Acne is perhaps the most common chronic skin disease. It is an inflammatory condition of the sebaceous glands and hair follices usually found on the face, the neck, chest and shoulders. Nearly eight out of ten young people between the ages of 12 and 24 suffer from some degree of acne. It is closely related to the disturbance in the hormones experienced at puberty. The disease causes a great deal of embarrassment at an age when people tend to be sensitive about personal appearance.
Symptoms of acne
Acne is characterised by the presence of black-heads, pimples, small superficial sebaceous cysts and scars. There are over half a dozen forms of acne. All of them are concerned with sebaceous glands or the glands connected with hair follicles. The most common form of acne is blackheads. The areas chiefly affected are the forehead, temples, cheeks and chin, the chest and back. In rare cases, almost the entire body may be covered with blackheads with extensive scarring.
Causes of acne
All forms of acne have their origin in wrong feeding habits, such as irregular hours of eating, improper food, excesses of starches and sugar, excess of fatty foods. Chronic constipation is another main cause of acne. If the bowels do not move properly, waste matter is not eliminated as quickly as it should be and the blood stream become surcharged with toxic matter. The extra efforts of the skin to eliminate excess waste results and in acne and other forms of skin disease. Yet another important cause of acne is a devitalised condition of the skin resulting from unhygienic living habits. Other causes of the disorder are excessive use of tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco, strenuous studies, masturbation and sedentary habits which leads to indigestion and general debility.
Diet plays an important role in the treatment of Acne.
The treatment of acne by the administration of salve or ointment does not serve any purpose. They only suppress the action of the sebaceous glands temporarily. In nature cure, the main emphasis is on the patient should resort to an all-fruit diet for about a week. He should take three meals a day of fresh juicy fruits, such as apple, pear, grapes, grapefruit, pineapple and peach. Citrus fruits, bananas, dried, stewed or tinned fruits should not be taken. Unsweetened lemon or plain water, either hot or cold, should be drunk and nothing else. During this period, warm-water enema should be taken daily to cleanse the bowels and all other measures adopted to eradicate constipation.
After a week on all fruit diet, the patient can gradually adopt a well-balanced diet. Emphasis should be on raw foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, raw nuts and whole grain cereals, especially millet and brown rice. Further short periods on the all- fruit diet for three days or so may be necessary at a monthly interval till the skin condition improves.
Strict attention to diet is essential for recovery. Starchy, protein and fatty foods should be restricted. Meats, sugar, tea or coffee, condiments, pickles, refined and processed foods should all be avoided, as also soft drinks, candies, ice cream and products made with sugar and white flour.
Two vitamin namely, niacin and vitamin A have been used successfully to treat acne. The vitamin thereby, which may comprise niacin 100 mg. three times daily, and vitamin A in large doses upto 1,50,000 units per day, should not exceed one month, Vitamin E is also vitally important to prevent scarring from acne and in removing old scars.
Another effective remedy in the realm of nutrition that seems to offer new promise of help for acne is zinc. It has shown dramatic results in some cases. Zinc should be taken in therapeutic doses of 50 mg. three times a day. After noticeable improvement, it can be gradually reduced.
Local Acne Treatment
As regards local treatment, hot fomentation should be applied to open up the pores and squeeze out the waste matter. Then rinse with cold water. Sun and the air baths by exposing the whole body to sun and air are highly beneficial. The healing packs made of grated cucumber, oatmeal cooked in milk, and cooked creamed carrots used externally, have been found to be effective.
The orange peel is valuable in the treatment of acne. The peel pounded well with water on a piece of stone should be applied to the affected areas. The lemon has also proved beneficial in removing pimples. It should be applied regularly!
The juice of raw potatoes has also proved valuable in clearing skin blemishes. This cleansing results from high content of potassium, sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine in the potato. These elements are, however, of value only when the potato is raw as in this state they are composed of live organic atoms.
Garlic is also been used successfully in the acne treatment. Rub raw garlic several times a day to disappear pimples without scars. Even extremely persistent forms of acne, have been healed with garlic. The external use of garlic helps in clearing the skin of spots, pimples and boils. The process is further helped by eating three pods of raw garlic once daily for a month to purify the blood stream, so as to secure a long-term clearance of the skin.