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Acne is a chronic inflammatory condition resulting in pustular skin eruptions (pimples) which occur most commonly on the face, neck, shoulders and upper back.

Your skin has tiny holes called pores, which can become blocked by oil, bacteria, dead skin cells, and dirt. When this occurs, you may develop a pimple or “zit.” If your skin is repeatedly affected by this condition, you may have acne.

Acne is caused by a blockage at the opening of the sebaceous (oil-producing) glands in the skin. These glands normally produce an oily substance called sebum which is required to keep the skin supple and healthy. Puberty causes these glands to produce excess oil. At the same time, the dead skin cells lining the skin pores are not shed properly and clog up the follicles. These two effects result in a build-up of oil-producing whiteheads and blackheads (where a darkened plug of oil is visible). This build-up of oil creates an ideal environment for bacteria to multiply. This triggers inflammation and the formation of red or pus-filled spots.
See the Acne – causes topic for more information. (insert link)


As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted to diagnose and treat this condition. Sometimes your Doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. If the case is severe there are other treatments available from your Doctor. See the acne management topic for further information.

Can sunbathing, sunbeds and sunlamps help improve acne?

There is no conclusive evidence that prolonged exposure to sunlight or using sunbeds or sunlamps improves the symptoms of acne. Many medications used to treat acne can make your skin more sensitive to light, so exposure could cause painful damage to your skin, and increase your risk of skin cancer.

Diet tips

See our Acne Diet (insert link)

  • Vitamins may be of assistance if dietary intake is inadequate.
  • Zinc supplementation, in combination with other therapies, has been shown to improve acnein some cases.
  • Combined with Vitamin B3, Zinc (also known as nicotinamide, niacin or nicotinic acid) and folic acid helps to manage acne.
  • Vitamin A, as a supplement or in skin preparations, plays an important role in the treatment of acne. Vitamin A is not suitable for pregnant women.
  • Calendula is used widely as a soothing ingredient in skin preparations. It has anti inflammatory, antiseptic and wound-healing properties.
  • Sarsaparilla and Gotu kola, taken orally, have anti-inflammatory properties that may help to improve acne.
  • Tea tree oil has been shown to be an effective treatment in skin preparations for acne.

The listed essential oils have been suggested for the health management of Acne. The most specific oils are shown in capitals:  BERGAMOT, cedarwood, GERANIUM, juniper, LAVENDER, petitgrain, rosewood, TEA TREE, ylang ylang.

How to apply: Blend any single listed essential oil or combination of several essential oils – five drops (total) to 10ml (1/3 fl oz) – to a vegetable carrier oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, jojoba, wheat germ. After cleansing, apply topically to acne affected area.

Ask Calanna 

Ask your Pharmacist for advice.

  • Follow the Diet Hints.
  • Drink at least six to eight glasses of fresh water a day. This helps prevent dehydration and constipation that may be associated with acne. Water has been known to help with cleansing of the body. Filtered water is preferable. Consider using a special water filter Jug.
  • Cleanse the skin thoroughly with a medicated face wash recommended by your Pharmacist. A special acne product containing Benzoyl Peroxide might be suggested to apply after cleansing the skin. Ask your Pharmacist for advice. There are many brands and they are available as a soap, liquid or a foam. Always pat the affected area dry rather than vigorously rubbing.
  • Include yoghurt or some acidophilus in the diet. Acidophilus can be useful in establishing a healthy internal flora and promoting the bowels to eliminate properly.
  • Some cosmetic products may aggravate the condition, especially those that contain certain ingredients such as isopropyl myristate. Non-greasy, water-based products are best. Some products use the description ‘non-comedogenic’ or ‘non-acnegenic’. This means the products have been tested and shown not to worsen acne.
  • If the diet is inadequate consider some supplements. The B Group Vitamins may be helpful for stress. Stress tends to deplete B vitamins and stress is often associated with acne. Zinc should be suggested because it is reputed to help the immune system. Vitamin A is useful for a number of skin conditions including acne.
  • Apply topical preparations to the area involved, not just to individual lesions.
  • Sunlight may aggravate irritation caused by topical applications (i.e. retinoids), therefore these need to be applied at night.


DISCLAIMER: This information is an educational aid only. It has not intended to replace medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Thus talk to your doctor, pharmacist, nurse or naturopath before following any medical regimen to see whether it is safe and effective for you.