Remedies For

Adult Acne Treatment

For most women, hormonal changes, either around the monthly cycle or during a menopausal shift, are the culprit. But dietary imbalances and stress also cause flare-ups. “Acne in adults is like a whistle blow. Often it’s a sign that something else not quite right is going on,” says Michael Murray, ND, a naturopath and coauthor of The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Fewer Refined Carbs

“Eating chocolate or a lot of junk food doesn’t by itself seem to cause acne, but not having a balanced diet and eating too many refined carbs can cause problems,” says Albert Lefkovits, MD, director of the Park Avenue Center for Advanced Medical and Cosmetic Dermatology in New York City.

In a 2007 study, Australian researchers found that people who followed a low–glycemic index (GI) diet (which is low in refined carbohydrates like those found in white bread) had a 22% decrease in acne lesions, compared with a control group that ate more high-GI foods. Scientists suspect that raised insulin levels from the carbs may trigger a release of hormones that inflame follicles and increase oil production.

Less Dairy

A 2006 Harvard study found that girls who drank two or more glasses of milk daily had about a 20% higher risk of acne than those who had less than a glass a week. studies published last year and in 2008 suggested that fat-free milk in particular, which is higher in sugar than whole milk, might be a culprit. (another hypothesis is that hormones in dairy products play a role.) if you regularly drink fat-free, consider switching to 1% milk or nondairy nut milks (look for those that have fewer than 10 g of sugar per serving).

Blue Light Terapy

These powerful rays penetrate follicles to kill off acne-causing bacteria. For severe cases, photodynamic therapy adds a topical solution called Levulan to blue light therapy. Note that these treatments can cause temporary redness and may not be covered by insurance. Dermatologists’ fees start at about $250 per session for blue light therapy and $800 for photodynamic therapy.

Old Drug, New Use

Long used to treat high blood pressure, prescription Aldactone (spironolactone) is now getting a second life as a treatment for hormonal acne. The drug (a tablet taken orally) blocks receptors of the hormone androgen, helping to limit the testosterone surges that can prompt pimples.

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