain powerful antibacterial molecules that allow them to kill bacteria like C. acnes.
Research shows that while both of these oils are effective topicals for acne, tea tree oil has more of a powerful effect.
When using these oils for acne, it is important to use them topically, placed on the skin, and not internally because of their powerful antibacterial properties.
Also it is important to mix tea tree and rosemary oils in a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil if placing directly on skin to avoid any skin irritation.
Low Level LED Red Light and Blue light
When it comes to fighting acne, light itself can't be beat!
Low level LED red light and blue light combined can be just the therapy to get rid of acne for good.
That's because research shows that low level LED red light has anti-inflammatory properties while blue light has bactericidal properties . This means that red light can help calm the inflammation driving acne and blue light can help destroy the C. acne bacteria itself.
Red light also gives the benefit of reducing oil production so there's less clogged follicles to get infected in the first place.
While blue and red light combined is a great option for acne, they usually work best with repeated sessions and a topical cream that helps prevent oxidative stress, like one that contains resveratrol .
Herbals extracts have been gaining popularity over the past few years for a good reason: they work!
When it comes to acne, some herbs are more effective or more tolerated than benzoyl peroxide . Some of the herbs that have been studies include European stoneseed (Lithospemum officinale), mangosteen (Garcinia mangostana), goathead weed (Tribulus terrestris), among others.
Herbal extracts can be very safe and effective when it comes to acne whether taken internally or topically
Many herbs have different ways of working in the body to heal acne including hormone stabilization like goatweed, immune building like mangosteen, and anti-inflammatory actions like European stoneseed.
These herbs have been shown to reduce acne lesions, inflammation, and hyperkeratinization in an 8 week period .
Always make sure to talk to your naturopathic physician before taking any herbal remedies.
Acne can be detrimental to yours looks and your self esteem but with these natural holistic ways to take care of acne, you'll be looking your best in no time!