"I am 19 years old and ever since I hit puberty I've had chest acne. I've done a lot of different things to try and treat it (applying acne medicine (multiple different types), keeping it clean, oil papers to keep the oil off, stop touching my chest/bust area) but it never goes away. Is there anything you would recommend or am I just, sadly, stuck with it?"
This query popped into my mailbox a while back. The advice I have is not really specific to chest acne but is relevant to any kind of acne.
You are definitely not stuck with acne! You definitely can make it go away, but it will take some trial-and-error to find the right solution. Acne is a symptom rather than an issue and can have many different reasons, so there is no one single cure for everyone.
The most common reason of acne are food intolerances. Once a doctor explained to me that skin problems are not skin diseases, rather they are symptoms of dysfunctions of organs, a view that is supported by Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Our food today is often quite difficult to digest -- we have never eaten so much processed stuff, sugars, diary, gluten; and we have never ingested to many chemicals as we do now. Very often the body freaks out at some point and is overwhelmed, and develops and intolerance or allergy. What exactly causes the problem varies from person to person, so you will have to analyse your diet and try to eliminate the problem.
A very common culprit could be sugar, processed food or over-fried fatty food. I have breakouts after chocolate, a guy I know gets back acne from soft drinks.
Diary intolerance is also closely linked to acne. If you do have serious problems digesting lactose, you probably have digestion problems, stomach aches, bloating. Ask your doctor for a lactose-intolerance test. However is your diary intolerance is mild, you just have to try giving up diary for a while and see whether your skin clears up.
Do read up about the Paleo way of eating. People who eat like that usually see a huge improvement in their skin.
Though diary and sugar are the most common causes of skin problems, there are two other food groups that can also mess up the skin: meat and gluten.
I was on the phone with my dad, who became a vegetarian back in the times when it was considered unhealthy and even dangerous. A friend of his had heavy acne on his face and was always embarrassed because of it. My dad persuaded him to try a meat-free way of eating, and the guy's acne disappeared. The guy stuck to being a vegetarian and was quite grateful to my dad.
Gluten intolerance: I am not sure if it might cause acne per se, but I know that it can cause other issues. A friend of mine had hands with pretty bad dermatitis, and she tried out eating gluten-free and her hands are now healed.
Do analyse what you eat and what could be affecting you. If something jumps out (obviously eating too much sugars, or feeling bad after eating a certain food), try removing completely it from your diet for a month. If nothing jumps out, you will have to do a bit of trial-an-error. Remember that two weeks is a minimum here, because the body takes a while to get used to changes.
Stress is also a huge contributing factor to skin issues. If you can't get rid of the cause of the stress (for example ending a toxic relationship), or learning to manage it better (for someone overwhelmed by their daily tasks it would be reading a book on time management); try learning to cope with it better: exercise, EFT, meditation and yoga are just some suggestions.
Topical solutions:Here some effective ways to deal with acne. Everyone's skin is different, so what may instantly work for one person may not work on another. It may take some trial-and-error to find what works for you:
* Switch your laundry products, especially if you are using scented ones.
* Don't over-do it with the cleaning. Aggressive cleaning makes the body produce even more oils. Use a gentle soap (something for sensitive skin) or even an intimate cleanser like the Facelle (they are gentle and pH neutral).
* Try a light moisturiser after cleansing. Keeping the skin moisturised will help to cut down the body's oil production.
* Try applying cider apple vinegar on it: start with 3:1 water to vinegar, and work your way up to 1:3. Wipe on with a cotton ball at night.
* Try applying tea tree oil on the problem areas.
* Clay masks work really well for some people. I especially recommend bentonite or green kaolin clay.
* Try taking vitamin B
* Try BHA (Salicylic Acid): something with 2% salicylic acid (soap, face cleanser or cream -- search among drugstore products), or try the DIY aspirin face mask.
* Try AHAs: if nothing else worked, AHAs might be the solution. Look for pharmacy brands for products or make your own. Start with mandaleic acid or lactic acid which are gentler, and start with low concentrations.
* Don't touch the skin in the problem areaIf nothing works, you might have go to a dermatologist. On this note, I want to mention that hormones are a common cause of acne, so you might still outgrow yours. If you are on birth control, trying another brand of pills often works.
* Drink plenty of water
* Wear cotton or other breathable fabric
* Keep the bed sheets clean!
Do any of you have any tips for getting rid of acne -- products or techniques that worked for you? Do share in the comments.