Using Fish Oil for Acne – How it Works

young woman with hair pulled back squeezing a pimple on her face

Fish oils can help reduce the severity of acne

Recent studies show that fish oils can help reduce acne by lowering inflammation and improving your skin’s health.

Fish oil contains the omega 3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). You can also get omega 3 fatty acids from plant sources, such as flaxseed oilYour body can’t make these healthy fatty acids,  so you need to get them from your diet.

A number of studies from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon University show that omega 3 fatty acids are an important nutrient for healthy skin.  They’ve been shown to reduce acne breakouts and lessen redness and inflammation in certain types of skin conditions.

What Causes Acne?

Your skin is one of the largest organs on your body. It helps regulate your body temperature through sweating, protects your inner organs and helps your body make vitamin D.

Acne is a chronic skin condition that can affect you at any age. It’s hallmark symptoms is redness and inflammation. It can cause pimples and spots to appear on your face, chest, back and other parts of your body.

Many things can cause acne breakouts and pimples:

  • You could experience changes in hormone levels during menstrual cycles or pregnancy.
  • Your hair follicles get plugged up due to a build-up of dead skin cells (hyperkeratization).
  • A build-up of Propionibacterian Acnes, a bacteria that can cause acne to develop.

While you can’t die from acne, it can last for years and could negatively affect your self-esteem.

6 Ways Fish Oil Can Help Acne

A number of studies show that the omega 3 fatty acids in fish oil can benefit your skin in many ways:

  1. Fights Inflammation – One of the hallmark symptoms of inflammatory acne is redness, swelling and plugged skin pores.  A study in Marine Drugs journal showed fish oil provides an anti-inflammatory effect which can promote wound healing. This was supported by another study showing that fish oil supplements reduced acne in people whose diets lacked sufficient omega 3 fatty acids.
  2. Improve Skin Moisture – Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce skin dryness which can lead to healthier skin.
  3. Lowers Sebum Production – Fish oil may help to enhance your mood. Being in a better mood may lower your stress levels, which may help your body produce less sebum and oil which causes acne.
  4. Maintains the Skin Barrier – Studies show essential fatty acids help fortify and maintain the outer layer of the skin (stratum corneum). This can help make your skin stronger and more resilient to infections and acne-causing bacteria.
  5. Shrinks Oil Glands – Fish oils may reduce the size of your sebaceous glands. This could help lower sebum output and reduce the chance of plugging your hair follicles with excess oil.
  6. Hormone Control – Fish oil fats can keep your body’s production of androgens (testosterone) under control. This may help reduce skin oil production and lessen your chances from acne breakouts, blackheads and pimples.

How Can Fish Oils Treat Acne?

While there are many different treatments for acne, recent studies show that fish oils and omega 3 fatty acids may help reduce inflammation and pimple breakouts.

  • A study in Lipids in Health and Disease Journal showed omega 3 fatty acids improved inflammatory acne lesions. Patients used a supplement called GENUINE HEALTH Perfect Skin. Each capsule contained 250 mg. of EPA (from sardines and anchovies), 3.75 mg of zinc gluconate, 50 mcg of selenium, 50 mcg of chromium and 50 mcg of EGCG from green tea extract. After a 2 month period, patients had fewer acne lesions and less redness and inflammation.
  • Researchers at the Department of Dermatology at the Seoul National University Hospital in South Korea also discovered similar results. Forty-five (45) patients with mild to moderate acne received 2000 mg. of EPA and DHA.  After 10 weeks they found a significant decrease in inflammatory and non-inflammatory acne, with no adverse side effects.
  • Studies also show that fish oils have a positive effect on hormones (particularly in women). This may help lower androgen production which can reduce acne breakouts and inflammation.

Please remember to consult with your Physician before making any changes to your current skin care regimen, including the use of dietary or nutritional supplements.

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