How to Get Rid of Acne, Pimples, and Other Skin Problems

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Many people believe that pimples are for kids. But this is not true.

Millions of adults are experiencing acne for the first time. In fact, the average age of acne patients has now increased from 20 to 26 years old. (1) And acne rates are rising -- contradicting the belief that this condition is caused by genes.

Eight million people see the dermatologist every year for acne. Today we spend more than $1 billion a year on prescription acne treatments and millions more rely on over-the-counter products that total $100 million in sales every year.

But no medication or over-the counter remedy treats the causes of acne -- they just cover up the symptoms.

The key to healthy skin isn't just treating symptoms with lotions or drugs. You have to treat the underlying causes of the
condition if you want to solve your acne problem. And no matter what health problem you face, the root causes can be traced back to the same underlying factors, because the body-including your skin-is one whole integrated system. The real causes of acne (and all disease) include nutritional status, stress, toxicity, inflammation, and hormonal and gut imbalances.

There's a better way to treat acne, and today I'm going to show you how to get clear, vibrant skin, without drugs.

Good Skin Comes from the Inside Out

Before I explain the connections between what you eat, how you live, and the health of your skin, I want to tell you about my own experience with acne.

I never had it-until I got chronic fatigue syndrome.

This is a disease of toxicity, gut damage, inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and stress, among other things. The trigger that tipped me over the edge was a severe intestinal infection on top of mercury toxicity and a load of stress. When I got the infection, my skin changed right away.

It turned gray and I developed dark circles under my eyes. I got pimples all over my face (at age 36) and rashes around my eyes whenever I ate certain foods. And I developed itchy red patches on different parts of my body. All of these skin symptoms correlated with a worsening of my gut symptoms and the irritable bowel syndrome that I developed.

To heal this problem, I knew I couldn't resort to creams, gels, or lotions like benzoyl peroxide, retinoid acid, salicylic acid,
or topical antibiotics (all of which slightly help symptoms). I didn't need oral antibiotics (which can cause long-term gut
complications, immune problems, and yeast overgrowth) or Accutane (which can cause liver damage and increase the risk of depression and suicide), or oral contraceptives (which I may have been offered had I been a woman).

Instead, I needed to heal my gut, correct my food allergies and nutritional deficiencies, detoxify from mercury, reduce
inflammation, and rebalance my stress hormones. When I did that, my pimples vanished, my eyes cleared up, and my rashes went away (along with my chronic diarrhea, disabling fatigue, and more).

This is hardly a miracle. I have seen the same thing happen for thousands of my patients. The reason is simple: Clear skin comes from the inside out. You have to treat the causes of the condition and rebalance your health if you want to resolve your acne problem.

So here are the real causes of-and solutions for-acne. Address these areas and you can have clear, healthy skin once again.

Poor Diet

* Skin health and acne are tied strongly to diet.

* Acne is caused by inflammation and oxidative stress (two keys of UltraWellness).

* Sugar raises insulin levels, which promotes the production of testosterone in women, and inflammation in general, causing acne.

* Saturated and processed fats increase arachidonic acid levels and compete with omega-3 fats in the body, leading to more inflammation and acne.

* Milk and dairy consumption is closely linked with acne (and many other problems) because of the hormones and saturated fat in dairy.

* High-sugar milk chocolate can increase inflammation-and acne-but dark chocolate does the opposite.

Nutritional Deficiencies

* Deficiencies of zinc, omega-3 fats, and anti- inflammatory omega-6 fats like evening-primrose oil promote acne --
supplementing with them can help reduce inflammation and acne.

* A topical form of vitamin B3 (nicotinamide) reduces inflammation and improves acne.

* Acne patients have low levels of vitamins A and E, which are critical for skin health.

* People who eat more fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds have less acne.

* Certain foods have been linked to improvements in the underlying causes of acne and can help correct it, including fish
oil, turmeric, ginger, green tea, nuts, dark purple and red foods like berries, dark green leafy vegetables, and eggs.

Hormonal Imbalances

* Hormonal imbalances of testosterone, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth hormone), and insulin promote acne.

* The biggest factor affecting hormones is the glycemic loa1d of your diet (how quickly food increases your blood sugar and insulin levels).

* Eating omega-3 fats, soy foods, and fiber (to reduce testosterone in women) and exercising and cutting out sugar (to
reduce insulin) help balance hormones.

Leaky Gut and Food Allergies

* Delayed food allergies are a common cause of acne. Gluten, dairy, yeast, and eggs can be problems if you have a leaky gut.

* Probiotics like lactobacillus can improve acne.

* Even serious cystic acne can resolve when the gut is fixed.

Your Brain

* Stress causes acne flare-ups by increasing inflammation and oxidative stress, raising cortisol, and depleting zinc,
magnesium, and selenium, which help control acne.

* Stress causes poor dietary choices.

* Manage stress through meditation, yoga, saunas, massage, biofeedback, aromatherapy, and more.

Getting to the roots of illness using the strategies above and the 7 Keys to UltraWellness can help you uncover the source of your health problem, wherever you may find it -- even in a pimple on your nose!

Mark Hyman, MD


(1) Cunliffe, WJ and Gould DJ. 1979. Prevalence of facial acne vulgaris in late adolescence and adults. British Medical Journal. 1, 1109-1110

About the Author:

Mark Hyman, MD is a pioneer in functional medicine, practicing physician and best-selling author. Dr. Hyman is now sharing the 7 ways to tap into your body's natural ability to heal itself - See The UltraWellness Blog for more on acne, eczema, and other skin problems -
Copyright (c) 2009 Mark Hyman, M.D.

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