Thursday, April 4, 2019

A mom's successful efforts to alleviate adolescent acne, part one

Last blog post, I wrote about a health problem that is characteristic of my mother's stage of life. Today I'll write about a health problem that is characteristic of my oldest child's stage of life.

Approximately one year ago, I realized that I needed to do something to help my teenage daughter with acne. I did a lot of reading and studying and had her try many different things. I was set off in an odd direction for many months by a discovery that application of UHT milk helped lessen her acne. Finding out later that it only really worked with a specific brand of cotton balls made the issue even more interesting and confusing. I looked into alkaline phosphatases, acid phosphatases, gossypol, sodium carbonate, pleurotin, urea, and the nitroxyl radical. During all this, my child learned to limit her consumption of peanut butter, not leave Cetaphil on her face, and avoid rubbing/covering areas of her face with a hat/fingers/etc.

Finally, after noticing that UHT milk on the correct cotton balls turned a rather bright yellow, I realized that a sulfur compound was most likely involved. That sulfur can help with acne is old knowledge (see, but I wanted a sulfur-based skin product that would be inexpensive, not overly drying, and easy for my daughter to use.

Enter Dove White Beauty Bar: Two of its main ingredients are sulfur compounds (sodium lauroyl isethionate and sodium isethionate), and it doesn't have chemicals in it that we have found to be problematic (glycerin, methylchloroisothiazolinone, and methylisothiazolinone). A friend had recently reported that when her grandson stopped using the popular teenager skin washes (nearly all of which contain methylchloroisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone) and switched to plain Dove, his acne improved significantly. Many people on the internet report that Dove White soap has helped them with acne, too. So my daughter tried it.

I mixed some small pieces of Dove White Beauty Bar in water to make a skin wash that she could easily wash off (glycerin-containing products such as Cetaphil were hard for her to wash off thoroughly, resulting in blocked pores and then new zits), and she began using the mixture as a facial wash once in the morning and once at night. It worked!

How does sulfur help prevent acne? My daughter says the Dove face wash leaves her face drier and less oily, but apparently without the oft-noted rebound effect many report after use of oil-stripping cleansers. The tiny sulfur-containing signal molecule hydrogen sulfide (H2S) can regulate lipid (i.e. fat) metabolism (see, so I suspect it is involved.

My daughter still gets the occasional zit in places that have been rubbed or covered with something, but we think we figured out a good spot treatment to quickly reverse the inflammation process in those zits. I'll blog about that tomorrow. She is happy to be able to eat peanut butter again, and I'm happy to have a child who doesn't have to deal with acne-caused feelings of insecurity. I hope this post can help many other people working to combat acne.

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