Baking Soda for Acne
Baking soda can be made into an antiseptic solution at home to provide cleansing in the treatment of mild acne.
by Brad Chase
Acne breaks out when the nature of the skin changes. The most important changes that can trigger acne are increased oil/sebum production, increased rate of keratinization and colonization of the skin by harmful bacteria.
Acne can be reduced and even “cured” by improving skin hygiene to make the skin healthier. A proper skincare routine can be difficult to maintain especially in the adolescent years when acne is most severe.
During puberty, there is an increased production of male sex hormones called androgens.
Testosterone and its metabolites such as dihydrotestosterone are the androgens mostly responsible for acne development. These hormones change the nature of the sebaceous follicles and stimulate increased production of sebum from the sebaceous gland.
The excessive secretion of sebum is responsible for the oily nature of most skins affected by acne. The oily skin also creates an ideal growth environment for acne-causing bacteria. The most common of such bacteria is Propionibacterium acnes.
P. acnes contributes to the cycle of skin inflammation, increased sebum production and the clogging of the pores. These effects lead to the different presentations of acne such as seborrhea, comedones (whiteheads and blackheads), papules and pimples.
In severe cases of acne, hard lumps may appear on the affected area of the skin.
These are nodules and cysts. As acne lesions crust over and new ones break out, red spots and scars quickly mark the affected areas.
Therefore, acne products need to correct the underlying problems by removing the causative agents. They must also prevent the breakout of new acne spots while healing the old ones and removing the scars they form.
There are different acne products in the market and each of these is effective for some acne sufferers.
However, home remedies can also be helpful in acne treatment. Without spending so much, you can make a simple acne remedy right at home with one ingredient you already have. That ingredient is baking soda.
What is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is the common name for sodium bicarbonate.
This is a white, fine powder found in most kitchens and used as leavening agent when baking. It is also used in cooking for expanding batter and giving a characteristic texture to baked and fried foods.
Baking soda should not be confused with baking powder even though the latter is also formulated with the former, and baking soda can serve as a substitute for baking powder for certain dishes.
The most important property of baking soda in medicine is its amphoteric nature. It can be used in both acidic and alkaline environments. When dissolved in water, baking soda becomes a slightly alkaline solution. For this reason, baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a major constituent of antacids.
Its ability to neutralize acids makes it useful in the treatment of acid indigestion, metabolic acidosis, uric acid deposition and in treating the overdose of acidic drugs such as aspirin.
Oral administration of sodium bicarbonate can cause metabolic alkalosis, congestive heart failure, sodium overload, edema and hypertension.
However, its topical administration is free from these side effects.
Sodium bicarbonate is also used in mouthwashes and toothpastes. It cleanses the teeth and gums while providing an antiseptic cover and neutralizing the acid produced by the bacteria resident in the mouth.
Baking soda is also useful for treating skin irritation, itching and inflammation caused by allergic reactions to poisonous plants and insect bites.
Baking Soda and Acne
Baking soda is a simple solution for acne. It does not always work for everyone but different reports show that it is effective for most people. This is remarkable especially considering that it is easily obtained and easily applied.
Once applied, baking soda mops up oil from the skin. It removes excess sebum from the skin and can help prevent the breakout of new acne by removing dirt along with the oil.
After washing off the baking soda mask, the layer of dirt formed from dead skin cells and sebum is removed and the skin pores are opened up to be properly aerated.
When mixed with water to make a paste, baking soda essentially becomes an alkaline cleanser. It can then neutralize the acidic byproducts created by acne-causing bacteria while also stopping bacterial growth.
By increasing the pH of the skin, baking soda makes it a poor environment for microbial colonization. Coupled with its ability to reduce sebum production by removing oil from the face, baking soda can clear away most acne spots.
When baking soda is mixed with water, the reaction that results (producing the alkaline antiseptic cleanser) is endothermic. This means that baking soda has a cooling, soothing effect on the skin while it draws moisture.
There are other advantages to using this exfoliating and antiseptic home remedy apart from being inexpensive and easily obtainable.
Baking soda is gentle on the skin since it is not a harsh chemical. It is a natural remedy which is not formulated with synthetic additives.
It is fragrance-free and alcohol-free.
All of these mean that baking soda is well tolerated by most people. In a few people, it could cause excessive dryness or reddening of sensitive skins. These side effects can be overcome by applying moisturizers and reducing the time baking soda is left on the skin.
There are also concerns that baking soda may change the pH balance of the skin and that the dryness it causes may trigger a rebound effect that leads to the excessive production of sebum.
How to Use Baking Soda for Treating Acne
First, you should wash the area affected by the acne to remove accumulated dirt and/or makeup. Do not dry the skin with a towel but rather let it remain damp.
Make a paste with baking soda and a little water. Apply the paste directly on the affected area and massage it in for a few seconds. Leave the mask of baking soda paste on for 10 – 15 minutes then rinse off completely with water.
Dry your skin with a soft towel and apply a moisturizer if you have a dry or sensitive skin.
Repeat this application twice daily for at least a week to see if there is any improvement in your acne. You should stop treating your acne with baking soda if it does not improve at all or if you develop severe skin reactions to the remedy.
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