Adolescent Acne

Almost all young people between the ages of 12 and 17 have at least occasional breakouts of whiteheads, blackheads or pimples. Most can manage their acne with over-the-counter treatments but for some, acne is more serious. By their mid-teens, nearly 35% of teenagers have acne severe enough to require some treatment from a medical professional.

In most cases, acne starts at around the age of 12 or 13 and can last for 5 to 10 years. It usually goes away by the early twenties. But for some, acne can be persistent, well into the late twenties or thirties and even into the forties. Some people get acne for the first time as an adult, never having it as a teen.

Acne affects young men slightly more than young women.Young men are more likely to have severe, longer lasting forms of acne and are less likely to visit a dermatologist.

Some young women are more prone to occasional acne flare-ups due to their use of cosmetics and the hormonal changes associated with their menstrual cycle. These kinds of acne may affect young women well into adulthood.

Acne lesions usually occur on the face, but can also occur on the neck, shoulders, chest, scalp, back, arms and legs.


Risk factors for Adolescent Acne



Bowel toxins from poor digestion or a prolonged transit time may contribute to acne.

Environment / Toxicity  


Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  

History of adolescent acne


Adolescent Acne suggests the following may be present

Cell Salts  



Environment / Toxicity  

Recommendations for Adolescent Acne



Vitex has been found to be very useful for treating teenage acne, preferably accompanied by changes in eating habits.


Glycolic Acid

Products containing Glycolic Acid have proven very effective in the treatment of acne.


Tea Tree oils (Melaleuca / Leptospermum - Manuka)

124 patients with mild to moderate acne in a single-blind randomized trial were given either a 5% gel of tea-tree oil or 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. Both treatments resulted in significant improvement of noninflamed and inflamed lesions after three months, with tea tree oil causing more severe facial redness and benzoyl peroxide being more effective in noninflamed lesions. There were fewer unwanted side-effects in the tea tree oil group – 44% versus 79%. It was concluded that tea tree oil may be a valuable alternative to some traditional treatments of acne. [Lancet, December 8, 1990; p.1438, Medical Journal of Australia, 1990;153: pp.455-458]

We believe that this 5% solution is probably not strong enough for moderate to severe acne. Stronger solutions (up to 15%) should provide even better results.



Liver Detoxification Support

The liver is the most important organ in metabolizing hormones so including foods and supplements which support liver function would be beneficial. Examples include dark leafy greens, beets, artichoke, burdock root, dandelion greens, carrots, parsley, yams, garlic and onions.


Sugars Avoidance / Reduction

See the link between Acne and a Grain-free diet. Also, minimize chocolate, nuts, soda, anything containing sugar, and dairy which can aggravate acne.


Grain-free / Low Starch Diet

Researchers say that many dermatologists report improvements in their patents’ acne after putting them on low-carbohydrate diets. They also point out the rate of acne is high in contemporary societies (up to 60% of 12-year-olds and 95% of 18-year-olds) as compared with the rate in societies such as the Ache of the Amazon and the Kitava islanders in Papua New Guinea. In these traditionally based cultures, refined sugars and grains are virtually unknown – and so is the incidence of acne.


Therapeutic Fasting

Fasting clears the skin and whitens the eyes. It is common to see skin eruptions clear while fasting.



Personal Hygiene Changes

Please see the description of a new soap being used to treat facial skin problems under “Personal Hygiene Changes”.



Zinc inhibits 5-alpha reductase, which prevents the formation of DHT and thus decreases the production of sebum. Curiously, blood levels of zinc tend to be lowest in 13 and 14 year old boys. Zinc picolinate (30-60mg/day) is a good type of zinc to try.



Acne in both men and women can show improvement with vitamin E and selenium treatment.

Oxygen / Oxidative Therapies  

Ozone / Oxidative Therapy

Ozonated olive oil used topically has a reputation for benefiting acne.


Vitamin E

Acne in both men and women can show improvement with vitamin E and selenium treatment.


Vitamin A

Vitamin A (150,000-300,000iu/day) may help decrease sebum production also. This very high level of vitamin A can have toxic side effects over a long period of time, so must be used in a special form and under naturopathic supervision.


Weak or unproven link
Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended



A chronic skin disorder due to inflammation of hair follicles and sebaceous glands (secretion glands in the skin).


A drug or medication that can legally be bought without a doctor's prescription being required.

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