Spot the problem?

By Jo Finzi

Now is the season of parties, so you really don’t want to get spots. The dreaded acne is one of the worst offenders, but it doesn’t just affect teenagers. It strikes about 85% of people at some point and can be a menace during your 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond. pictureIt occurs when the sebaceous glands produce too much oil or sebum. With the build-up of dead cells, it blocks pores and leads to blackheads and whiteheads. The bacteria called propionibacteri, which we all have on our skin, multiply and feed from the sebum. These nasty little chaps then secrete substances that trigger an inflammatory response in our skin.

If someone is sensitive to sex hormones, or androgens, this may cause the skin to produce too much sebum and cause a flare up. This is why many women find that acne flares up around their period. Other known causes are polycystic ovary syndrome and stress.

To what’s the remedy? Too much washing can actually result in increased sebum production and make acne worse. But over the counter treatments containing benzoyl peroxide help destroy the acne producing bacteria and creams containing vitamin A (such as retin A) encourage the outer skin layers to shed and prevent those blocked pores.

For severe cases, it may be worth going to your doctor for a course of antibiotics, and the contraceptive pill can regulate hormones and help with hormone related outbreaks.

The right diet can also help. “Dairy, wheat, citrus fruits, tomatoes and peanuts are all triggers so it’s best to avoid them” recommends Graeme Miller from the Alternative Centre. “Also ensure your diet is rich in oily fish, fruits and vegetables as these contain nutrients that encourage skin healing.

A natural way to correct a hormonal imbalance is by eating foods with phytoestrogens, such as soya, berries, pulses, vegetables, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and rye.

Sea salts are also a good natural method of cleanse the skin and encourage healing.

So watch your diet, find the right product for your problem and those spots will be a thing of the past. 

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