Acne Vulgaris is the most common skin condition in the United States. It is characterized by follicular papules or comedones and inflammatory papules or pustules. Factors that influence the disease formation include infection with Propionibacterium acnes, excess sebum production, tissue inflammation, plugging of hair follicles and hormonal imbalances. Conventional therapy may include topical treatments and systemic medications, which can have many adverse effects. Let’s look at some alternative and safer treatments to acne.
Dietary changes can produce improvement or complete resolution of lesions in many patients. Refined sugars have been known to exacerbate acne. Numerous investigators have reported that allergy or sensitivity to foods is a major contributing factor in some cases of acne. Exacerbations of acne could result from reactions or from the effects of active substances in certain foods. These foods include hormones in cow’s milk and possibly amines in chocolates. Other common aggravating foods include foods like tomatoes, oranges, nuts, wheat, pork and soy. There are other alternatives besides changing your diet to consider.
Zinc deficiency has been observed in patients with acne vulgaris. Studies have found significantly lower serum zinc levels in patients with severe acne than in the control group. Zinc is an antioxidant, helps stabilize cell membranes, and has anti-inflammatory effects. Since acne is thought to have an inflammatory component zinc may help. Large quantities of zinc can interfere with Copper absorption so make sure you take the two together. Studies recommend a dosage of 30mg of zinc 2-3 times per day for 3 months.
Vitamins that may help with acne include vitamins B3, A and B6. Niacinamide (B3) both topically and orally has been used to treat a variety of inflammatory skin disorders including Acne Vulgaris. Another vitamin found to be low in patients with acne is vitamin A. Some studies have found that supplementing vitamin A to be effective while others found it to be ineffective. So while there is controversy on the effectiveness of vitamin A it may work for you. However, do not take vitamin A if you are pregnant or nursing. Vitamin B6 has been found beneficial for pre-menstrual acne flares.
Finally, tea tree oil has been used traditionally as a topical antiseptic and antifungal treatment. One study found that tea tree oil worked as well as 5% benzoyl peroxide in controlling the symptoms of acne. Tea tree oil is only a topical treatment and it should never be taken by mouth. Remember to always consult your healthcare physician before trying alternative treatments to make sure they are safe for you.
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