Many of us have suffered from some form of acne, and continue to do so through adulthood. There’s a variety of acne medications available, but often, people don’t want to take them because they have unpleasant side effects. Some medications prescribed by dermatologists are so strong they can only be taken for short periods of time, because prolonged use can damage the body. In my work as a holistic health and image coach, I can tell you with confidence that acne is best treated from the inside out with healthy diet and lifestyle choices and from the outside in with proper hygiene and an appropriate skin care regimen.
Here are 10 things you can do at home to reduce and clear up existing acne, and prevent future breakouts.
- Follow a proper acne-focused skin care regimen. I have discussed the importance of using the correct skin care regimen at home on numerous occasions. You need to cleanse, tone, and use an acne treatment product and a lightweight moisturizer twice a day. All products should be water based, non-irritant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and contain ingredients that help hydrate, exfoliate, soothe. You can also do a clay mask once a week to help absorb excess oil and dry up breakouts.
- Try dietary changes. Many skin care professionals consider poor nutrition as being responsible for skin disorders such as acne. Eating foods that contain the wrong kinds of fats, too much sugar, gluten, and yeast can cause or worsen acne. Processed foods full of artificial sweeteners, fillers, binders, colors, and preservatives are also a problem. Dairy is also a prime culprit in causing and worsening acne conditions. Try reducing or eliminating some of these foods from your diet, and replace them with real, whole foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Drink enough water. Water helps the skin stay hydrated, which prevents overproduction of the oil glands, helps maintain the skin’s natural barrier layer which protects the body from invaders, and helps the skin naturally slough off dead skin cells. This prevents them from (along with excess oil and debris) accumulating in the pores and causing breakouts.
- Don’t pick at existing acne. I know it is tempting, but picking at blackheads and whiteheads will cause the bacteria to spread, which will just cause more acne. It can also damage the underlying tissue, and open up the skin, which can lead to infection and permanent scarring. Leave this to the professionals. Aestheticians use several techniques to prep the skin for extractions, and also know how to do them safely and effectively.
- Get regular acne facials. The purpose of the acne facial is to deeply cleanse the pores, soothe irritation, and dry up existing acne. This is achieved by means of ozone-infused steam, use of enzymes and gentle alpha- or beta hydroxy acids, some forms of electrotherapy (to loosen up, soften, and help remove debris, oil, and dead skin cells), manual extractions, and masks. A proper home care regimen will be prescribed, which you should follow religiously.
- Avoid products with irritant ingredients. Acne is an inflamed, bacterial infection. You do not want to put products that contain irritant, allergenic, or toxic ingredients onto already irritated skin. It will never heal, and could become permanently scarred.
- Reduce stress. Stress wreaks havoc on the entire immune system. Your skin is a huge part of that immune system. If it is weakened, infections (like acne) are more likely to occur.
Take probiotics. Probiotics are healthy flora and bacteria that naturally exist in the body, and help the body perform its functions. Consuming foods that contain too much sugar or yeast kill these healthy bacteria. Antibiotics and other medications also kill these beneficial micro-organisms. Probiotics are found in naturally fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, raw sauerkraut, and sourdough bread as examples; or you can take probiotic supplements. Taking a combination of lactobacillus acidophilus, and bifidus helps strengthen the body’s immune system and prevent infection. I recommend Body Ecology’s liquid probiotics or Digestive Care Multi packs which contain a great probiotic for on-the-go.
- Change pillowcases often. This may seem like common sense, but many people do not change their pillow cases often enough. If you have acne, you should change them every day or two.
- Stop touching your face. Again, common sense, but I see people who have acne on their jawline, chin, and forehead who constantly hold their heads up, and then wonder why they have acne just on those areas. Think about it. Next time you catch yourself holding up your head, slap yourself on the wrist or something.
Did you find these tips helpful?
You can find even more great holistic ways to improve your skin in my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself: Achieve Beauty, Health, and Vitality from the Inside Out and Outside In, available HERE.
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