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Acne Cure Advice From A Nutritionist, Registered Dietitian And Licensed Esthetician

Posted Oct 22 2008 7:18am

Occasionally it’s nice to hear from the certified experts …I know a lot about the skin and acne but I don’t have a certificate or degree to prove it. My friend Carmina is a nutritionist / registered dietitian and a licensed esthetician and very kindly volunteered to write a guest article for High on Health on her experiences with her own battle with acne. Here is her story and her acne cure -


paper bag head Acne is a condition that is often considered as solely a skin problem. Unfortunately it is far more complex. It is also a condition that announces itself by it’s mere presence. Women may try to hide it with heavy make-up and men generally are just naked with it. In either case, acne can result in self-consciousness, decreased self-esteem, physical and emotional scarring.

I know, I’ve been there. As a teenager I had terrible acne - face, chest, back…I put out so much oil on a daily basis, I used to joke that you could fry an egg on my face. Just like others plagued with this condition, I tried everything that you could buy at that time to treat it. I would wipe straight alcohol across my face multiple times a day in a desperate attempt to strip off the oil and dry-up the zits - but I always smelled like a first aid kit and shone like a flashlight.

The treatments I underwent at the hands of dermatologists have had long-term effects on my health and included: really strong birth control pills (which left me with blinding migraines); facial X-Rays; long-term doses of antibiotics; massive exposure in UV lamps (skin cancer anyone?); the first generation of Accutane - and no…they didnʼt know about the liver damage it caused way back then. Then there were the painful extractions, the dry-ice treatments and finally it was after having my first baby that my skin began to “act normal”.

I wish I knew then what I know now.

As a nutritionist / registered dietitian and a licensed esthetician I have learned a great deal not just about how to deal with acne from a topical perspective - but how to manage it internally. I learned about underlying medical conditions that often exist and go undiagnosed that have acne as a SYMPTOM of the condition. In my case I had both Endometriosis and Hypothyroidism - a hormonal one - two punch! Some of the treatments worsened them (like x-rays to the thyroid gland). I learned that what you DONʼT put in your body can be as big a problem as what you put in.

family portrait So my number one recommendation for acne suffererʼs is to take a quick look at family history. If either your mother or father had acne - you have a 50/50 chance of inheriting the condition. If both parents had it, your likelihood of having it are very high if not inevitable. However, if neither of your parents had acne, or you developed it as an adult this raises suspicion that something else may be at work. Find a really good health practitioner to help get to the sources and bring any condition that is contributing to the acne, under control.

I should clarify before I go further, that there are many types of acne. Acne Vulgaris is the one most people are referring to when they are talking about acne. In a nutshell, it is an inflammatory process and a lipid (oil) abnormality. If hormone irregularity is involved, like in Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hypothyroidism or Endometriosis - it is essential to get the underlying condition under control and often the acne will resolve.

The biological processes that are a major contributor to acne are too complicated to go into here. The end result is that DHT (dihydrotestosterone) a product of testosterone is the enemy. It is the worldʼs best oil (sebum) producer. It targets follicles (pores) in certain areas of the body - face, chest, and back in particular but can also affect the neck. The oil clogs the pore, inflammation starts, it gets infected, it bursts or is manually extracted and the scarring starts.

What about the nutrition connection? Enjoy your chocolate - it is not the problem. What I see in many of my clients is that their diets are often lacking in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and heavy in sugar.

lollies Sugar is highly inflammatory in the body and inflammation is exactly what has to be battled. There are also critical vitamins that not only help quell inflammation, but help to balance out some of the hormonal problems. If you are missing adequate amounts of Vitamins A and C or the mineral Zinc - it will be very difficult to bring the acne under control. Just to name a few of the key nutrients involved in acne.

Incidentally, Accutane, Retin A, Rentinol are all derivatives of Vitamin A but in a “nuclear doses”! You can get plenty from food by eating in color: red, yellow and green! Low Zinc levels cause skin lesions among other problems and itʼs important in strengthening the immune system.

A recent Journal of the American Medical Association also found an association between milk consumption and acne. They didnʼt say exactly what that link was, but they did find that patients that removed milk from their diets had an improvement in their acne. Iʼm going to take an educated guess and say it is probably related to the high levels of hormones that cows are given to keep them giving milk. This is also true if you are eating cheese and other dairy products.

Here are my key recommendations for managing acne from the inside out:

  • Clean up your diet! Include 6 to 9 servings for multi-colored fruits and vegetables to get your daily vitamin A and C. About 2800 to 3000 mcg of Vitamin A are recommended.
  • Whole grains, nuts, poultry, lean red meats are all rich in zinc - 30 to 40 mg/ per day.
  • Choose organic dairy products and limit how much dairy you eat. Calcium supplements may be required.
  • Go easy on the sweets and sugar it adds fuel to the fire of inflammation.
  • Find time every day to de-stress - a calm mind creates a calm body which helps with acne control.
  • Find a trusted health care professional if you need help - donʼt struggle alone.
  • Donʼt allow acne to define you - you are a wonderful Being just as you are.

Carmina McGee, MS, RD, LE ( ) is a nutrition and skin care expert who provides an integrated approach to creating health and well-being. Her private practice is located in Ventura, California and she also consults with clients across the country by tele-consultation.

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