Acne is a common and chronic skin disease. It is an inflammatory condition of the sebaceous glands and hair follicles. The lesions are usually found on the skin of the face, neck, chest, and shoulders. Nearly six out of ten young people between the ages of twelve and twenty-four suffer from some degree of acne. The disease causes a great deal of embarrassment at an age when people tend to be sensitive about their personal appearance.
Causes and Symptoms
Acne is characterised by the presence of comedones or blackheads, pimples, small superficial sebaceous cysts, and scars. There are over half a dozen forms of acne, the most common being blackheads. The areas chiefly affected are the forehead, temples, cheeks, chin, chest, and back. In rare cases, almost the entire body may be covered with blackheads accompanied by extensive scarring.
All forms of acne have their origin in wrong eating habits, such as irregular hours of eating, excessive consumption of starch, sugar, fried and fatty foods. Chronic constipation is another cause of acne. If the bowels do not move properly, the waste matter is not eliminated as quickly as it should be and the bloodstream becomes surcharged with toxic matter. The extra efforts of the skin to eliminate excess waste result in acne and other forms of skin diseases. Other causes of this disorder are a devitalised condition of the skin resulting from unhygienic living habits, excessive use of tea, coffee, alcohol, or tobacco, and sedentary habits which lead to indigestion and general debility.
Vitamins: Two vitamins, namely, niacin and vitamin A have been used successfully to treat acne. Vitamin therapy should comprise the intake of 100 mg niacin, three times daily, and 50,000 international units of vitamin A, three times daily. Vitamin E, 400 mg, should be taken once daily. This therapy should be continued tor a month.
Zinc: Another effective remedy in the area 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. Zinc is available in tablet and in capsule form. One-fourth of the powder inside the capsule can be taken as a single dose. The patient can take a dose of 50 mg daily upto one month or till there is noticeable improvement and then reduce the dose to 25 mg.
Orange Peel: Orange peel has been found very effective in the local treatment of acne. Pounded well with water on a piece of stone, the peel should be applied to the affected areas.
Lemon: Lemon has also proved beneficial in reducing pimples and acne. Its juice should be applied regularly to obtain relief.
Garlic: Garlic has been used successfully in the treatment of acne. Pimples disappear without scars when rubbed with raw garlic several times a day. Even extremely persistent forms of acne, suffered by some adults, have been healed with this herb. The external use of garlic helps to clear 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.
Coriander and Mint Juice: A teaspoon of coriander juice, mixed with a pinch of turmeric powder, is another effective home remedy for pimples and blackheads. The mixture should be applied to the face after thoroughly washing it every night before retiring. Mint juice can be used in a similar manner as coriander juice.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek is another useful remedy for acne. A paste made of the leaves of this vegetable, applied over the face every night before going to bed and washed with warm water in the morning, prevents pimples and blackheads.
Cucumber: Grated cucumber applied over the face, eyes, and neck for fifteen to twenty minutes has been found effective. It is the best tonic for the skin of the face. Its regular use prevents pimples and blackheads.
To begin with, the patient should take only an ‘all-fruit’ diet for a week, taking three meals a day, of fresh juicy fruits, such as apples, pears, grapes, grapefruit, pineapples, and peaches. Only unsweetened lemon or plain water, either hot or cold, should be drunk and nothing else. After the one-week, all-fruit diet, the patient can gradually adopt a well-balanced diet with emphasis on raw foods, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, sprouted seeds, raw nuts, and wholegrain cereals, particularly millet and brown rice. Further short periods of the ‘all-fruit’ diet for three days or so may be necessary at a monthly interval till the skin’s condition improves. Meats, sugar, strong tea or coffee, condiments, pickles, soft drinks, candies, ice cream, refined and processed foods should be avoided as far as possible.
During the initial one week ‘all-fruit’ diet, a warm-water enema should be taken daily to cleanse the bowels.
Hot fomentation should be applied locally to open up the pores and to bring out the waste matter. The affected parts should then be rinsed with cold water. The patient should take sun and air baths by exposing the whole body to the sun and air. A hot Epsom salts bath twice a week is beneficial in all cases of acne. This bath is prepared by adding 0,5 kg of Epsom salts to 60 litres of water having a temperature of about 37.8″ C. The patient should remain in the bath tub for 25—35 minutes till he sweats freely. After the bath, the patient should cool off gradually.