One of the teenagers walked into the lecture hall with a big smile and a face full of acne. Seeing him took me right down memory lane. I remembered those days of annoying spots on my face. All the adults around me told me that it’s just a ‘phase’ and that it will clear ‘in no time’ but at the time, it felt like an eternity.
When you have acne, it can take over your life. As a teenager, the spots on my face had the power to mess up my day. Looking into the mirror would sometimes get my self-esteem crashing in a matter of seconds. “If only I had clear skin, I would be so much happier, and popular, and confident” I used to think.
I tried to ask around to find out if diet can help, but I got fragmented answers. Some said oily food, some said chocolate, but most people had no idea what to advise me. Most of them said that acne is part of the package of teenage years; like tax.
So I stuck it out.. until I couldn’t handle it anymore. I wanted to medicate the problem. I was willing to take anything, no matter what the consequences.
So the doctor gave me antibiotics; a specific type called tetracycline. I was told to take it for a YEAR. Apparently, acne is caused by specific bacteria somewhere in the body and we had to get rid of it. “Any side effects I should worry about?”, I asked, not really caring what the answer was. “None to worry about”, was the answer.
I got really excited to finally find a solution. I took the pills religiously every single morning for a year and my face started to clear. Finally, at the age of 17 (a year later) I was happy again.
And then I ran out of pills.
I woke up one morning and found a spot on my face. And then another… and in a few months, I was back where I started! I needed more pills!
By that time, I had my license so I drove myself to the pharmacy and bought some more antibiotics (no, they were not regulated). “I had to do it,” I thought “It was working well for me.”
And so my life continued. Antibiotics here and there. Then more powerful stuff prescribed by doctors in college in the US. But the acne continued to come and go. And not at any point did anyone stop me to tell me that it might be related to my diet. In fact, several doctors even told me that my acne had nothing to do with what I was eating.
If what we eat has nothing to do with our skin, then how is it that we swallow and digest a pill for skin problems?
Now, many years later, I’m still suffering the consequences of those heavy medications that I took for a simple acne problem. Antibiotics are heavy-duty drugs and I feel that people and even some doctors use them too casually. Antibiotics can cause havoc in the digestive system because they affect the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.
As a result, your immunity could go down, and you could be more susceptible to digestive problems such as IBS and Crohn’s disease. Furthermore, they can allow yeasts to flourish, making you more likely to have thrush and cystitis and a host of other symptoms. And did I mention tetracycline can cause permanent discolouration of the teeth? Wouldn’t you think that’s worse than acne?
Many years later, I was able to help my own skin naturally with nutrition; something I wish someone had taught me much earlier.
More recently, a mother asked me if I knew anything about teenage acne and whether I could help her son. Do I know anything? Where do I start?!
If you have a teenager who is suffering from acne (or if you are that teenager), I will tell you what I wish I knew at the time.
First of all, the effect of acne on self-esteem is not be taken lightly. Any skin issue should be discussed seriously and addressed accordingly if it is causing any distress.
The skin is often called the second liver. It eliminates unwanted stuff from the body. If you’re feeding your body junk food and toxins, it will have to come out somewhere, and it will show on your skin. So, cleaning the diet is the first step.
Get rid of all junk food, fried foods, and sweets. These all clog up the body and skin pores. In fact, acne is often called ‘diabetes of the skin’ because it so readily reacts to sugar in the diet.
Also get rid of hormone-filled foods that are upsetting your own hormone balance and causing havoc in the process. Most hormones come from animal-based foods such as dairy products and meat. Bananas can cause problems sometimes too especially in people who react to dairy products.
Get rid of toxins that might be burdening the liver, such as caffeine, smoking, pollution, and possibly hidden toxins such as mercury fillings.
Make sure to keep your body hydrated. Nothing triggers acne faster than dryness. Have lots of water and, even better, a daily fruit/vegetable smoothie first thing in the morning. Add all the green leaves you can get your hands on, and sweeten it with apples or pineapple.
Also, make sure the skin is hydrated from the outside. Use natural vitamin E creams and/or organic sesame oil on the skin. You can also use Aloe Vera gel externally to tackle any current spots.
Avoid constipation like the plague. When you’re constipated, you’re much more likely to excrete through your skin and develop spots. Stay regular with lots of water and fibre from fruits and vegetables and wholegrains.
Get lots of exercise to enhance circulation. And most importantly, get some sun! Your skin will love the effect of the sun and vitamin D; the best sun times are early morning or late afternoons. You’ll need 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your skin tone. The darker you are the more sun you’ll need.
For more ideas or to book a seminar, contact me through my website www.AliaAlmoayed.com