prescription for clear skin

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Section: INSIDE & OUT: PERSONAL CARE
STOP THE BREAKOUT CYCLE WITH FOODS, SUPPLEMENTS, AND TOPICAL PRODUCTS THAT ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSES OF ACNE

Sixty million Americans have acne, making it the most common skin disease in the United States. According to the American Dermatologist Association, nearly 20 percent of adults and 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 have acne.

Acne is caused by one or more factors, including excess oil production, poor exfoliation, genetics, diet, stress, and hormones. Forms of acne range from clogged pores resulting in white- and blackheads to severely infected nodules or cysts. Increased hormone production during puberty or menstruation can cause excess oil production, providing a perfect environment for bacteria to flourish on the skin's surface. Infectious, painful acne is often the combination of trapped dead skin cells, dirt, increased oil production, and bacteria.

Many people trying to control their acne resort to harsh prescription or over-the-counter medications that dry the skin but then cause excess oil production, creating a vicious cycle. Acne can be controlled and even eliminated completely by utilizing a comprehensive, inside-out natural treatment plan.

From the Outside
Because acne affects physical appearance, most people want to deal with it from the outside first. This is possible by following a simple, four-step strategy that includes using the following:

A nontoxic exfoliating cleanser with antibacterial ingredients
Essential oils, such as lemongrass or lavender, to calm overactive oil glands
A natural mud mask and exfoliating peel
A flavonoid-rich, hydrating cream
Cranberry, tea tree, and totarol from the New Zealand totara tree are effective antibacterial ingredients. Fruit flavonoids, enzymes, and herbs such as aloe, green tea, neem, and shea help hydrate, calm, and support skin cells. Fruit pulps, such as pumpkin purée, are rich sources of vitamin A and other carotenoids, which can help heal acne.

"The combination of dead skin, dirt, and excessive oil create fertile ground for bacteria to thrive and is at the heart of most acne problems," explains Sabarinathan Kuttalingam Gopalasubramaniam, PhD, a research scientist with the Center of Advanced Studies in Agricultural Microbiology with the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University in India. "To get rid of acne, the focus must be on gentle, consistent exfoliation, cleansing, and hydration to help normalize oil production," says Kuttalingam Gopalasubramaniam, who believes totarol is especially effective against Propionium bacteria — the bacteria that causes acne.

It is important to use products that contain nontoxic ingredients so as not to dry or irritate the skin. Products that excessively strip skin of its natural moisture content can actually worsen acne. Synthetic chemicals and toxic: ingredients in products can also increase inflammation and damage skin tissue.

According to author and clinician Ray Sahelian, MD, acne is primarily an inflammatory process. Sahelian suffered from teenage and adult acne. He changed his diet to alleviate his condition.

Anti-Acne Diet
"I strongly believe food influences acne severity," says Sahelian. "I prefer to approach acne treatment from the food-and-diet perspective as opposed to relying on drugs."

Sahelian is not alone in his thinking Many studies have shown that dairy products in particular can irritate or cause acne. It is important to determine dietary acne triggers, which can vary from one individual to another. Food allergies can also cause acne. In addition to dairy, food allergens that can contribute to acne include refined carbohydrates, nuts, and chocolate. According to preliminary research, it may be the milk and sugar in chocolate that causes acne — not the chocolate itself. If you do eat chocolate, stick with the dark varieties (the darker, the better).

All forms of refined carbohydrates, especially in the form of soda, have been shown to contribute to acne. Sahelian reminds his patients that in addition to sugar, foods such as breads, chips, processed flour, and foods that contain trans or hydrogenated fats are also likely to promote acne.

A diet that emphasizes organic vegetables, fresh fish, and low-fat, high-fiber foods will help control acne. In addition, drink at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily to stay hydrated inside and out. Dietary supplements are available to provide anti-acne nutrients and help complement a healthful diet. Some of the key anti-acne nutrients are zinc, essential fatty acids (including flaxseed and borage oil), and vitamins A, B6, and C.

Acne can be emotionally, as well as physically, damaging. Through dietary changes and the use of nontoxic skin care products, many people are able to completely alleviate their acne.

PHOTO (COLOR): Natural Products that Help Keep Skin Acne Free: BLEMISH TREATMENT LOTIONby Home Health

PHOTO (COLOR): Enzymatic Therapy's DERMA KLEAR AKNE-ZYME

PHOTO (COLOR): Collective Wellbeing's CHANGE FOR THE BETTER MEDICATED ACNE TREATMENT KIT

PHOTO (COLOR): MyChelle's OIL-FREE GRAPEFRUIT CREAM (Use with MyChelle's CRANBERRY CLEANSER for best results.)

PHOTO (COLOR): Thera Neem's FACIAL COMPLEXION/BOTANICAL CLEANSING BAR by Organix South Inc.

PHOTO (COLOR)

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By Karolyn A. Gazella

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