My child has acne. Are there any supplements he should take in addition to a proper diet?
Answer: Acne is a condition that mainly affects the face, back and chest — those parts of the skin where the hair follicles are located, and active sebaceous glands that produce oil. They appear as whiteheads and blackheads and redness due to inflammation. The most common type of acne is acne vulgaris, characterized by inflamed, pus-filled patches.
The facts that boys suffer from acne more than girls, and that people without male hormones (eunuchs) do not suffer at all, give some insight into the mechanism of their origin. The amount of the male hormone testosterone increases during puberty (in girls too, although not in such quantities as in boys), and this triggers the synthesis of sebum and keratin. Keratin is the main element of the outer layer of the skin, and excess of it can block pores if too much oil is secreted. It has now been established that acne is caused not only by an increase in testosterone, which happens to all teenagers, but also by the additional formation of an even more potent derivative of the hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which can lead to the formation of acne.
With an increase in the amount of keratin, you form a plug that clogs the pore, which in turn creates a retention of fat behind it and this manifests itself as a blackhead. Blocked pores are an ideal breeding ground for the bacterium Proprionbacteirum acnes, which normally lives safely on the surface of our skin. Acne is an ideal environment for Proprionbacteirum acnes due to the absence of air and the abundance of fat for nourishment. It is easy to see that in this way prerequisites are created for the development of an infection in the skin, causing inflammation and pain in the area of the spot. If this inflammation gets out of control, it can spread to deeper tissues, and if it doesn’t break out, it causes a subcutaneous cyst.
The main consideration in food selection is to ensure a comprehensively healthy diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits and whole grains with some protein in the form of fish, lean meats, soy products and beans or lentils. Sweet, processed and fatty foods should be avoided. A teenager should drink 6–8 glasses of pure water daily, keep alcohol intake to a minimum, and use a pH-neutral skin cleanser. Make sure your teen is getting at least 3,000 micrograms (10,000 IU) of vitamin A (retinol), 25 mg of zinc, and 200 micrograms of chromium daily. Probiotic supplements may also help, especially if your child has been treated with antibiotics.
Source: Adapted from 500 Health and Nutrition Questions and Answers
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