Acne usually starts at puberty and tends to affect males more than females.  Usually it’s the face, neck chest and upper back that are affected. Although acne is often triggered by puberty it can persist once puberty is over.

Layers of skin showing blocked, Inflamed, oil-producing glands

Problems begin in the sebaceous gland of hair follicles.  There, sebum (a waxy substance that lubricates the skin and prevents unnecessary water loss) builds up. Sebaceous glands are concentrated on the face and upper back, which is why these areas are worse affected.

Male hormones produced by both male and females at puberty stimulate the sebaceous glands, leading to a rise in sebum production. This rise usually results in oilier skin, often temporarily, as hormonal balance is regained at maturity.  Unfortunately, sometimes cells at the top of the hair follicle over-produce keratin, plugging the hair shaft and trapping sebum.  This traps bacteria causing blackheads, infection and inflammation.  Whiteheads (pockets of infection), characterised by redness, pain and heat are typical of acne vulgaris (the most common form.)

Exposure to certain drugs and chemicals can also cause acne to develop.  Pre-menstrual acne flare-ups are also fairly common during hormonal development.

We all want to get rid of spots that embarrass and frustrate us when we need to look our best.  Apart from following a scrupulous hygiene routine there are other treatments and issues that you should be aware of:

Many conventional acne treatments include anti-biotic creams, but they need to be used continually or the acne will recur.  I like to use herbal remedies that have traditionally been used to draw boils and abscesses, plus clays and essential oils that have a natural anti-biotic, healing effect and have a real affinity for problem skin.

Natural treatments for acne concentrate on addressing the cause, rather than just symptoms.  We also need to ask the question “what is going on internally to cause the acne?”

Natural acne remedies should also focus on liver function.  The liver regulates, breaks down and removes excess hormones, so it’s important to address this.

Constipation can cause toxins to be reabsorbed from the bowel and worsen acne.  Increasing fibre in the diet will help to rid toxins held in stools and restore a regular bowel habit.

If you are suffering from acne and would like help, e-mail for advice, book a consultation or request a free sample of Clay & Herbs Purifying Acne Masque. You can book a consultation at Greenleaves Herbal Healthcare.




Inspired by a life-long interest in health, I worked as an NHS medical secretary for 20 years. After experiencing the power of herbal remedies for myself, I trained as a medical herbalist, graduating from Westminster University in 2004. I’m a member of the College of Practitioners of Phytotherapy (CPP); a governing body for qualified medical herbalists. I’m a firm believer that you have the power to make profound changes, and I aim to support you on your journey - and help you resolve on-going health problems. I have published several articles and have served as health expert for Holland & Barrett's Healthy magazine. At a local level, I regularly dispense health advice in a health food shop. I have recently developed my own range of natural skincare products, Clay & Herbs. You can also find a wealth of information on medicinal herbs and a variety of health topics on my website: