The lesions of acne vulgaris (acne) come in many shapes and sizes, with various names: nodules, papules, pustules and comedones. Most people simply call them pimples. Cases range from mild to severe, and lesions can be restricted to areas of the face (commonly the jawline, chin, cheeks, forehead) or more widespread over the body, especially the chest and upper back areas.
The cause of acne is thought to be a subtle interplay between hormones, sebaceous (oil) glands on the skin, and bacteria (Propionbacterium acnes). While this may be the cause of acne, there are many factors that may predispose an individual to getting acne, developing new lesions, and whether or not these heal well. It is important to understand any underlying contributing factors, including the possible effects of dietary choices.
Naturopaths and holistic nutritionists have long discussed the idea that acne can be made worse by eating the ‘wrong’ foods for your body. While the most common culprits are undoubtedly dairy foods and sugar, they are by no means the only ones. As with any condition, each person is unique and has individual triggers.
Nutrient imbalances and deficiencies are a common contributing factor to not only the development of acne, but how it develops and also how it heals (or doesn’t). Essential fatty acids play a crucial role in reducing inflammation in the body but are also depleted in the walls of the skin follicles when acne lesions occur. Zinc is essential not only for hormonal balance but also skin and immune health, and zinc also supports tissue repair and healing. Antioxidant vitamins are also crucial, Vitamins A, C & E specifically, as well as selenium. Reduced organ function can also contribute to the development of acne, as can a buildup of toxicity.
Understanding your nutritional status can be a first step towards bringing the delicate eco-system of your skin back to balance.