Let’s face it: teen acne is no fun. Being a teenager introduces trying times, facing so many changes both physically, hormonally, emotionally and more – and then you get pimples which can affect your confidence. It’s just not fair! I personally battled minimal teen acne, but I’ve had two girls go through it and my 10 year-old isn’t far behind. Since avoiding toxins and chemicals is my jam, I wanted to get to the root of things – so today we’re looking at how to get rid of teenage acne naturally.
A doctor’s take on acne and food
Since I’m not a professional on the topic, I wanted to get the opinion of someone who is. So I enlisted the help of Dr. Ana-Maria Temple, a pediatrician in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the blogger behind Family Wellness Tips. She helped answer some of these questions:
Does food effect acne?
Absolutely. Your skin cells die every single day and along with that, make new ones every single day. If you feed your body garbage, your skin will make garbage cells – these can include acne cells. In addition, sugar in your diet feeds the acne and causes the acne cells to multiply.
Are there foods that contribute to acne?
Yes; they are in this order:1. High sugar foods, such as soda, sports drinks, juices, donuts, chocolate, cereal, sports drinks, etc. – those are the sugar culprits.2. Greasy fast foods3. Dairy
Everyone is different. In my ‘previous life,’ before people cared about and knew to change their diets, I had lots of teens who simply stopped eating pizza and soda and just removing those two things helped clear their acne. I saw patients with horrendous acne who simply gave up soda and Gatorade alone, and instead started drinking more water and this small change helped clear it up.
What type of a role do foods play in acne?
Many people like to blame hormones for acne, but Dr. Temple explained that the body uses food to make hormones. This being said, the quality of the foods that one ingests will result in the type of hormones created. If you feed your body good foods, it helps create those hormones, and consequently junk foods will contribute to the creation of hormones as well.
Once you have removed any problematic foods, what are some foods that might be able to help with skin issues?
- Fruits and vegetables – 1 serving at every meal (6 total). You don’t want to do 6 fruits and 0 vegetables, since this ends up being a lot of sugar; you want to balance it out and eat a variety of both.
- Essential fatty acid (salmon, walnuts, eggs, sardines)
- Vitamin D – you can get this from eggs and salmon, but sun exposure can cause scarring to acne so taking a good quality supplement can be helpful
- Fermented foods, which include probiotics, will help bring good bacteria on the skin and get rid of the bad bacteria which will help clear the acne. Examples include kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt.
- Water is a great substitution because it flushes out all of the toxins and helps clear the skin
How important is water in treating acne?
Water is very important in treating acne. To determine how much water one should drink in a day, take your body weight and divide it by two; this will give you the number of ounces of water you should drink daily. Dr. Temple suggests infused water for those kids who are not keen on the “plain” taste of water, or even drinking La Croix or mineral water. Diet sodas and even drinks such as Vitamin Water are just as bad as the regular ones when it comes to acne.
Are there any other lifestyle changes that you can make?
Yes. Sleep is a big one! Teenagers like to spend much of their time on their phones and/or on Netflix. Many times they assume that their homework is taking up most of their time, and yet it’s actually because they are on their phones while doing homework. All of this extra time cuts into sleep, which is crucial. When we sleep, the body gets rid of the garbage cells, such as acne, blemishes, eczema, etc. It’s also a time for the body to balance out hormones. Sleep is crucial to detoxifying the skin and regulating hormones.
Other lifestyle changes that can help acne include using sunscreen when outside (as the sun on acne can lead to scarring), not drinking alcohol (after the teen years, of course, as the sugar in it can aggravate it), washing your face to avoid clogging pores, and managing stress. Dr. Temple’s #1 suggestion on limiting stress: limiting social media use.
To sum it up: Teenage Acne treatments that work
- Adopt a positive teen acne diet by removing sugars, fried and processed foods, and replacing with fruits, vegetables and water.
- Dairy and acne don’t generally mix. My 15 year old had tremendous success with her acne after removing dairy from her diet.
- Limit social media
- Manage stress
- Get enough sleep (I am a big advocate of self-care!)
If you don’t get results after following this protocol, talk to your provider about supplements. While these are individualized, generally speaking these can include Vitamin D, probiotics, zinc, omega-3’s and Vitamins A & E.