Frequently Asked Questions About Acne

Acne is a very common disease. People who have it tend to have similar kinds of questions about it and its treatment. This section addresses some of the common questions asked by people with acne. Please remember that your dermatologist is always the best source of specific information about your individual health issues, including acne.

Questions and Answer does follows:

1. What causes acne?

The causes of acne are linked to the changes that take place as young people mature from childhood to adolescence (puberty). The hormones that cause physical maturation also cause the sebaceous (oil) glands of the skin to produce more sebum (oil). The hormones with the greatest effect on sebaceous glands are androgens (male hormones), which are present in females as well as males, but in higher amounts in males.

Sebaceous glands are found together with a hair shaft in a unit called a sebaceous follicle. During puberty, the cells of the skin that line the follicle begin to shed more rapidly. In people who develop acne, cells shed and stick together more so than in people who do not develop acne. When cells mix with the increased amount of sebum being produced, they can plug the opening of the follicle. Meanwhile, the sebaceous glands continue to produce sebum, and the follicle swells up with sebum.

In addition, a normal skin bacteria called P. acnes, begins to multiply rapidly in the clogged hair follicle. In the process, these bacteria produce irritating substances that can cause inflammation. Sometimes, the wall of the follicle bursts, spreading inflammation to the surrounding skin. This is the process by which acne lesions, from blackheads to pimples to nodules, are formed.

2. I wash my face several times a day. Why do I still get acne?

Many people still believe that acne is caused by dirty skin. The truth is, washing alone will not clear up or prevent acne. Washing does, however, help remove excess surface oils and dead skin cells. Many people use all kinds of products, including alcohol-based cleansers, and scrub vigorously, only to irritate the skin further and worsen their acne. Washing the skin twice a day gently with water and a mild soap is usually all that is required. However, acne is actually caused by a variety of biologic factors that are beyond the control of washing. For that reason, you should use appropriate acne treatments for the acne.

3. Does stress cause acne?

Stress is commonly blamed for the development of acne. Stress can have many physiologic effects on the body, including changes in hormones that may theoretically lead to acne. In some cases the stress may actually be caused by the acne lesions, not the other way around! If the acne is being treated effectively, stress is not likely to have much impact on the majority of people.

4. I never had acne as a teenager. Why am I now getting acne as an adult?

Usually, acne begins at puberty and is gone by the early 20s. In some cases, acne may persist into adulthood. Such types of acne include severe forms that affect the body as well as the face (which afflict males more than females) and acne associated with the menstrual cycle in women. In other cases, acne may not present itself until adulthood. Such acne is more likely to affect females than males.

There are several reasons for this. As females get older, the pattern of changes in hormones may itself change, disposing sebaceous glands to develop acne. Ovarian cysts and pregnancy may also cause hormonal changes that lead to acne. Some women get acne when they discontinue birth control pills that have been keeping acne at bay. Sometimes young women may wear cosmetics that are comedogenic-that is, they can set up conditions that cause comedones to form.

5. What role does diet play in acne?

Acne is not caused by food. Following a strict diet will not, clear your skin. While some people feel that their acne is aggravated by certain foods, particularly chocolate, colas, peanuts, shellfish and some fatty foods, there is no scientific evidence that suggests food causes or influences acne. Avoid any foods which seem to worsen your acne and, for your overall health, eat a balanced diet-but diet shouldn’t really matter if the acne is being appropriately treated.

6. Does the sun help acne?

Many patients feel that sunlight improves their acne lesions and go to great lengths to find sources of ultraviolet light. There is no proven effect of sunlight on acne. In addition, ultraviolet light in sunlight increases the risk of skin cancer and early aging of the skin. It is, therefore, not a recommended technique of acne management, especially since there are many other proven forms of treatment for acne. Moreover, many acne treatments increase the skin’s sensitivity to ultraviolet light, making the risk of ultraviolet light exposure all the worse.

7. What is the best way to treat acne?

Everyone’s acne must be treated individually. If you have not gotten good results from the acne products you have tried, consider seeing a dermatologist. Your dermatologist will decide which treatments are best for you. For more information about the types of acne treatments that are available, and for basic acne treatment guidelines, please see Acne Treatments in the main part of AcneNet.

8. What kind of cosmetics and cleansers can an acne patient use?

Look for “noncomedogenic” cosmetics and toiletries. These products have been formulated so that they will not cause acne.

Some acne medications cause irritation or pronounced dryness particularly during the early weeks of therapy, and some cosmetics and cleansers can actually worsen this effect. The choice of cosmetics and cleansers should be made with your dermatologist or pharmacist.

Heavy foundation makeup should be avoided. Most acne patients should select powder blushes and eye shadow over cream products because they are less irritating and noncomedogenic. Camouflaging techniques can be used effectively by applying a green undercover cosmetic over red acne lesions to promote color blending.

9. Is it harmful to squeeze my blemishes?

Yes. In general, acne lesions should not be picked or squeezed by the patient. In particular, inflammatory acne lesions should never be squeezed. Squeezing forces infected material deeper into the skin, causing additional inflammation and possible scarring.

1. Can anything be done about scarring caused by acne?

Scarring is best prevented by getting rid of the acne. Dermatologists can use various methods to improve the scarring caused by acne. The treatment must always be individualized for the specific patient. Chemical peels may be used in some patients, while dermabrasion or laser abrasion may benefit others. It is important that the acne be well controlled before any procedure is used to alleviate scarring.

2. How long before I see a visible result from using my acne medication?

The time for improvement depends upon the product being used, but in almost all cases it is more a matter of weeks or months instead of days. Most dermatologists would recommend the use of a medication or combination of medications daily for 4 to 8 weeks before they would change the treatment. It is very important for patients to be aware of this time frame so they do not become discouraged and discontinue their medications. Conversely, if you see no change whatsoever, you might want to check with your dermatologist regarding the need to change treatments.

3. Would using my medication more frequently than prescribed speed up the clearing of my acne?

No-always use your medication exactly as your dermatologist instructed. Using topical medications more often than prescribed may actually induce more irritation of the skin, redness and follicular plugging, which can delay clearing time. If oral medications are taken more frequently than prescribed, they won’t work any better, but there is a greater chance of side effects.

4. My topical treatment seems to work on the spots I treat, but I keep getting new acne blemishes. What should I do?

Topical acne medications are made to be used on all acne-prone areas, not just individual lesions. Part of the goal is to treat the skin before lesions can form and to prevent formation, not just to treat existing lesions. Patients are generally advised to treat all of the areas (forehead, cheeks, chin and nose) that tend to break out rather than just individual lesions.

5. My face is clear! Can I stop taking my medication now?

If your dermatologist says you can stop, then stop-but follow your dermatologist’s instructions. Many times patients will stop their medication suddenly only to have their acne flare up several weeks later. If you are using multiple products, it may be advisable to discontinue one medication at a time and judge results before discontinuing them all at once. Ask your dermatologist before you stop using any of your medications.

6. Does it matter what time I use my medication?

Check with your dermatologist or pharmacist. If you were taking one dose a day of an antibiotic, you could probably take it in the morning, at midday or in the evening, although you should pick one time of day and stay with it throughout your treatment. With oral medications prescribed twice a day or three times a day, you should try your best to spread out the doses evenly. Some antibiotics should be taken on an empty or nearly empty stomach. For optimal results with topical treatments, you should strictly follow your dermatologist’s recommendations. For example, if instructed to apply benzoyl peroxide in the morning and a topical retinoid at bedtime, it is important to follow these directions strictly. If the two were applied together at bedtime, for example, you could decrease the efficacy of the treatment because of chemical reactions that make them less effective.

7. I have trouble remembering to take my oral medication every day. What’s a good way to remember? What should I do if I forget a dose?

This is a common problem. Many patients try to associate taking their medication with a routine daily event such as brushing teeth or applying makeup. It also helps to keep the medication close to the area where the reminder activity is carried out.

In most cases, if you miss a day of your oral treatment, do not double up the next day; rather, get back to your daily regimen as soon as possible-but there may be different instructions for different oral medications. Ask your dermatologist or pharmacist about what to do if you miss a dose of your particular medication.

8. I have been using topical benzoyl peroxide and an oral antibiotic for my acne and have noticed blue-black and brown marks developing on my face and some discoloration on my body. The marks are especially noticeable around acne scars and recently healed lesions. Is this a side effect of medication and is it permanent?

It is not possible to make general statements about side effects of medications that apply to individual cases. A dermatologist should be consulted. The facial marks and body discoloration described by the patient in this case do fall within the range of side effects of some antibiotics.

Unique patterns of pigmentation are sometimes seen in acne patients treated with certain oral antibiotics-particularly minocycline. The pigmentation patterns that appear may include:
* Localized blue-black or brown marks in and around acne scars and in areas of previous acne inflammation

* A “muddy skin” appearance that may cover much of the body

* Diffuse brownish pigmentation of the feet and lower legs.

The pigmentation side effect gradually disappears after the therapy is discontinued.

Any side effect of a medication should be noted by the patient and brought to the attention of the physician. While most side effects are temporary they should be discussed with the physician and monitored.

1. My doctor is prescribing a topical retinoid for my acne. He said a retinoid is a substance related to vitamin A. If the drug is related to vitamin A, shouldn’t vitamin A dietary supplements be helpful in getting rid of acne?

Dietary vitamin A is essential to good health, especially vision. It has healthful effects in the skin. Large doses of vitamin A for the treatment of acne is not recommended on grounds of safety. The retinoids and retinoid-like substances used as topical treatments for acne are prepared especially for their potent effect on the shedding of cell lining in the sebaceous follicle. Their use should be monitored by a dermatologist.

Dietary vitamin A has multiple health effects in the human body. Vitamin A is essential for good vision. Extreme vitamin A deficiency can result in blindness, usually accompanied by dry, scaly skin. Vitamin A overdose that far exceeds the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 5,000 IU can have effects nearly as catastrophic. Extreme vitamin A overdose can cause the skin to blister and peel-an effect first seen in early North Pole explorers who nearly died after eating polar bear liver that has an extraordinarily high vitamin A content.

Topical retinoids are usually prescribed as a treatment for moderate to severe acne. Side effects are chiefly dermatologic, including redness, scaling and dryness of the skin, itching and burning. These side effects can usually be managed by adjustment of the amount and timing of retinoid applied to the skin. Dose adjustment must be discussed with the dermatologist who prescribed the treatment.

2. Are there any acne treatments specifically for people with dark skin? Are there any treatments specifically harmful to dark skin?

There are no acne treatments specifically for use on dark skin. Acne treatments are generally as safe and effective on dark skin as on light skin. Some treatments for acne scars may cause temporary lightening of dark skin.

Acne is a common skin disease that has the same causes and follows the same course in all colors of skin.

Very dark or black skin may be less well-moisturized than lighter skin. Topical anti-acne agents such as benzoyl peroxide that have a drying effect on the skin should be used under the supervision of a dermatologist. Benzoyl peroxide also is a strong bleach and therefore must be applied carefully to avoid inadvertent decolorization of a patch of hair, towels or clothing.

Darker skin has a tendency to develop post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (excessive skin darkening at places where the skin was inflamed). Severe inflammatory acne may result in dark spots. The spots resolve over time; a dermatologist may be able to recommend cosmetic measures to make the spots less apparent until they resolve. Some acne treatments, such as topical retinoids and azelaic acid, may also help fade the discoloration.

Removal of acne scars by dermabrasion or chemical peeling may cause temporary lightening or darkening of dark skin in the areas of treatment. Scar treatment should be discussed with a dermatologist or dermatologic surgeon before it is undertaken.

Alterations of melanin (dark pigments that give the skin its color) pigmentation such as vitiligo and melasma are not related to acne, but they may be present simultaneously with acne. The diagnosis and treatment of melanin pigmentation disorders such as vitiligo requires a dermatologist with knowledge and experience in treating these conditions.

3. Is acne that appears for the first time in adulthood different from acne that appears in adolescence?

Acne has a specific definition as a disease of sebaceous follicles. This definition applies to acne that occurs at any age. However, it may be important to look for an underlying cause of acne that occurs for the first time in adulthood.

Current understanding of the causes of acne vulgaris is described in the Main Text section Why and how acne happens. In brief summary, acne vulgaris develops when excessive sebum production and abnormal growth and death of cells in the sebaceous follicle result in plugging of follicles with a mixture of sebum and cellular debris and formation of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads). Bacteria in the follicles-chiefly Propionibacterium acnes, the most common bacterial colonist of sebaceous follicles-may contribute to the inflammation of acne by release of metabolic products that cause inflammatory reaction. The pathogenic events, which cause disease, in the sebaceous follicle are believed to be due in large degree to changes in levels of androgenic (male) hormones in the body-a circumstance usually associated with growth and development between ages 12 and

4. Some acne investigators believe that although this understanding is generally correct, there is more yet to be learned about the causes of acne vulgaris.

Acne that appears after the age of 25-30 years is (1) a recurrence of acne that cleared up after adolescence, (2) a flare-up of acne after a period of relative quiet-for example, during pregnancy, or (3) acne that occurs for the first time in a person who had never previously had acne.

Acne that occurs in adulthood may be difficult to treat if there are multiple recurrences. Some patients with severe recurrent acne have undergone repeated courses of treatment with the potent systemic drug isotretinoin.

Acne flares in association with pregnancy or menstruation are due to changes in hormonal patterns.

Acne that appears for the first time in adulthood should be investigated for any underlying cause. Drugs that can induce acne include anabolic steroids (sometimes used illegally by athletes to “bulk up”), some anti-epileptic drugs, the anti-tuberculosis drugs isoniazid and rifampin, lithium, and iodine-containing drugs. Chlorinated industrial chemicals may induce the occupational skin disorder known as chloracne. Chronic physical pressure on the skin-for example, by a backpack and its straps, or a violin tucked against the angle of the jaw and chin-may induce so-called acne mechanica. Some metabolic conditions may cause changes in hormonal balance that can induce acne.

Some lesions that appear to be acne may be another skin disorder such as folliculitis-infection and inflammation of hair follicles-that require different treatment than acne. Acne that appears for the first time in adulthood should be examined and treated by a dermatologist.

5. My 15-year-old daughter has what I would describe as a very mild case of acne. She has made it much worse by constant picking and squeezing. She looks in the mirror for hours, looking for some blackhead or blemish she can pick or squeeze. Does she need psychological counseling?

Excessive picking and squeezing of otherwise mild acne is a condition called excoriated acne, seen most often in young women. A dermatologist may provide effective counseling.

The typical person with excoriated acne is a person-often a young women-who is so distressed with her appearance due to acne that she literally tries to “squeeze the acne out of existence.” The acne is often very mild, but the person’s face may constantly be covered with red marks from squeezing, and open sores where lesions have been picked open.

The word excoriate means to scratch or abrade the skin. Excoriated acne is a medically recognized condition that should be discussed with a dermatologist. Occasionally giving in to a temptation to squeeze a blackhead is not defined as excoriated acne. Hours in front of a mirror, squeezing and picking every blemish, is a definition of excoriated acne. A dermatologist may be able to counsel the patient regarding a course of treatment in which the patient can participate, but keep “hands off.”

6. Can the rate of secretion or the composition of sebum be altered by diet? If it can, shouldn’t alteration of diet be considered a treatment for acne?

Diet has never been proven to have a role in the cause or treatment of acne. Dietary manipulation may have a role in the treatment of some scaling diseases of the skin, but not in the treatment of acne.

Dietary cause is one of the most persistent myths about acne. Foods, such as chocolate or greasy foods, do not cause acne, but certain foods seem to make some people’s acne worse. The following can bring on or worsen it:

*Hereditary factors

*An increase in male hormones found in both males and females

*Menstruation

*Emotional stress

*Oil and grease from cosmetics, work environment

No food has been shown to be effective in preventing or treating acne. A healthy diet is, of course, necessary for good general health.

7. Shouldn’t I just try to eliminate sebum from my body?

No. When it isn’t blocked in your pores, sebum helps keep your skin healthy.

8. Why does acne usually start at puberty?

No one knows for certain. What is known is that the sebaceous glands that produce sebum get much larger at puberty than they were before.

9. Why does the skin around a pimple turn red?

This redness is caused by the body’s inflammatory response. Inflammation is a sign that your immune system is working to fight an infection. However, the inflammatory response doesn’t always work perfectly, and can even be the cause of scarring.

10. If my skin turns red, does that mean that I’m going to have scars?

Usually, no. Even when there will be no permanent scar, the aftereffects of the inflammatory response can leave the skin red for months, sometimes for more than a year.

11. What are free radicals?

Free radicals are byproducts of oxidation in your body. We all need oxidation to occur as part of our life process, but there is concern that the buildup of unrecycled free radicals contributes to many conditions, including skin damage. Antioxidants, including several of the active ingredients in Acuzine, help prevent the buildup of free radicals.

You Need Aerobics Cardio Exercise

If you’re carrying around some pounds you want to get rid of, then you need to do some cardio exercise for weight loss. If that sounds horrifying, don’t worry. There are many forms of cardio exercise that you’re sure to enjoy.

If you’ve not been exercising or doing any form of cardio exercise for a long time, you might feel really intimidated by the idea of starting. But you shouldn’t be. Cardio exercise can be something as simple as taking a brisk walk.

You don’t have to buy tights and leg warmers. There is no requirement as far as fashion or equipment to start out doing some good weight loss cardio. You don’t even need an exercise DVD. Step out your door and walk briskly for about 20 to 30 minutes, or as long as you’re comfortable at first.

If you’d like to try something besides walking, aerobic dancing is a good choice. You can just dance around your living room, but an exercise DVD is a good way to do it. You can find DVDs that will let you do basic dancing moves. Or you can choose a weight loss DVD of salsa dancing or belly dancing, and almost any kind of dancing you think you’d enjoy.

Cycling, swimming, hiking, and any type of activity that gets your heart rate and your breathing up are aerobic activities. That means it’s a cardio workout. Doing any of these things for at least 30 minutes four times a week is a great way to use cardio to lose weight. It

Specifically for weight loss though, the best thing to do is to change up your exercise routine. If you start taking brisk walks for five times a week, that’s wonderful. It will help you lose weight and it’s good for your body. But you can lose weight even more efficiently and build your endurance more efficiently if you vary your routine.

Instead of just walking, try to also incorporate jogging or running. Walk for a few minutes, and then run for a little while to get some cardio work in. You can time the sessions or you can just do it as you feel it. This is called circuit training.

If you’re cycling for cardio exercise, cycle at a leisurely pace for a few minutes and then go very quickly. If you’re on an exercise bike, cycle at a normal pace for a while and then spin like mad. The same goes for any exercise that you do. If you’re walking or cycling, using hills for this type of thing is wonderful.

You can also circuit training in another sense. Choose brisk walking one day, and then the next go for cycling or aerobic dancing. You can easily get into a rut doing the same thing every time.

Doing the same type of exercise is better than nothing, and it’s wonderful. But if you can change it up a little bit, the cardio exercise for weight loss that you do will be more effective.

What Causes Driving Phobia Is Less Important Than Its Solution

Human phobias, which are generally defined as an intense, irrational fear of an object, place, or event, are mysterious. They are very common – experts believe at least 1 in 10 people will develop a phobia at some point in their lives. Yet it’s often unclear WHY they develop.

Phobias are fears, and fear is a normal part of life. Fear is a good thing in many cases. It’s good to be afraid of things that really can hurt us, like certain insects, dangerous animals, or falling off cliffs. But the human mind can fixate on some fears and over-exaggerate them out of proportion to their actual danger.

Being afraid of something (even something irrational) is not in and of itself a phobia. A phobia is formed when we anticipate danger and begin to avoid places and situations we associate with that danger. So a phobia is irrational fear PLUS habitual avoidance.

The 2 Main Ways Phobias Develop

Phobias tend to either develop gradually with no definable cause, or suddenly as a response to a traumatic event.

In the case of driving phobia, some sufferers report their fear came on gradually, steadily becoming worse over time. This type of phobia usually has no apparent cause and is often a simple misfire between the brain and the feelings / nervous system. Driving somehow becomes associated with danger, even though nothing dangerous actually happened.

Some people develop driving phobia as a direct response to trauma; things like car accidents, bodily injury, injury to other drivers, property damage etc. It’s more obvious why the person associates driving with danger in these cases.

This type of phobia is a result of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is lingering fear that hangs on even after a tramatic event is over and resolved. The tricky thing about PTSD-related phobias is that they’re not, strictly speaking, irrational.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you do have some real cause to be afraid of driving. Driving actually can be a dangerous activity. The tough part is teasing out how much of your fear is rational vs. over-exaggerated. How dangerous is driving really?

So You Have Driving Phobia. Now What?

Whether your driving phobia is gradual or is a result of PTSD, I’m sorry. I sympathize, because I’ve also suffered with this phobia. It can be a tough thing to live with.

The good news is that phobias respond well to treatment. Treatment options for driving phobia (or any other) include:

Cognative Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Hypnosis
Gradual Exposure Therapy
Meditation
Self Help

Which Solution is Right for You?

In a way, it doesn’t matter how you choose to treat your phobia… as long as you take action and are serious about wanting to change. If you approach it sincerely and with a real desire to change, chances are that you will see significant improvement. And of course the opposite is also true.

If you’re brand-new to phobia and have no experience with anxiety treatment, I recommend you choose a good anxiety treatment therapist. You may need guidance early on in your anxiety recovery.

Those experienced treating and living with other phobias may find that learning meditation or using self-help resources is enough to successfully treat driving phobia. Keep in mind that self-help alone is often not enough for many people, especially if you’re inexperienced.

Treating Phobias Focuses More on Solutions Than Causes

Whatever caused your driving phobia, treating it successfully means learning new here-and-now skills. It will probably not be necessary to spend much time re-hashing the past.

Modern anxiety treatment methods are about retraining your brain, nervous system, and emotions to judge and respond more appropriately to actual dangers instead of perceived ones.

Mental Health Maintenance Is Made Simple

Your mental health is often drastically improved when you use the techniques Dr. Kuhn teaches in this article. When you are able to experience this improvement, your relationships blossom, career paths open, and people find you attractive and accessible. You deserve to have fun and joy in your life – and Cliff Kuhn, M.D. will help you do that.

In the classic Frank Capra film, It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey’s mental health is overwhelmed by the difficulties of his life and he wishes he’d never been born. George’s guardian angel grants his wish and takes him to a grim reality as it would’ve been without him. George feels nothing when he reaches into his coat pocket to retrieve the flower his daughter, Zuzu, placed there – and that’s when George knows that his wish has come true…he’s never been born.

Wishing she had never been born, Roberta became my patient, seeking desperately to improve her mental health. Like the fictional George Bailey character, Roberta’s depression and anxiety had grown so strong as to threaten her ability to lead any semblance of a normal life. Fortunately for Roberta, she soon discovered exactly why the natural medicine of humor is one of the most powerful adjunctive treatments for improving mental health, because humor literally pours water on the fire of depression and anxiety.

Roberta is not alone. As many as 35% of all Americans suffer from depression and anxiety, the twins that make mental health elusive for millions. Your depression and anxiety is exacerbated by your seriousness – taking yourself too seriously. As we move into adulthood, we unfortunately buy into the notion that responsible and productive people must be “serious.” As we make the biggest mistake of our lives and relegate our humor nature and fun to recreational activities (if we experience fun at all), we doom ourselves to all the symptoms of the corresponding seriousness that fills the void – declining health, rising stress, increased pain, lessened energy, impaired creativity, and more.

The good news for your mental health, however, is that we know how to shrink your deadly seriousness to practically nothing and reduce almost completely the sway it holds over your health, vitality, wellness, and zest. The natural medicine of humor is an incredibly powerful resource that you already possess; you’ve only forgotten how to use it to maximum effectiveness. You will soon discover that, while not a panacea, the natural medicine of humor is a tremendous tonic for depression or anxiety and will also supercharge other treatments because it is an amazing adjunctive medicine too!

I have distilled the natural medicine of humor, through my years of medical practice, into an amazing prescription I call The Fun Factor. Based on what I learned over twenty years ago from a terminally ill fifteen-year-old patient, I created a unique set of principles I call the Fun Commandments, then forged these Commandments into my Fun Factor prescription and have been prescribing The Fun Factor with great success for years. This report will show you how to use just three of my Fun Commandments to turn your mental health around, and gain new joy, pleasure, and appreciation from your life!

Improve Your Mental Health Using My Fun Factor Prescription

Step One: Always Go the Extra Smile

The first Fun Commandment I recommend for improved mental health is: Always Go the Extra Smile. This Commandment is doubly helpfully for depression and anxiety because not only does it provide measurable emotional and physical relief, but it also is completely under your control – regardless of your circumstances. Because smiling remains totally under your control, it can be your greatest resource for using humor’s natural medicine to accelerate your mental health.

Smiling produces measurable physical benefits you can experience immediately: your stress decreases, your immunity improves, your pain and frustration tolerances increase, and your creativity soars. And guess what? You experience all these benefits even if your smile is “fake.” That’s right…forcing a smile onto your face perks up your immune system and lightens your mood just as readily as a genuine smile. Fake a smile and you’ll soon feel well enough to wear a real one!

This is great news for your proactive stance on sustainable mental health. You have an amazing amount of pre-emptive control over your mood – you can, literally, choose more energy and happiness. The key for your use of this Fun Commandment in enhancing your mental health is to start practicing right now, so that smiling becomes an entrenched, habitual method of accessing the natural medicine of humor. If you wait to smile until your mental health has taken a turn for the worse, and depression or anxiety has taken hold of you, it will not be as effective.

Step Two: Act and Interact

Smiling leads us right into the second Fun Commandment you’ll find instrumental in maintaining your mental health: Act and Interact. Humor’s natural medicine works best when we are sharing ourselves and this Commandment will teach you how to capitalize on the control you’ve taken over your physiology and mood by smiling. Acting and interacting is now easier for you to do because you’re smiling more. Not only is your mood improved, but your smile is also a pleasant invitation to other people.

My suggestion is that you solidify the power of this Commandment by setting a reasonable goal regarding the number of people you will interact with each day. These social interactions are great for your mental health, forcing you to exchange information and ideas with another person. Combined with your commitment to smiling, your interactions should be pleasant, because your heightened energy, lessened pain, and lowered stress levels are very attractive to others.

Beyond keeping you out of isolation, there is another reason why acting and interacting with the people you encounter fosters improved mental health. It allows you to avoid spiritual “flat tires.” Spiritual flat tires occur when you sidestep, or avoid, an interaction that is about to happen naturally – you duck into an office to avoid encountering someone in a hallway or you don’t answer the phone because you don’t want to talk to the person calling. This type of avoidance drains and deletes your reservoir of powerful natural energy and siphons your mental health reserves.

Have you ever noticed that it usually takes you twice as much mental and physical energy to avoid doing a job than you would have expended just doing it? It also takes twice the energy to avoid acting and interacting with the people who cross your path because you are, in effect, saying, “I’m going to correct the mistake that nature made by putting this person in my path and I’m going to correct it by being mentally and spiritually negligent.” Mental and spiritual negligence have the same effect as physical negligence (isn’t it strange how you get tired if you don’t exercise?). If your mental health can afford to allow this much energy to be drained, then you have a much bigger reservoir than I!

But spiritual flat tires do more than drain our energy, they are detrimental in at least two additional ways:

We miss out on an interaction with a teacher. If nature didn’t have a lesson for you, that person you just avoided would not have been placed in your path. You say that the person you just avoided was a negative influence or would’ve wasted your time? I know we have legitimate schedules to keep, but if I am avoiding people based on my prejudgment of them, I’m cutting myself off from my greatest teachers – those very same people.
We all learn tolerance from the intolerant, patience from the impatient, temperance from the intemperate, gentleness from the ruffian, etc. I am supremely grateful for those teachers and the lessons they give me.

We create a small, nagging spiritual void of dishonesty, the kind of dishonesty that keeps us from laying our heads down with complete peace of mind each night. Our spiritual flat tire is caused by the pothole our avoidance created; it is a natural consequence, or symptom, of our spiritual dishonesty. These consequences clutter our lives with mental and emotional baggage that further drains us of our energy and vitality.

Step Three: Celebrate Everything

The third Fun Commandment which will help you use the natural medicine of humor to charge up your mental health is: Celebrate Everything. Celebrating everything may sound like a monumental task to someone who’s mental health isn’t up to par, but you will find this part of my doctor’s orders much easier to fulfill once you start practicing my first two Commandments. In fact, celebrating everything is more than a maintenance step providing sustainable mental health. It will also become your lifestyle, the more you practice it, because you will enjoy the results so much.

How do you celebrate everything and how will this keep your mental health on the upswing? The epitome of this Commandment is found in the old joke about the boy who wanted a pony for his birthday. Instead, he found a room full of manure waiting for him. But he dove right into the dung, gleefully exclaiming, “With all this manure, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Laugh as we might, we’re quick to remember that, as adults, we would never allow ourselves such “naive” enthusiasm. Why not? Do you realize what is behind such a “grown up,” “mature” decision? Your deadly seriousness (taking yourself too seriously) encourages the attitude that a mature adult should not let herself be so optimistic and thus mental health is jeopardized.

We could do more than chuckle at this birthday boy’s unabashed optimism – we should emulate it! When was the last time you encountered an unexpected pile of manure in your life? You had absolutely no control over the mess, right? But you had absolute control over your reaction to it and this is the key to using celebration to keep your mental health improved!

When you celebrate everything, the natural medicine of humor creates spiritual, emotional, and mental health like nothing you’ve felt before. You will find that your fears become much less controlling when you are celebrating everything because it no longer matters so much how things turn out. In fact, you are literally ready for anything because you are prepared to find the blessing in whatever happens.

My daughter-in-law, for example, broke her back last year. My son, who is often my model for the embodiment of my Fun Commandments, can tick off a laundry list of blessings his family has received as a direct result of his wife’s “tragedy.” Not that his mental health hasn’t been challenged, but faced with the choice of depression and anxiety over an event he couldn’t control versus finding the blessings waiting for him, he has chosen the latter.

The choice to celebrate everything is not a panacea; my son’s choice did not change the reality of his wife’s injury. What did change, however, was his ability to respond to the injury and, thus, keep his mental health on an even keel. Celebrating everything changes our lives because it allows us to positively control the only things we have control over – our actions, ideas, and attitudes.

There you have it. Start by going the extra smile, use your newfound smiling energy and vitality to act and interact with people, and celebrate everything to maintain your positive momentum. Say good-bye to imprisonment from depression and anxiety and welcome to your new world of improved mental health!
Start Using The Fun Factor to Improve Your Mental Health…Right Now

Here are some simple, easy steps you can take right now to turbo-charge your mental health.

Subscribe to my Fun Times newsletter. The Fun Times is all about using your natural power of humor to increase the quality of your life – including your mental health. The Fun Times is 100% free, and is delivered instantly, every week, to your email inbox. If you sign up now, I’ll also throw in a copy of my “Stop Your Seriousness” Ecourse and my book, Ten Ways You Can Be Happier…Right Now! which will show you how you can use my Fun Factor prescription in your life to increase your mental health!

Check out The Fun Factor. This prescription has changed so many lives for the better – it would be a shame if you passed it up. Check it out here if you’re sick of wishing for mental health and want to finally achieve your greatest mental health!
My patient Roberta, by the way, learned to use these three Fun Commandments – and the rest of my Fun Factor prescription. She has enjoyed the same job for three years now and was recently engaged to be married. Roberta occasionally has setbacks, as most people suffering from depression or anxiety do. But, her mental health has never been stronger as she continues to apply The Fun Factor to her life.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is so shocked by the grim vision of a world without him that he decides he wants to live again and begs to return. He knows he is back when he finds Zuzu’s flower petals in his coat pocket again.

Tips to Lower Your Pricey Dental Care Cost

Getting cosmetic dentistry and dental treatment in several parts of the world, specifically in wealthy countries of the developed world, can be extremely expensive, regardless of whether you have access to any form of dental coverage.

In a survey (1999-2004), it has been revealed by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that 3.75% of adults between the age of 20 and 64 have no remaining teeth. As of 2010, nearly 45 million Americans lacked dental insurance, according to the US federal agency CDC’s statistics.

Many middle-income and uninsured people avoid their dentist appointments due to high costs than pain. But delaying needed dental treatment or check up can put them at an increased risk of facing costlier and more extensive dental work in the long run. Understandably, the oral and dental problems can worsen an individual’s oral health if not attended to immediately.

If you are in need of any kind of dental treatment or surgery but are scared of the heavy dentist bill, by following some useful tips you can save money on your dental care.

Mentioned below are some useful tips to lower the costs of dental treatments for insured and uninsured alike.

Dental Tourism
Dental care could be highly cost prohibitive in several wealthy countries like US, Canada, Australia, the UK and other EU countries.

Compared to the US and European countries, all common dental makeover procedures including veneers, tooth colored fillings, bleaching as well as more complex treatments including orthodontic or surgical treatments like dental implant, bridges, crowns, sealants and tooth bonding can be found at surprisingly lower costs in developing and some newly industrialized countries like India, Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Hungary and Belgium, due to the lower living costs and labor wages.

So, instead of delaying your medically necessary dental treatment you can look for inexpensive alternatives in any cheaper country of your choice.

Say No to Frequent X-rays
Your dentist might suggest dental x-ray during your first visit, a scheduled checkup, or a return for treatment. But the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that the frequency of trips to the dentist’s X-ray chair should be determined by the current condition of a patient’s dental health.

So, if you have good oral health, it is just not necessary to have dental x-rays taken every time you visit the dentist. Having teeth x-rayed less frequently can not only save you substantial amount of money but also keep you from potentially harmful radiation exposure from dental X-rays.

Use Negotiation
Another way to keep your dental treatment cost down is to talk to your dental surgeon about payment options during the initial consultation. After having clear understanding of what will and will not be included in the dentist bill you may ask for discount on the dental bill. Your dental care provider and facility may offer you a variety of payment options. Don’t be afraid of asking to pay your dentistry expenses on monthly or quarterly basis.

Barter
It may sound crazy, but you can get free dentistry through the bartering system. Patients with different skills and professional services like carpentry or web design can trade their services for the dental treatment. For example, one can create a Web site for your dentist or offer plumbing, mechanic or any other service in exchange to the dental care costs.

Seek Out Dentistry in a Dental School
To super-size your dental care savings, consider having your dental work done at a dental school, where the dental procedures will be performed by students under the supervision of the qualified and skilled dentists at a fraction of what you would pay in a private care center.

Brush and Floss Everyday
Most importantly, if you really want to save money you need to take very good care of your oral health. Brush your teeth twice a day or after every meal and floss at least once daily to ward off your risk of oral problems. Cut down on your sugary intake in order to reduce your dental problems, thus your time in the dentist’s chair.