The FDA recently released June 25th that over the counter acne products containing benzoyl peroxide and salilycic acid may cause severe allergic reaction including anaphylaxis, hives, and itching ( 1). Although rare, but knowing this, people should try alternative therapies in alleviating acne symptoms early on if they can. I personally can attest to dealing with Acne most of my adult life, making this close to my heart.
1.Wash your face with a mild gentle cleanser twice a day.
It’s important to remove makeup, oils and excess dirt appropriately. It’s counter intuitive because when you have acne, you want to cover it up with makeup to hide it. Doing so adds more dirt and oil to your pores; in fact, worsening your acne. At the end of day using a gentle cleanser helps remove excess debride not a harsh exfoliating one. Also, keep your hands away from your face. We’re constantly touching our faces and using our phones introducing more bacteria to our face than we need.
2.Be Gentle with your Skin
Don’t over scrub, or use chemical peels plus over the counter acne products. Doing so can dry and irritate your skin causing redness and peeling to occur. A lot of times we think we can scrub away our acne and in turn are harsh with out skin. This just causes more scaring and problems in the long run, so remember to be kind to your skin.
3. Have realistic Expectations.
It can take acne many months for acne to clear up. As eager as we are to want our face cleared up yesterday, we need to be patient with the process. It takes months for acne to form, so remember It will take months for it to go away.
4.Try these alternative approaches
◦ Although there’s limited evidence, probiotics regulate cytokines with in the skin and in turn upregulate the IGF-1, both of which influence the formation of acne. When taking a probiotic remember to find a good quality one. Yogurt and Kefir can be added in conjunction but it’s best to get a probiotic that has more than 5 different strands of bacteria and >20 billion CFU. Starting 1 tab 3xday for a month and and then tapering to 1 tab day will alleviate symptoms.
Try going Gluten Free.
◦ For Some patients as simple as going Gluten Free improves their symptoms as gluten is very inflammatory. Also try avoiding foods with high glycemic index. Sometimes when people go gluten free they substitute with high glycemic foods making their acne worse. As our mothers used to say “eating sugar causes acne”, there is some truth to it. Low glycemic load foods reduce both occurrence and severity of acne (2).
◦ Diary has Androgenic activity and has a positive correlation with acne. A Reduction in diary improves acne significantly (2). A simple milk substitute with Almond milk with make a big difference and improvement. I personally know when I’m eating more dairy than I should, my face always lets me know!
Add Supplements, Omega 3 and Turmeric
◦ Any targeted Anti-inflammatory agent will improve acne over time. That’s why, Omega 3 &6 fatty acid works. It’s anti-inflammatory properties has been associated with improvement of acne. Eating foods rich in sea food, salmon, tuna, and walnuts are all good way to incorporate this in your diet (2). Also incorporating Tumeric (Curcumin) in foods as well as an oral supplement at least 3-4 grams a day will improve inflammation and reduce acne. Another alternative is to make a Tumeric mask made of ½ tsp turmeric, 1 tbsp yogurt, ½ tsp fresh lemon and mix it with 1 tbsp Channa powder. Making this mask is not only refreshing but help calm down acne and helps improve scarring. You can do this comfortably 2-3x/week. Another thing you can try is apple cider vinegar. Wash your face and dab organic apple cider vinegar on your zits, let is dry and then seal with a soothing spf,oil free moisturizer.
5. Talk to an Ayurvedic Practitioner
A lot of times, acne is manifested in people who have the fire constitution known as pitta. So warm weather, spicy foods being pitta constitution all aggravate acne. Try to eat cooling foods like cucumber and lots of vegetables and avoid sun if possible. If you’re outside, do wear a hat but remember to wash it regularly as bacteria builds up and can worsen acne.
6. Talk to your Primary Care Physician
When all else fails, talk to your primary care provider about over the counter products that may work for you, as well as prescription agents, oral antibiotics and birth control pills. Every patient is unique and different and every individual is treated differently. Other therapies include topical steroid injections, lasers and chemical peels. Technology is advancing and improving and LED laser lights also improve acne. Talk to your dermatologists for more information as well.
1. Preidt, Robert. “Some Acne Products Can Trigger Severe Allergic Reactions: FDA.” Consumer HealthDay. Health Day, 25 June 2014. Web. 27 June 2014.
2. Nguyen, Tam. MD, Acne Improvement: Easy Ways to improve your care. The Journal of Family Practice/ Feb 2013.Vol 62, No2