The term acne is used to describe pimples, blackheads, white heads and cysts. These lesions are most problematic during the teenage years, but may also persist into adulthood.


  • Red, inflamed and irritated lesions that tend to occur on the face, back, shoulders and upper arms
  • Pimples may or may not have white heads
  • Blackheads have a small, dark black centre
  • Cysts are painful lumps beneath the skin that don't come to a head. This type of acne is more likely to cause scarring


  • Acne occurs when blockage of the skin's sebaceous ducts trap sebum in the deeper layers of the skin, causing inflammation on the skin surface
  • If the lesion becomes infected, pus can build up below the skin, causing a pimple
  • Hormonal changes mean that acne is particularly problematic during adolescence, and may be worse in the premenstrual phase of the reproductive cycle
  • Some people also experience worsening of their symptoms during times of Stress or if they eat poorly
  • Deficiencies of zinc or vitamin A may contribute to the problem
  • Natural therapists believe acne is indicative of poor toxin elimination, and recommend treatments that enhance the functioning of the liver, bowel and kidneys

Nutritional & Herbal Support

  • Zinc and vitamin A are involved in wound healing and the functioning of the oil glands, and may be beneficial for the treatment of acne. Zinc is also important for hormone function, so is specifically indicated for teenagers, and for acne that occurs as part of the premenstrual syndrome
  • If you regularly experience acne or skin problems as part of premenstrual syndrome, take Vitex agnus-castus, a herb that has traditionally been used to balance female hormones
  • Vitex is sometimes combined with other herbs and nutrients that provide PMT support. Important ingredients to look for include evening primrose oil (which helps maintain skin health), magnesium and vitamin B6
  • Liver and kidney cleansing herbs such as milk thistle, globe artichoke, schisandra and dandelion leaf support the body's own detoxification processes, and consequently help cleanse the skin

Diet & Lifestyle advice

  • Practicing good hygiene helps prevent the spread of infection. Keep your face clean, avoid touching acne lesions with your fingers, and wash your face regularly
  • Don't be tempted to squeeze acne lesions, as this increases the likelihood of scarring
  • Avoid oily cosmetics and moisturisers, and instead use light products, especially those including antibacterial and healing herbs such as tea tree oil and calendula
  • Stick to a healthy, high-fibre diet, and avoid oily, greasy and sugary foods
  • Avoid any foods (such as chocolate) that seem to trigger breakouts for you
  • Drink at least two litres of water every day - this supports the elimination of toxins

If symptoms persist consult your healthcare professional. Information provided is of a general nature and should not replace that of your healthcare professional.

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