Acne is the most common skin problem. Once thought to affect teens mainly, it is now common in women into their 30's.

Acne's progression is a determined by the interaction between hormonal factors, keratin production and bacteria.

Predominately a condition that affects the face, however eruptions may appear on the back, chest and shoulders.

Signs and Symptoms

There are 3 major types, each with slightly different manifestations

  • Acne vulgaris - superficial disease affecting the hair follicles and oil-secreting glands, may result in blackheads, whiteheads, and redness.
  • Acne conglobata - a more severe form, with cysts which result in scarring.
  • Acne Rosacea is a chronic acne-like eruption, associated with facial flushing.


Problems orginated in the pores which consist of a hair follicle and sebaseous gland. These glands are more prevalent on the face, back, shoulders and chest.

Over production of keratin stimulated by testosterone, in male teens, can block the pores and lead to inflammation and blackheads.

Commonly, thought to be a testosterone dependant condition, acne may actually be a more dependant on the condition of the suffers skin. The increased activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which is involved in testosterone conversion may actually lead to outbreaks rather than testosterone itself.

May be a inherited condition.


  • Poor diet may contribute to fluctuating hormone levels.
  • Steroid use can produce acne like lesions
  • Skincare products, make-up and over washing may cause breakouts.
  • Oral contraceptives high in progesterone may cause breakouts.
  • Stress and lifestyle factors can affect hormone balance also.
  • Presence of Candida Albicans may make this condition worse.

Self Care

  • Keep skin as clean as possible, without stripping the natural oils completely as this will encourage the skin to produce more oil. Astringent products may work best.
  • Avoid medicines that list acne as a side effect - ananbolic steroids, corticosteriods, oral contraception.
  • Avoid exposure to oils and greases. Limit or remove saturated fat from the diet.
  • Use light easily absorbed creams.
  • Wash pillowcases often to limit bacteria spreading. Use fragrance and colour free detergents.
  • Remove refined foods and sugar from the diet, as these affect hormone levels

Medical Treatment

Benzyl peroxide (topical) is often used to treat acne. This does come with side effects including redness and peeling.

Antiobiotics are most commonly prescribed, but longer term use can result in a Candida Albicans over growth which may in turn make the acne worse.

Tretinoin is often prescribed for topical use. with more side effects than benzyl peroxide. It acts by chemically burning the surface of the skin. Redness and peeling can be more severe and more common.

Nutritional Help

  • Zinc is important for skin health. It is also involved in the metabolism of testosterone. Involved in Viatmin A function, wound healing, immune system activity, inflammation control and tissue regeneration. Low levels have been found to be a contributing factor in adolescent acne.
  • Vitamin E is important for the proper functioning of Viatmin A (which has a role in reducing sebum production)
  • Chromium aids in reducing infections of the skin
  • Acidophilus replenishes essential bacteria, reduced with antibiotic use.
  • Essential fatty acids repairs tissues and helps dissolve fatty deposits that block pores.
  • Garlic, destroys bacteria and inhances immune function. Take raw for best therapeutic action.

Herbal Help

  • Tea tree oil, a natural antiseptic and antibiotic, has been shown to be just as effective as Benzyl Peroxide. add a few drops to water and use to treat spots and cleanse skin.
  • Try using liver support herbs. If the liver is not functioning correctly acne may worsen. Dandelion leaves, milk thistle, and burdock root will cleanse and support the liver.
  • Lavender, strawberry and red clover can be used to make a facial steam bath. Do not steam the face if acne is extensive or badly inflammed.

Ayurvedic Recommendations

Neem and Sarsaparilla are sweet and bitter herbs used for their cooling and soothing effect on the skin. Use for skin inflammations when they are red, sore and oozing.