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What causes acne?

The factors that directly cause acne are: excess oil production, pores becoming clogged by “sticky” skin cells, bacteria, and inflammation.

Factors that contribute to acne:

  • polycystic ovarian syndrome

  • hormone imbalance

  • stress

  • menstrual cycle irregularity   

  • hair products, skincare products, and makeup, which can clog pores

  • diet, which can influence inflammation throughout the body

  • medications, including corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, and lithium

At-home skincare routine


●Gently clean your face twice a day. Cetaphil minimizes skin irritation and dryness. Dove Sensitive Skin Bar is also great. For more on my favorite soaps, click here

●Don't aggressively scrub the skin; a gentle rub with the fingertips is good. Repetitive mechanical trauma can aggravate inflammatory acne and promote the development of new acne lesions.


●Water-based lotions, cosmetics, and hair products are less comedogenic than oil-based products. Seek out non-comedogenic skincare and cosmetic products.


DON'T pick at your acne lesions, this makes things worse.

Give yourself an at-home facial: 

Aztec Secret – Indian Healing Clay, great for deep pore cleansing.  

100% Natural Calcium Bentonite Clay.



MOST treatments for acne are a no-no in pregnancy and breastfeeding.


In particular, oral isotretinoin and topical tazarotene are classified as pregnancy category X drugs, very dangerous, and must never be used in pregnant women or women who are attempting pregnancy.


The safest options for acne in pregnancy are:

Topical erythromycin

Topical clindamycin

Azelaic Acid which comes in OTC and prescription strength 

Diet and skin health

A healthy diet translates to healthy skin.


Some studies have linked high-glycemic-index foods (those that cause blood sugar levels to rise more quickly) and acne.


Studies have shown that people with acne are more likely

to have vitamin E, A, and zinc deficiencies.

Consider these options for healthier, more vibrant skin.



Vitamin A is an essential nutrient that plays a role in

cell growth. It also has specific benefits for the skin,

including treating acne.




Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, known to fight free radical damage to skin cells.


Here is what Vitamin C offers:

» Boosts collagen production (aka — plumps up your skin).

» Repairs sun-damaged skin.

» Has a strong, hydrating effect on dry skin.

» Helps heal wounds and help smooth out scars and fade brown spots.

So get citrus fruits in your diet daily. Examples include pineapple, oranges, lemons, limes and tangerines.



Benefits of magnesium include its power to speed up the absorption of calcium in the body, ease stiff muscles, lower cortisol production, thereby helping to reduce acne, and also helps stabilize any hormonal imbalances in the body.


Sometimes this can lead to loose stools, a mini detox, which can also help. 


When zits happen, I typically cry. Just kidding. Zinc can really help. Zinc is another powerful mineral antioxidant required for normal skin function. Zinc can:

» Treat erosive pustular and crusting of the scalp when taken orally in zinc sulfate form. I mean, ewww…

» Helps heal damaged skin – zinc can help to treat acne and accelerate wound healing by both topical and oral application.

» Boosts your immune system and helps control surface bacteria from pimpling. I think I just made that word up. “Pimpling — the act of creating pimples” — let me contact the Oxford English Dictionary for possible inclusion.


Zinc supplement 20-50 mg per day. 



Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to be especially effective at repairing acute sun damage (i.e. sunburns) when taken with vitamin C. Vitamin E has also been shown to:

» Reduce skin damage caused by UV irradiation

» Improve immune function and skin durability

» Helps treat skin inflammation


Topical Acne Treatment

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Effective doses range from 7500 IU to 10,000 IU a day. Please avoid doses greater than 7500 IU if pregnant.


Benzoyl peroxide

In addition to its antibacterial properties, benzoyl peroxide is also comedolytic. Available in the United States in both prescription and nonprescription products as 2.5 to 10% gels, lotions, creams, pads, masks, and cleansers, and is usually applied twice daily.


Benzoyl peroxide can cause skin irritation.  


Tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide should not be used at the same time.


Apply benzoyl peroxide in the morning and tretinoin in the evening. 

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is a gentle acid naturally derived from wheat, barley, and rye. Its benefits are numerous – it is effective at treating acne, whiteheads and blackheads, rosacea and redness, congested and oily skin, and pigmentation.

Topical azelaic acid (which tends to be lab-engineered for stability) works by reducing the body’s natural production and growth of keratin cells, which in turn prevents them from blocking the pores and sebaceous glands (the glands that
release sebum).

It can also kill the bacteria associated with acne: this common skin bacteria feeds on sebum, creating waste and fatty acids that can worsen acne and cause inflammation.

Safe choice in pregnancy.

Salicylic Acid

La Roche-Posay Effaclar: This salicylic acid face wash targets excess oil and helps to clear acne blemishes with 2% salicylic acid and lipo-hydroxy acid.

Topical Retinoids

Topical tretinoin should not be applied at the same time as benzoyl peroxide.


Apply a thin layer of the topical retinoid to the affected areas; a pea-sized is good.


Topical retinoids are not true photosensitizing drugs, but patients using topical retinoids have described symptoms of increased sun sensitivity.


The drug should not be used in patients with an allergy to fish.


Topical retinoids are not recommended in pregnancy. 

Oral isotretinoin is used in severe cases. But there are risks. 


When it comes to treating acne, sulfur is kind of an unsung hero. The over-the-counter ingredient is a natural element with antibacterial properties. It is also fairly gentle on the skin compared to other products. Sulfur can be found in bar soaps such as Natural Elephant or in a foaming cleanser such as Honest Facial Wash

Topical antibiotics

 Clindamycin, and erythromycin.

Antimicrobial plus a topical retinoid appears to be more effective than either alone.


Oral antibiotics

Doxycycline and minocycline have replaced erythromycin and tetracycline as the most frequently used oral antibiotics for acne therapy by dermatologists in the United States.

Hormonal therapy

For those with PCOS or hormonal imbalance.

Procedural therapy

Treatment of acne vulgaris with lasers, visible light, and chemical peels.


Don't forget to protect your skin year-round from overexposure to the sun. 

Seed cycling may relieve some of your symptoms if a hormonal imbalance is present. Seed cycling is not really new but it is newly trendy for the management of acne.


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