Thursday, February 22, 2018

Acne Treatments

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Category: Acne

“Most people can manage acne on their own,” says family practitioner Anne Simons, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of California’s San Francisco Medical Center. “But if you have severe (cystic) acne—red, hot skin with cysts and nodules—see a professional.” There are many things you can do at home to take care of you skin that will help avoid bad acne.

Home Remedies for Acne

  • To squeeze or not to squeeze? Dermatologists discourage squeezing blackheads and popping whiteheads. They contend that squeezing and popping just increase your risk of aggravating the situation and causing scarring. “But everyone squeezes their pimples,” Dr. Brauer says. “Saying ‘don’t do it’ is ridiculous. Just do it gently, with clean fingers, and maybe dab the spot with alcohol before and after to keep the area disinfected.”
  • Wash, but don’t overdo it. Wash your skin twice daily with a mild soap, Dr. Simons advises, one without moisturizing oils that can clog your pores. So-called “acne soaps” with sulfur aren’t particularly effective because the medication washes away with rinsing. Excessive washing and scrubbing with harsh cleansers has little impact on acne and may dry, chap, and irritate the skin, as well as increasing side effects of effective topical treatments.
  • Make do with less make-up. Even though today’s cosmetics are less likely to contribute to acne, you may have particularly sensitive skin. Experiment with different brands. Use water-based instead of oil-based products. “In general,” says family practitioner Alan Gaby, M.D., a professor of nutrition at Bastyr University, the naturopathic medical school near Seattle, “try to use cosmetics as little as possible.”
  • Fight friction. If your acne develops where occupational or recreational headgear touch your face, the American Pharmaceutical Association suggests consider doing without it. Don’t rest your chin or cheek on your hands.

Dietary Supplements and Acne

Think zinc. Hormonally, there’s more to acne than just a surge of androgens. The most acne-stimulating male sex hormone is dihydro- tesosterone (DHT). High blood levels of zinc knock down DHT levels, so it should come as no surprise that adolescent boys, who generally have worse acne than girls, also have lower blood-zinc levels.

About a dozen studies have tested zinc supplementation as an acne treatment. Most, though not all, show significant benefit. In one report, 12 weeks of zinc treatment (135 mg/day) reduced the number of pimples by 85 percent. Dr. Pizzorno recommends 50 mg of zinc piolinate a day.

Herbal Medicine for Acne

Acne-free with teatree. When the British explorer, Captain Cook, first arrived in Australia in 1777, he found the aborigines treating skin infections with the crushed leaves of the tea tree (Melaluca alterniflora, not the plant whose leaves give us beverage tea). Modern science has discovered that the oil liberated by crushing tea tree leaves is a powerful antiseptic that can help treat acne.

At Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown, New South Wales, researchers gave 124 mild-to-moderate acne sufferers either an over-the-counter 5 percent benzoyl peroxide lotion or a lotion containing tea tree oil. The benzoyl peroxide lotion delivered faster relief, but by the end of the study, both treatments were equally effective, and the tea tree oil caused fewer side effects.

Tea tree oil is available at most health food stores and herb shops. If you use it, Andrew Weil, M.D., a professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a noted advocate of combining mainstream and complementary therapies, advises using 100 percent pure oil. Check labels. Skin irritation is possible. If it develop, stop using it. Do not ingest tea tree oil.

Over the Counter Acne Treatment Products

Four safe, effective active ingredients. More than 50 over-the-counter acne treatments crowd pharmacy shelves, but they are all limited to the four active ingredients the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows:

  • salicylic acid (in Clearasil Clearstick, Neutrogena Clear Pore, Oxy Balance, Stri-Dex),
  • sulfur (Fostril, Liquimat),
  • sulfur-resorcinol (Clearasil Adult Care, Sulforcin), and
  • benzoyl peroxide (Fostex, Neutrogena Acne, Oxy-10).

Salicylic acid, sulfur, and sulfur-resorcinol break up comedone plugs. Benzoyl poeroxide opens pores and kills the bacteria involved in acne.

The FDA considers all these products safe, but reports that benzoyl peroxide might promote tumor growth have led the agency to conduct further investigations. Consult your physician with questions about these products.

Follow package directions. Because skin sensitivity varies widely, the American Pharmaceutical Association says no one product is best for everyone. Experiment and see which one(s) clear your acne. If a rash, skin redness, or signifcant irritation develop, stop using the product.

Other Good Choices for Acne Treatment

Hydrotherapy for Your Skin

Open your pores with heat. Warm water can help open your pores, allowing sebum and dead skin cells to flow freely without plugging them up. Dr. Weil suggests applying a hot compress a few times a day. However, high humidity aggravates some people’s acne. If you notice this, warm wet compresses may not work for you.

Chinese Medicine for Acne

Cool Heat, dry Dampness. In Chinese medicine, San Francisco Chinese physician Efrem Korngold, L.Ac., O.M.D., co-author (with Harriet Beinfield, L.Ac.) of Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine, acne results from excess Heat in your skin, hence the inflammation and infection, and excess Dampness, evidenced by the viscous pus in pimples. In addition skin problems are closely linked to the Lung and Large Intestine organ systems. “Treatment involves cooling Heat and drying Dampness,” he explains, “plus supporting the Lung and Large Intestine.”

Dr. Korngold advises eating more Cooling foods—raw fruits and vegetables, a recommendation that echoes the research suggesting that a high-fiber diet helps. He also suggests avoiding foods that generate Heat: hot spices, meats, and fatty, greasy foods.

Dr. Korngold also prescribes herbs that cool Heat and dry Dampness, among them: Smilax (sarsparilla), honeysuckle, forsythia, rhubarb, Sophora, and the shells of bivalves (clams, oysters, abalone).

Acupuncture Treatment for Acne

The World Health Organization endorses acupuncture for treating acne. Dr. Korngold suggests these points:

  • Large Intestine 11. On your outer arm, in the hollow formed between the end of your elbow crease and your elbow when your arm is bent at a right angle.

  • Large Intestine 4. On top of your hand, in the hollow of the muscle between your thumb and index finger.

Homeopathy and Acne

Try a microdose medicine. Homeopaths prescribe several ultra-dilute medicines for acne. Berkeley, California, homeopath Dana Ullman, M.P.H., author of The Consumer’s Guide to Homeopathy, suggests: Silicea (silica) for whitehead pimples, Hepar sulph (calcium sulfide) for pimples that are painful to touch, Kali mur (potassium chloride) for pimples with thick white pus, and Graphites (black lead) for acne with yellowish pus. Take the sixth potency three times a day for two to five days, he says.

Ayurvedic Medicine for Acne

Get gugulipid. Gugulipid (also known as guggul) is an extract of the Indian mukul myrrh tree (Commiphora mukul). It is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine to lower cholesterol. It also appears to help relieve acne. In one Indian study, 30 people with moderate-to-severe acne were given gugulipid (500 mg three times a day for six weeks). Three-quarters showed “good” or “excellent” response. Guggul is available at some health food stores.

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