Sebum is a fatty material that is produced by the sebaceous glands of the skin. When the sebaceous glands are stimulated or become overactive, they release more sebum into the follicle, where the sticky substance can mix with bacteria and dead skin cells to cause acne pimples. While acne is seen mostly as a genetic and hormonal disorder, several lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on sebum production to reduce the severity of acne symptoms.
Eat less fat and sugar. A high-fat diet increases the amount of fat in the skin and on the skin's surface. According to The McDougall Newsletter, extreme changes in dietary fat intake have been shown to greatly affect sebum production. Avoiding excess fat in the food you eat can increase healthy circulation to the skin and keep pores clear. It is also recommended to stick to natural, low-glycemic foods to prevent the insulin surges that can lead to inflammation and clogged pores.
Get more sleep. Getting enough high-quality sleep is important for several reasons. Inadequate sleep increases levels of stress hormones such as cortisol in the body. Cortisol elevates blood sugar levels, increases inflammation and stimulates sebaceous glands in the skin. All of these things contribute to acne breakouts, so for clear skin, be sure to hit the sack for at least eight hours a night.
Manage stress. Much like inadequate sleep, unmanaged stress can substantially increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as cytokines, which are inflammatory compounds. Chronic stress that remains unchecked can actually depress the adrenal glands over time, possibly leading to hypothyroidism. This condition can cause a chain reaction of hormone secretions that stimulate the sebaceous glands.
Take supplements. Several supplements and vitamins may help regulate the production of sebum and keep skin clear. According to Natural News, alpha linoleic acid, or ALA, helps reduce harmful inflammation in the body, preventing and correcting overstimulation of the sebaceous glands. Vitamin D3 also helps regulate inflammation while enhancing skin cell formation.
Try a laser treatment designed to correct oily skin. A laser treatment changes the sebaceous glands to make them less active so that they only produce enough sebum to keep skin soft and moist, and not enough to clog pores or make skin appear oily. On average, it takes two to six treatments, spaced three to four weeks apart, to notice significant results. Benjamin Barankin, MD, Toronto dermatologist, recommends laser treatments as a highly effective way to control overactive sebaceous glands.