I have noticed in practice that there is still a resistance to properly treating acne. If it is a young person’s acne then I have often found that usually one of the parents look at this process as a normal part of childhood that will in some way build character. So lets have a look at acne and see if this attitude about acne makes sense. At different ages our hormones change. This happens throughout life. One key difference in teenage acne is that the level of testosterone increase in boys and girls. This leads to a slight change in the oils released by the skin. This slight change in skin oils make it much easier for bacteria to grow. Acne is created when bacteria grows in these oil glands which then become inflamed, infected and require that the body recruit more white blood cells. This infected oil gland with bacteria and white blood cells the the typical pimple that creates acne. The deeper in the skin this processes happens the more likely that the underling support system of the skin will be damaged and create an uneven surface that leads to acne scarring. Even if the surface is physically smooth, there can be temporary, long term, or permanent discoloration. At its core, acne represents a failed immune response. Bacteria should never be able to grow on the skin to such an extent that it invades oil glands. Additionally the most destructive parts of the immune response should not be required to heal a superficial infection taking place on the skin. This is key to remember, acne shows you that the immune system is not working properly. Acne should no more be considered a normal part of childhood then chronic diarrhea. I would no more leave acne untreated than I would recommend leaving a child with pneumonia untreated. The presence of a weak immune system has never been shown to my knowledge to build character. I would be more likely to make the alternate argument. What I have seen in my practice is that healthy people are just as likely to be kind, considerate and a pleasure to be around. The reports that I get consistently is that when people go from feeling sick to feeling healthy that they enjoy their life more and that others enjoy them more. Healthy people are more likely to enjoy what they are doing, and to enjoy the people that they are with more. I have never met anyone that asked me to make them sick again because they were more insightful or appreciative when they were sick. The people around the sick people that I work with have also never asked for their loved one to be made sick aging for the isights to be gained from the state of sickness. Because I spent a lot of my life sick, I don’t have much patience for these vague arguments. In my opinion the only acceptable level of acne at any age is none. In the same way that the only acceptable level of lung or digestive infection is none. The first outbreak in a child or adult should be a sign that something is out of balance in the immune system. Luckily this condition is very motivating to people that have an aesthetic consciousness and want to have beautiful skin. In case you are struggling with this, let me tell you the pieces that have to be in place to have beautiful skin. Most importantly you must find out which foods you have allergies to. There are three food allergy systems that the body has. There is the short term allergy, this is also called an IgE allergy and is tested for by your medical doctor with a blood draw. Then there is the medium food allergy which takes place over a week, this is also known as an IgA allergy. Then there is the allergy that takes place over a month, this is also know as the IgG allergy. To my knowledge the medium and long term allergies are best tested through a finger stick and lab analysis. We have done many of these tests. These allergens are important because when you eat your food allergens then two things happen. You will get immune system suppression as the immunes system goes off in the wrong direction to fight the allergen. Remember an allergy is when your body treats a harmless protein as if it were a bacteria. The other thing that happens when you eat your allergens is that the body becomes inflammatory. Remember that acne created by both inflammation and immune system suppression. Inflammation open the tight shield that protects our skin from bacteria. The next thing to do to have beautiful skin is to eat according to your blood type. Each blood type has a different reason for acne. Blood type O is most likely to have an allergic acne, blood type B is most likely to have hormonal acne, blood type A is likely to have stress induced acne and blood type AB is most likely to have acne due to bacteria. Bacteria likes to try and hide from our system by looking like us. Blood type AB gives the body a couple of different disguises that is can use to sneak by the immune system. The most important food that blood type O can avoid is wheat, for blood type B the worst food is chicken, for blood type A the worst foods are tomatoes and beef, and for blood type AB the worst food to eat is corn. There are a few more foods that are foods to avoid and some other foods that are very beneficial for each group. I will close the food group discussion by making it very clear that unless the person with acne eliminates their food allergens and decreases the foods that are not good for their blood type then no other approach will be successful. One piece of additional information you should have is if you or the person with acne is what we call immune minus or immune plus. Fifteen percent of people are immune minus and this is a very important piece of information to have about a person. If they are immune minus this means that they do not have a screen in their sweat to filter bacteria. These patients can get a very severe form of bacterial infection acne, this is something that should be known about your child in advance. Secretor status is tested through a saliva sample. Keep in mind at this point that in working with a case in the office we would have four different approaches depending on the blood type. There are a few things we can count on to improve a case. Homeopathic Cell Salts, specifically the cell salt called calcium phosphate. The use of this salt is based on the theory that the body is composed of 12 basic salts and that balancing these levels enhances immune function. We know that this approach is at minimum free from side effects. The next step is to try and get the body to pay better attention to the bacteria that is creating the problem. This is done in natural medicine by giving the body a very, very small part of the bacterial to wake up the immune system. This is another approach that is so gentle that it is free from side effects. The next step is to use herbs that have an antibacterial effect. We always want to use herbs first because the ingredients in herbs are recognized by the body. Within reason the worst experience of taking to much of an herb or the wrong herb for the condition are not feeling well. This is different then pharmaceutical drugs, which can build up to toxic levels without the patient feeling worse. I always like to have the body in a state where it can tell me if something is out of balance. The main thing to remember about skin is there there are basically three things that can go wrong. There can be a bacterial issue (impetigo is an example), and problem with a fungus (athletes foot is an example) or the problem can be inflammatory (eczema is an example). It is the heightened inflammatory state that is most of the problem in acne. Skin that is hyper inflammatory and hyper reactive will be most likely to develop acne. Inflammation makes the skin more open and vulnerable to the bacteria that create acne. Not only that but hyper inflammatory skin looks less healthy in general. Looking at the whole person in general helps you understand how to help with acne. Some other forms of traditional medicines from cultures like China and India look at person in term of hot and cold. A hot person will obviously be sensitive to the heat, worse in summer, and more prone to inflammatory acne. Their acne may be more superficial, and noticeable. Obviously a person suffering from a cold condition would be the opposite, worse in the cold months. Their acne may be deeper. It would make sense that people with undiagnosed thyroid problems often have this kind of acne, since the thyroid is our thermostat and responsible for our core body temperature. Herbs can also help body heating or cooling using traditional medicines. If up to this point you have not seen a noticeable improvement in the acne it is time for stronger medicines. The first step is antibiotics both topical and oral forms. A common antibiotic prescribed for acne is minocycline. The problem with any of the antibiotic approaches is that antibiotics have a lot of side effects. Antibiotics work by interfering with the ways that bacteria reproduce. The problem is that our own cells reproduce in many of the same ways that bacteria do. So any drug that interferes with bacteria can cause problems with your own cells. This is why antibiotics must be used after other options have been explored. Antibiotics should be the last line of defense, not because modern medicine is bad but because the chances of side effects are so high. The main side effects with the antibiotics like minocycline that are in tetracycline family are digestive effects that are common with all antibiotics and tooth staining which is most common in childhood but can occur in adults. If the natural steps above do not solve the acne problem your medical doctor can decide with you the best course of oral and topical antibiotics. The ultimate last steps should be the retinol medicines, these were recently shown to have a high incidence of side effect like colitis and Crohn’s disease. The important thing to know is the the antibiotics will work much better at a much lower dose if you are following the first steps I listed. The great thing about eliminating allergens, and then eating foods most compatible with your blood type, or making any of the other changes that will help, is that it makes you healthier overall. Mentally, emotionally and physically these changes will make sure that you are not getting in your own way by eating something that is toxic for you. Ideally at one of these simpler steps along the way you will see dramatic results.