Most people know the pain of acne. In fact, market research says the following:
The global professional acne treatment market generated $6,298.9 million revenue in 2020.
If someone doesn’t try to treat their acne, they likely try to cover it up with makeup. Then the question of whether their makeup itself is toxic to the point of needing to be concerned is raised.
Before your teen takes an acne pill, or adds to that $6,000 million in another way, let’s look at acne from a different perspective. Let’s take a look at what can cause acne, what helps clear up acne, why acne medications work, and why you might want to avoid them.
Where do Acne Medications Come From?
Retinoids, originally called Accutane, was originally intended to help slow cancer. Because vitamin A controls the growth and differentiation of cells, and retinoids is a synthetic form of vitamin A, it was intended to slow down the growth of cancer cells. This didn’t happen, but there were several benefits seen with acne and other skin condition during the trials and tests.
This happened because vitamin A is also important to the normal shedding of the skin cells that line the walls of the hair follicle, and the turnover of skin cells–where acne comes from.
How do Acne Medications Work?
Mayo Clinic explains it this way:
Acne medications work by reducing oil production and swelling or by treating bacterial infection. With most prescription acne drugs, you may not see results for four to eight weeks. It can take many months or years for your acne to clear up completely.
They’re going after the causes of the acne, yes—inflammation, bacterial infections, and vitamin A deficiency. They’ve even found the fixable solution–an increase in vitamin A in the form of retinoids. However, they aren’t fixing the problem that caused the need for an increase in vitamin A.
Why Acne Medications Aren’t the Answer
Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and while you will see below how an increase in vitamin A can help, it’s just as bad to take too high of a dose.
Vitamin A controls cell production and differentiation, and Accutane contains a high dosage of synthetic vitamin A
It is for this reason that drugs.com says this under Warnings in regard to Accutane:
Accutane in just a single dose can cause severe birth defects or death of a baby. Never use this medicine if you are pregnant or able to become pregnant.
You must have a negative pregnancy test before taking Accutane. You will also be required to use two forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy while taking this medicine.
Women of child-bearing potential must agree in writing to use two specific forms of birth control and have regular pregnancy tests before, during, and after taking Accutane. Stop using Accutane and call your doctor at once if you think you might be pregnant.
Do not donate blood while taking Accutane and for at least 30 days after you stop taking it.
Drastically lowers the production of sebum
Aside from possibly causing birth defects, one of the major effects retinoids will have on your teen’s body is dry skin. This comes from the fact that the high dose of vitamin A in retinoids reduces sebum production so much.
The hormones telling your teen’s body to produce more sebum and the vitamin A are like gas and brake pedals in a car. If you have no vitamin A, you’ll have too much oil. If you have too much vitamin A, you’ll likely not have enough.
Retinoids, while the most common prescription for acne treatment out there, isn’t the only one. Antibiotics and Salicylic acids are also used.
Bacterial infections and grow best in an excess of oil. Antibiotics fight bacteria and infections. As soon as someone stops taking it, though, the acne comes back. Therefore, it is not fixing the problem–just masking it.
If you look up salicylic acid on drugs.com, you can find these warnings:
Salicylic acid topical can cause a rare but serious allergic reaction or severe skin irritation. Stop using salicylic acid topical and get emergency medical help if you have: hives, itching; difficult breathing, feeling light-headed; or swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. … Using this medicine in a child or teenager with flu symptoms or chickenpox can cause a serious or fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome.
How many teens stop taking the drug if they get the flu? Especially if they are desperate to clear their skin?
Instead of masking the symptoms of this problem, let’s take a look at what can cause acne, and how to stop it at the root.
Inflammation changes the skin. Just think about when you slam your thumb in the door–it gets red, puffy, hot, and tender to the touch. Pimples and clogged pores can come from inflammation just as easily.
Where does inflammation come from, then? It’s part of the body’s way of healing itself from injury on the inside. These injuries come from toxins that may be in the air or water, or even in things like your teen’s hair products, cleaning products, and face scrubs. Inflammation also happens when we eat the wrong things. Is your teen allergic to anything? How much dye is in their food? How many GMOs? Should they maybe give up dairy?
Inflammation can also come from the body trying to heal or handle a misalignment in your teen’s skeletal system or an interruption of the nervous system. A simple way to address this cause is to get adjusted by a chiropractor. When we get adjusted and get everything back into alignment, those stressors on the body are removed, so the body doesn’t need to work as hard to heal it. This then takes a stressor out of the system, so the body isn’t as taxed, giving you more energy and a higher emotional threshold. Something we can all agree is sometimes hard to come by in the teenage years.
Help your teen keep their posture correct. When the body is out of alignment, that, too, is a stressor on the body. That brings us back to where we started; out of alignment and dealing with unnecessary stress. Help your teen retain the benefits of chiropractic adjustments far longer by keeping unnecessary stressors like bad posture to a minimum.
It’s not Just Hormonal
Most people assume acne is caused by changing hormones in teen years. It’s not this simple, however. Acne doesn’t come from hormones but can be caused due to an imbalance in hormones. This is why, during women’s hormonal cycles, the acne comes and goes–because there are certain points in that cycle that some hormones spike, and others where they wane.
The reason acne gets worse during puberty is that everything accelerates during puberty, including hormones that dictate what happens to the skin. Not everything is accelerated the same rate, leading to an imbalance in hormones.
While most of us can think of an easy way to stop the hormonal cycle and easily “fix” the problem for young women, birth control isn’t the answer. The reproductive hormones aren’t the only hormones birth control influences and pulls out of balance. To learn more about birth control and why you should avoid it, check out the articles here and here.
Your teen doesn’t have to be at the mercy of their hormones, however. Get their hormone levels tested and work on keeping their hormones balanced by managing stress and what they eat. Refer back to what was mentioned in the above section for what to look out for in regard to food.
Vitamin A Deficiency
If the acne treatment that works the best is a synthetic form of vitamin A, what does that indicate? That those whom the medication works for are likely low on vitamin A.
Good sources of vitamin A
Skin is the part of us farthest away from our body and digestive system, so any vitamin A the body gets through the food we eat, will be able to be taken by the internal organs before the skin.
This is easily fixed by reversing the order in which the parts of your teen’s body can claim vitamin A. In other words, applying it topically rather than ingesting it. This isn’t as hard as it may sound, as there are several oils that naturally have vitamin A in them. Coconut oil, avocado oil, CBD oil, and rosehip oil are all good sources of vitamin A that can safely be used topically. These oils have multiple benefits, not the least of which is that your teen’s body will be getting real vitamin A instead of a synthetic form.
There’s also, of course, always the option to just eat more vitamin A. Beef liver, cod liver oil, goat cheese, lamb liver–and lamb itself–and eggs are great sources of vitamin A. As stated above, the surest way to get vitamin A to your skin is to reverse the way it moves through your body. Having your teen rub egg yolks into their skin is also great for acne.
A lot of people start to shy away from the idea of eating foods sourced from animals. Fortunately, there are non-animal-based foods that are great sources of pro-vitamin A. Be aware, though, these aren’t vitamin A—the body must work to convert them into vitamin A. Try kale, sweet potatoes, mangoes, spinach, broccoli, red peppers, or carrots.
Acne can come from Untreated Infections…
If you don’t address the root cause of something, it will keep coming back. If you take a medication and it seems to go away, but you don’t address the root cause, it hasn’t gone away; it’s just being masked. If your teen’s acne is from an infection, and they’re taking a bunch of medication, but they don’t address what is causing the infection, the acne will come back as soon as they stop.
Stop eating sugar. Every bacterium and infection are fed by sugar. Help your teen cut their sugar intake, and not only will you starve any infections, but they’ll also experience the other benefits of cutting sugar from their diet.
Acne can be hard to live with, especially if your teen is self-conscious about the way they look, as most of us are, at that time of life. The good news is, just because acne is common doesn’t mean it’s normal, and there are simple ways to address it without breaking the bank; or causing dysfunction.
To get adjusted or get an allergy or hormone test done, contact a Wellness Way Clinic today!