Acne Treatment: Information for
New Jersey Patients
What is acne?
The most common disease of the skin, in NJ or in any other part of the US, is acne vulgaris, or as most people say, just "acne". Although not confined to any age group, it is most common and most troublesome in adolescents. Almost 85% of the population get the disease at some point during their teen and early adult years. Mild acne develops in up to 20% of women. It sometimes occurs in newborn babies.
The main problem lies in the sebaceous glands, which are just under the skin surface and produce the natural oil called sebum that moisturizes skin and hair, keeping them flexible and soft. The glands are part of the hair follicles, also called sebaceous follicles; their openings onto the skin surface let the sebum exit onto the hair shaft and skin.
Under certain circumstances, excess sebum is secreted and can't clear quickly enough from pores, as when puberty brings on a rush of androgen hormones that jack up the sebum production levels. Also, the cells that line the follicles can shed too fast and form clumps that combine with the extra sebum. A plug may form called a comedo (plural comedones) blocking the pore opening, which normally is invisible. However, when it swells to a small whitish bump just under the surface it's commonly termed a whitehead. A blackhead is a comedo that has opened to the surface so the exposed top of the plug darkens.
When a common species of bacteria on the skin called propionibacterium acnes gets into a plugged follicle and multiplies, infection ensues; other common bacteria may also be involved. The inflammation is caused by bacterial chemicals and enzymes; when an infected whitehead or blackhead ruptures and releases bacteria, dead skin cells and sebum go into the tissues around the opening, a pimple appears. When just under the skin, inflamed pimples are known as papules. If they become pus-filled, they're called pustules.
The follicle can keep on filling with material rather than rupturing, instead forming a closed sac or lump under the skin, called a cyst. Hard, large swellings that remain deep in the skin layers are known as nodules. Pain and scarring may be caused by cysts and nodules.
Causes & symptoms
NJ alternative medicine specialists often advise that there is a relationship between acne and toxicity in the liver or intestinal tract. This internal toxicity can arise because of a low-fiber diet (unfortunately too prevalent among people living the urban and suburban lifestyles common in New Jersey), the presence of unfriendly bacteria like Clostridia species and Yersinia enterocolitica, a lack of beneficial gut flora like Lactobacillus species, overgrowth of Candida albicans in the intestines, and food allergies.
The way acne develops in any individual is the product of interactions between skin proteins, hormones, secretions, allergies, and bacteria. Quite a few additional factors are known:
- Age. Teenagers are the commonest acne sufferers
- Sex. Boys get acne worse than girls, overall, and get it more often.
- Hormone disorders in females can complicate acne
- Hereditary factors. Acne can run in families, increasing risk.
- Hormone fluctuations, such as those during menstruation, pregnancy, menopause.
- Diet. Some foods can prompt flare-ups in some people, or exacerbate their acne.
- Drugs. Some antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and anabolic steroids can cause acne.
- Personal hygeine practices. Abrasive soaps, rough scrubbing of the skin, and manipulating pimples can make acne worse.
- Oil based cosmetics and hair products can aggravate acne
- Environmental factors like greases and oils, air pollution (a considerable risk factor in New Jersey), and sweating brought on by hot humid weather can all make acne worse.
- Emotional stress can aggravate acne
- Friction on the skin from tight clothing, backpacks, bicycle helmets, etc.
Acne shows up most frequently where sebaceous glands are most numerous: face, shoulders, back, chest. Teens often get pimples around the forehead, nose and chin, while older sufferers are more likely to have them on the outer edges of the face. Adult females' pimples may often develop near the mouth or chin. Whiteheads and blackheads are commoner around upper cheeks and near the eyes in elderly people. At any age, inflamed pimples can cause painful reddened areas, tenderness, swelling or itching.
Diagnosis isn't difficult, since acne always shows its characteristic external appearance. NJ practitioners seeing an acne patient will probably take a full medical history that includes information about skin care, diet, medications, environmental and other factors that can affect the condition for better or worse, and any treatment that has already been undertaken.
The physical exam will take in face, neck, shoulders, chest, back and any other areas being affected. Using a good light source, the doctor can tell how many blemishes there are and their status – inflamed or not, their depth in the skin, and the presence or absence of scarring or skin discoloration. If hormonal or other medical problems are suspected, blood tests are performed. Stool testing can be helpful when determining whether bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the digestive tract may be contributing, and the doctor may advise testing for food allergies.
Alternative treatment recommendations from NJ practitioners
New Jersey practitioners of alternative medicine, or conventional doctors who embrace complementary medical methods, can recommend a number of non-drug treatments for acne. These can include proper skin cleaning techniques to keep the surface oil-free; improving the diet and doing intermittent fasts; identifying and correcting nutrition deficiencies; reducing inflammation; the use of an elimination regime in which the patient reduces or eliminates alcohol, smoking, caffeine, dairy products, sugars, and processed foods.
Another recommendation is the use of herbal blood cleansers or purifiers. Such preparations optimize liver and kidney function so that the system is "detoxed" and excretion is improved. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root tincture is one recommendation. There are others: burdock root or gobo (Arctium lappa), often available at NJ health food and Asian markets, and good raw or cooked in stir-fries, salads, etc.
Burdock can also be used in tincture form. A pleasant-tasting tea can be made from red clover (Trifolium pratense) and drunk several times per day. The seed of milk thistle (Silybium marianum) is another herb that can either be taken as a tincture or ground and mixed with granola, hot cereal, or other dishes.
Other possible recommendation can include supplements like essential fatty acids (EFAs), vitamin B complex, vitamin A (beta-carotene), zinc, and chromium.
As noted above, bowel toxicity is suspected by many New Jersey health practitioners to be implicated in acne, and should be addressed. A healthy balance of beneficial flora in the intestines should be promoted by taking Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus either in capsules or by eating yogurt with live cultures.
The herb goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) might be recommended to rid the intestnes of toxic bacteria. Foods causing allergic reaction should be eliminated. The level of fiber in the diet should be raised, by eating wheat and oat bran, fruits, legumes, vegetable with their skins, and psyllium seeds. All these fiber-rich foods absorb toxins in the intestines and propel them through to be excreted.
To speak further about alternative medicine treatments for acne contact Dr. Robert at 201.618.3534 or click this link to be taken to the contact page to fill out a form, so he may contact you.