Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat Acne

Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat Acne: Outline

Resources: ‘The Holistic Pediatrician’ by Dr Kathi J Kemper
Pediatrics in Review Volume 34, No2, p 91-93, February 2013
‘Milk Consumption and Acne in Teenaged boys’ J Am Acad Dermatol, Vol 58, No 5, p 787-793

What is acne?
Acne Vulgaris affects 70-80% of adolescents.
It is a condition involving the oil glands and hair follicles of the skin.
There is increased sebum production during puberty.
Pores around hair follicles get blocked by inflammation.
The hair follicle unit gets colonized with a bacteria called Propionibacterium acnes. These bacteria thrive and influence the inflammation and infection process.

What diet and lifestyle factors affect acne?

  1. Hygiene- There is no evidence that washing the face often prevents acne. Vigorous scrubbing may even remove healthy oils. It is best to wash face 2x/day with a gentle cleanser.

  2. Stress- Two studies showed that acne severity increased during the stress of exams for high school and college students even when diet and sleep were taken into account.

  3. Dietary effects on acne have been debated for a long time. There is growing evidence that diet may be a factor and in particular, diets high in dairy and those with a high glycemic load (foods that make the blood sugar go up rapidly). Dairy may contain hormones that stimulate acne.

Are there supplements or botanical products that help acne?

  1. Omega 3 fatty acids are a group of fatty acids that are found in foods such as oily fish, flax seeds, and walnuts and are known to decrease inflammation in the body. This has not been studied in relationship to acne, but is sensible to add to the diet of a child with acne.

  2. Zinc plays a role in maintaining health of many systems including the immune system and skin.

  3. Tea tree oil is made from the leaves of an Australian tree and has been shown to improve acne because of anti-bacterial properties. 5% tea tree oil (topically) has been shown to be effective for treating acne.

  4. Several studies have shown acupuncture to be helpful for treating acne.


  1. Wash affected areas two times a day with a gentle cleanser

  2. Relaxation techniques such as biofeedback, mindfulness, guided imagery or music.

  3.  Diet rich in plants, low in dairy, rich in omega 3 fatty acids and with a low glycemic load

  4.  Sleep 8-9 hours per night

  1.  Omega 3 fatty acids: 1-3 grams of EPA + DHA per day. Choose high quality supplements that have tested for heavy metals.

  2.  Zinc gluconate: 9-13 yo - 20 mg/day, >13 yo - 30 mg/day

  3.  Tea tree oil 5% applied to skin 1-2 times per day

Dr. Cheri Standing

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