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Putting The Squeeze On Acne The Natural Way

What is acne?

Zits. Pimples. Spots. No matter what you call it, acne is an inflammatory skin condition that causes breakouts or lesions on the skin that can result in permanent scarring. Though acne outbreaks generally first appear during puberty, teenagers aren't the only ones who suffer from this embarrassing and sometimes painful condition.

What causes it?

Most research suggests that acne results from a disorder of the sebaceous glands which secrete an oily substance known as sebum. Many skin doctors believe a male sex hormone androgen -- present in both males and females -- stimulates the production of sebum. When excess sebum builds up in the pores, bacteria multiplies and follicles fester. Hormonal imbalances caused by puberty, pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, and even stress can trigger acne outbreaks, as can certain drugs such as birth control pills and anabolic steroids. Genetics play a part as well. If your parents or siblings had acne, there's a good chance you will, too.

What are the symptoms?

Acne outbreaks generally fall into two categories: non-inflammatory and inflammatory.

Whiteheads and blackheads represent common types of non-inflammatory acne, while hard nodules and painful, pus-filled cysts are typical symptoms of the more serious inflammatory presentation of the disease.

What can I do about it?

Non-inflammatory acne can generally be treated with over-the-counter medications, but inflammatory outbreaks often require prescription drugs or even surgery. However, there are several natural remedies that have proven effective in treating and controlling both types of acne. A few of them come directly from your pantry:

GARLIC - If you can handle the smell, freshly peeled raw garlic rubbed directly onto the affected area several times daily has been proven to work well against acne. As has chewing three or so cloves of raw garlic each morning over an extended period of time.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR - A diluted vinegar solution -- eight parts water to one part vinegar -- applied directly to the face after washing helps, too. Apply the vinegar wash to a clean face with a cotton ball, leave on for several minutes and rinse. The vinegar helps eliminate acne-causing bacteria from the skin.

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