Acne Solutions Guide
Acne, a common scourge of the teen years, can affect you well into adulthood. A variety of treatments exist and you might have to experiment a bit to find what works best for you. Ultimately, a multipronged strategy involving healthy eating, self-care and possibly medications offers your best bet for management.
Acne and Carbohydrates
A study published in a 2004 issue of the "Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology" looked at the connection between acne and eating foods with either a high or low glycemic index, a ranking of foods based on how quickly they raise your blood sugar. The study, led by Robyn M. Smith of MRIT University in Melbourne, Australia, looked at the diets of a group of teenage boys over the course of 12 weeks. The group who ate a lower-glycemic index diet had lower amounts of androgens, hormones associated with acne, and lower insulin levels, the hormone released to process carbohydrates, as well as fewer acne lesions. This suggests that eating foods that cause a large release of blood sugar and insulin might influence the hormonal processes that lead to acne. High-glycemic index foods include sugary foods and drinks as well as refined, white flour carbohydrates like pasta and bread.
Acne and Milk
Milk consumption might also contribute to acne, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health. It surveyed the milk-drinking habits in high school of over 47,000 women. Those who drank more than three cups daily were 22 percent more likely to report severe teenage acne compared to women who drank less than one cup weekly. The connection was particularly strong for those who consumed skim milk. Other dairy products linked to acne in the study include cottage cheese, cream cheese and instant breakfast drinks that contain dairy. Hormones and other substances in milk appear to contribute to acne by augmenting oil production.
Many topical medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can help with acne lesions. Salicylic acid helps remove dead skin cells and unclog pores, and you can find it in many over-the-counter products. Benzoyl peroxide and a derivative of vitamin A have also been found effective; while you can find them OTC, the most effective dosages come in prescription form, for more serious acne. Mayoclinic.com notes that oral antibiotics can help moderate-to-severe acne when used for a short course. Many women find that taking oral contraceptives helps balance hormones and improves acne.
The University of Maryland of Medical Center, or UMMC, explains that many natural treatments might help with acne. It notes that you must use them for at least six to eight weeks before seeing noticeable effects. Zinc has demonstrated effectiveness in studies, but taking higher doses such as those recommended for acne can cause side effects. Do so only under the supervision of a doctor. The UMMC notes that a study looking at the effects of the Ayurvedic herb guggul demonstrated effectiveness equal to that of a popular antibiotic for acne, tetracycline. Many Ayurvedic treatments have demonstrated effectiveness against acne, the Center notes; consider working with an Ayurvedic practitioner for help in choosing supplements.
Resist the urge to use several topical treatments at once; this can aggravate the skin and worsen acne. You do not need to wash your face excessively; twice a day with a mild cleanser will suffice. Use sun-protection if using treatments made with vitamin A, because it can increase your sensitivity to the sun. Look for skin care products labeled non-comodogenic, or water-based -- this indicates they do not contain oils.
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