Remedy – Question: I’m in my mid-thirties, and I’m still having occasional breakouts! Is there anything I can do to help my skin clear up?

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Amy McDonald

Adult acne is very common so do not stress more about it, that can potentially make it worse. The best thing to do is stay positive and take action immediately by finding a reputable day spa in your area with highly qualified estheticians. Schedule a weekly deep cleansing facial until your condition improves. There are many origins of adult acne – diet, stress, hormone imbalance, dehydration – and some people are genetically predisposed. Cleaning out the surface bacteria with weekly facials will help avoid scarring and/or the stretching of the pores. A qualified esthetician can make suggestions not only about your skin but also about any other contributing factors and, if necessary, recommend a nutritionist or dermatologist.

Amy McDonald is the Spa and Programs Director at EL Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa in Taos, New Mexico. Amy has been in the spa industry for twenty years and is an industry expert in integrating both spa and educational programs into transformational experiences for guests.

Elizabeth Somer, M.A.,R. D.

For healthy and blemish-free skin, focus on colorful vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low-fat milk or soymilk, legumes, nuts, fish, and extra-lean meats. Avoid or limit processed foods that are high in calories, fat, and sugar and low in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Combine this eating plan with daily and thorough cleansing of the skin, regular exercise, effective stress management, and moderate exposure to sunshine.

Vitamin A is helpful, but it’s the synthetic analogue of this vitamin, called retinoic acid, obtained only by prescription that is most effective [in combating breakouts], not the vitamin A in supplements or foods. The trace mineral, zinc, aids in normal functioning of the sebaceous glands (the skin’s oil-producing glands), and limited evidence suggests that moderate amounts of either zinc-rich foods (i.e., seafood, whole grains, legumes) or a multiple vitamin that contains zinc might be useful for skin problems. Make sure the supplement does not exceed 10mg for young children, 15mg for teenagers, and 25mg for adults, since excessive intake of zinc can interfere with the absorption of other minerals.

In contrast, poor nutrition affects the body’s immune system and increases the possibility of developing a number of health conditions, including skin problems. Allergies to certain foods also can cause skin conditions other than acne, such as eczema. Although chocolate, soft drinks, sugar, greasy foods, nuts, milk, salt, and even iodine have been blamed for acne or even minor blemishes, none of these foods have been shown in well-designed studies to aggravate or cause skin problems.

Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D., is author of several books, including Food & Mood (Owl Books, 1999) and Nutrition for Women (Owl Books, 2003).

Nancy Welliver

One thing that I’ve learned in my years in practice is that there is rarely just one cause of any condition, particularly a chronic condition. Adult acne is no different. The absolute cause of adult acne hasn’t been elucidated by the scientific community. However, research suggests that it may be related to blood sugar balance, as well as estrogen, testosterone, and stress hormones. In naturopathic medicine we also look at the role of the liver, the excretory organs (bowels, kidneys, and sweat glands), and system irritants. The primary irritants I see in my practice are dairy products, and I ask people to eliminate them from their diet. Clinically, I find that making that single change can help most people most of the time. Making sure that you have adequate protein and zinc levels is important, as well. Topical herbal rinses using rosemary, lavender, or chamomile tea can also work well to decrease the inflammation directly on the skin.

Dr. Nancy Welliver has been a practicing naturopathic physician for the last eleven years and is currently a faculty member at Bastyr University.
Healing Lifestyles & Spas Team
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