About 50 percent of young women and 75 percent of young men develop acne. Although acne usually clears up around age 20, it is not uncommon for acne to progress into later years of life.
Contrary to popular belief, acne is not caused by poor hygiene. Rather, it is more closely related to hormones, increasing pore size and bacteria growing on the skin that can cause infection and subsequent inflammation. Washing your face twice per day with a mild soap is recommended to help clean pores. Washing your face more frequently and using strong cleansers that dry out the skin can actually worsen acne and cause irritation.
Prescription medications and antibiotics are available to treat acne, but they often have significant side effects. Fortunately, there are many things that can be done naturally to help clear up acne:
- Eat a healthy, clean diet that is high in fruits, veggies and fiber, and low in fat and refined sugar. This is much more effective than cutting out individual “problem foods” such as chocolate.
- Because hormones are processed in the liver, eating liver-supportive foods can help clear up acne. Include brassica vegetables, leafy greens and high-fiber foods such as such as pears, apples and oatmeal to add extra liver support.
- Finally, it is important to drink water, as opposed to energy drinks, juice and soda.
There are a number of herbs, vitamins and minerals that can be helpful as well. Many of these, such as zinc, can be consumed in the diet. For more individualized information about which treatments and doses are appropriate for you, make an appointment at Bastyr Center for Natural Health at (206) 834-4100.
— Lela Altman, ND, LAc, naturopathic doctor, licensed acupuncturist and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.