One of the most common diseases of adolescents and experienced by almost everybody at least once in their life – Acne. Yes, acne or simply put, pimples can be a source of great stress essentially because they appear at an age when everyone wants to look their best. Self-limiting as they are in nature, some can get really nasty, enough to mar not only the skin but also a person’s self-confidence permanently. Acne are of 2 types namely Acne Vulgaris which is the commonest and Acne Rosacea which is rare.
Acne Vulgaris are the ones that attack adolescents and young adults. Although both men and women are affected, men are affected more severely. They are self-limiting and disappear spontaneously most often but sometimes they can go on up to middle age especially in women. Forehead, cheeks, upper back and middle chest, shoulders and upper arms are the most common areas of acne. Spurt in androgen production during puberty which causes development of sebaceous glands is understood to be the main cause.
Although inherited overactive sebaceous glands, abnormal keratinization of hair follicles and increased microbial activity of the commensal Propionibacterium Acnes are also said to be important contributors. Contact with oily makeup, dust and pollution, hot and humid climate causing excess sweating and pre-menstrual flare in women are all responsible in worsening the cases.
Based on their morphology they can be categorized in 4 grades. Grade 1 is Comedonal acne which chiefly includes presence of whiteheads and blackheads on the skin and maybe a few erythematous papules. Grade 2 is Papulopustular acne which comprises of multiple red papules, some topped with tiny pustules, around 2-4 mm in size. Grade 3 is Papulonodular acne which is acne more than 5mm in size. Much larger and deeper pustules, indurated papules and nodules are some common attributes. Grade 4 includes Nodulocystic acne which features nodules and large cysts. The nodules could be painful leaving scars.
The psychological impact on a developing teenager and the pain and discomfort are the main reasons calling for treatment. Frequent and regular washing of face with a mild soap and water, keeping hair clean of dandruff, avoiding oil based makeup and hot and humid climate are the key precautions to be taken. Treatment in modern medicine is based on correcting the bacterial imbalance, the excess keratinization, scarring and inflammation. In extreme cases anti-androgen therapy, UV peels, application to dry ice may also be considered.
Ace Rosacea on the other hand is seen in men and women of middle age with lot of facial flushing. Premenopausal subjects, excess of spicy and caffeinated products, photosensitivity and alcohol are important trigger and predisposing factors. These are known to be bright red and easily blanch on application of pressure. Only a few are topped with pustules. Usually the cheeks, nose, forehead, chin and lips are commonly affected. Therapy in conventional medicine aims in eliminating the trigger factors, antibiotics and steroids to reduce inflammation.
Homoeopathy has a huge role to play in helping people deal with their acne as the problem is that of recurrence due to inherent tendency to acne on a base of strong family history. Since both these cannot be eliminated by treatment in conventional medicine, people resort to homoeopathy. Homoeopathy considers not only the physical factors involved in the acne but also takes care of the mental stress induced due to peer pressure.
Following medicines are known to be especially important in the treatment of Acne –
1. Berberis Aquifolium – It can be used for blotches and pimples and clears the complexion. The medicine can be used if skin is dry, rough, and scaly as also if there are eruptions on scalp extending to the face and neck.
2. Kali Bichromium– People with blotchy red appearance and florid acne can be administered this medicine. Better from heat, its worse from beer, morning, hot weather, undressing.
3. Sulphur – It is used for very dirty, dry unhealthy skin. Every little injury suppurates, it could be administered in case of freckles, itching, burning, worse scratching and washing and skin infections after local medication. It is believed to be worse with warmth in bed, in morning, night and from alcoholic stimulants periodically. It is better in dry and warm weather.
4. Ledum Palustre –People with red pimples on forehead and cheeks may find this medicine to be quite useful. Stinging when touched, and crusty eruption around nose and mouth are the acne that can be dealt with using this medicine. It can also be used for acne on forehead or sticking pain. Worse in heat, the condition is better in cold weather.
5. Hydrocotyle Asiatica – It can be used for copious perspiration, induration and exfoliation of skin as also pustular acne.
6. Antimony Crudum – Conditions that include a desire for acids and pickles and may be worse in evening from heat, acids, wine, water, and washing can be given this medicine. It could be better, in open air, during rest. Sensitive to cold bathing, it may include thick, hard, and honey-colored scabs.
7. Kali Bromatum – Pustular acne especially on face. It involves itching that may be worse on chest shoulders and face. It could be better, when occupied mentally or physically.
8. Asteria Rubens – The medicine can be used for flabby with red face conditions. With pimples seen on the side of nose, chin and mouth, the skin is destitute of pliability and elasticity while itching is observed in spots. Worsened by coffee, night and cold damp weather, acne is observed to appear on left side.
9. Belladonna – Erythema, pustules on face, reddish shining face, throbbing pulsating pains and alternate redness and paleness of the skin are some signs where this medicine can be given. Conditions that seem to get worse with touch, jar, noise, draught, afternoon and lying or better when semi-erect could use this medicine as well.
10. Bovista – The medicine may be given for acne that gets worse in summer or due to the use of cosmetics. Blunt instruments leaving deep impression on the skin or pimples spreading over the entire body can use it too.
11. Calcarea Sulphurica– It can be used for pustular acne and also for people with a tendency to have wounds that discharge pus and don’t heal easily. People with yellow scabs on skin can also use the medicine.
12. Nux Vomica– The dose can be used by those who have acne with face red and blotchy. Also it is used in conditions that get worse in the morning, narcotics, alcoholic stimulants, stress, dry weather or cold weather.
13. Radium Bromide – Individuals suffering from small pimples and itching all over body, burning of skin as if afire can be given this medicine. It may get better in open air or hot bath.
14. Natrum Muriaticum – It can be used for people with shiny, oily and earthy face complexion as also for those with greasy skin especially on hairy parts, eruptions especially on margin of hairy scalp and bends of joints. The condition may be observed getting worse by the seashore or heat and better by cold bathing or open air.
Homoeopathy helps not only in reducing the recurrence of acne, but also in reducing the chances of scarring. Besides homoeopathy doesn’t have any unwanted side-effects like that of conventional medication. So along with good hygiene homoeopathy can give brilliant results in the treatment of acne and can be a boon to those undergoing the social pressure of having them.
– Dr. Rachita Narsaria