I am 15 years old, and at the start of last summer, I had perfectly clear, slightly dry skin — but when I got back from summer camp, my face exploded (not literally). My skin is still dry, but I have pimples and millions of little bumps all over my forehead, jaw and hairline. I can’t use prescription medications because they are too drying and cause my skin to peel (I know because I’ve tried a whole lot of them). Is there anything natural that will help restore my skin to its healthy and smooth finish?
I don’t think I’ve met too many teenagers who didn’treport problems with pimples and even acne. It’s often more of a problem in boys than in girls, but in either case, the problems are similar. There are three major forms of acne. Probably you have acne vulgaris, which is a superficial disease that affects the hair follicles and oil-secreting glands of the skin. The result is what we call blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples.
The origin of the problem is in the pilosebaceous unit, which is the unit that consists of the hair follicle and the associated sebaceous glands. The glands produce sebum, which is a mixture of oils and waxes. Testosterone stimulates the cells that line the hair follicle canal to produce more keratin and overproduction of keratin can block the skin pores. Also, testosterone causes the sebaceous glands to enlarge and produce more sebum – that too will block pores. When the blockage occurs, bacteria can then become overpopulated and release enzymes that promote inflammation. Now the pimples might not only be black, or white, but inflamed as well. If the inflammation is severe, then we also can get a lot more redness and pustules or maybe even deeper cysts. So basically, acne is typically considered to be a hormone problem.
Key dietary recommendations are to avoid sugar, avoid saturated fats, milk and fried foods. Key nutrients to use in supplementation are zinc, vitamin A, vitamin E, selenium and chromium. Topical treatment with tea tree oil may be helpful. Other helpful hints include avoiding greasy creams or cosmetics, keeping the face free from oil and sebum by washing thoroughly twice daily using liquid soaps (castille), not bar soap which contains waxy substances.
Consider the following doses (for a person 15 years of age):
- chromium – 200 mcg/day
- Vitamin A – 25,000 i.u./day
- Vitamin E – 400 i.u./day
- Zinc – 35-45 mcg/day
- Multiple vitamin/mineral – 1/day
An additional note: if you’re periods are irregular or farther apart than every 35 days, see your doctor. You may have a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome, which is the cause of overproduction of testosterone in women.
Fortunately, most cases of teenage acne disappear with age and your skin will be just fine again.