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5 Acne Treatments from Home
Mild acne can be treated at home. Before buying acne medications and skincare products, consider these 5 acne treatments at home.
Acne can well be treated at home by some affordable and commonplace remedies. These home treatment options can be effective for mild to moderate acne, and also serve to improve the results of conventional acne medications.
Understanding how acne develops is the first step in determining which home treatment may help improve its symptoms.
There are two main causes of acne. These are hormonal imbalance and microbial colonization of the skin. Other causes, such as hereditary, stress, diet and drugs, only promote these two root causes.
Often both of the two root causes are present and reinforce each other to worsen an acne breakout. For example, when male sex hormones are increasingly secreted in the endocrine system, they cause the enlargement of the sebaceous glands and excessive production of sebum.
The excess sebum gets to the skin and serves as food source for acne-causing bacteria.
These bacteria then injure the sebaceous units and directly promote the inflammatory reaction that leads to such inflammatory acne lesions such as pimples, nodules and cysts.
The bacteria also break down the keratin in the outer layer of the cell. Therefore, the skin becomes covered with dead skin cells which are shed at an alarming rate.
With increasing colonization of the skin by these bacteria, the skin pores get clogged by a mixture of sebum, dead skin cells and bacteria. Clogging the pores causes the appearance of acne comedones such as whiteheads and blackheads.
There are different approaches to preventing or reducing acne breakouts.
Some acne remedies increase the sloughing off dead skin cells through their microdermabrasion effect; some provide a deep cleansing action to remove excess sebum and open up skin pores; some constrict these pores and prevent them from easily getting clogged up; and some kill off the acne-causing bacteria living on the skin.
Still, other acne remedies work inside the body. Some of them modulate the immune response that leads to inflammation so that they can prevent the formation of inflammatory acne nodules; others, however, correct the hormonal balance that starts the acne chain reaction by reducing the production and interconversion of male sex hormones such testosterone and its metabolites.
Home remedies do take some time to produce desirable effects and some of them only have supportive roles in acne treatment. The most important home treatment options for acne are discussed below.
Water is essential for life and since the body is mostly made out of water, water is an important driver of biochemical processes and bodily functions.
The role of water in acne treatment is supportive. Even though some promote water as an acne remedy by advising 8 glasses of water daily, water does not actively address the root causes of acne.
However, water is a lot preferable to soda drinks and alcohol which can cause acne. In addition, water helps with the detoxification of the body by promoting the elimination of toxins. Detoxification can improve acne symptoms by preventing toxins from damaging the skin and disrupting cellular metabolism.
Water is also useful for preventing dehydration. It can help keep the skin supple and healthy so that it can withstand the effects of toxins and bacterial actions.
However, not all water is beneficial to acne sufferers. Chlorinated, tap water may introduce toxins into the body and trigger acne in the long run. In addition, hard water makes it difficult for soaps and cleansers to effectively work on the skin. Therefore, these types of water should be avoided.
Hot water or steam, on the other hand, can provide immediate benefits in acne treatment.
Steam helps open up the pores of the skin and remove the sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells clogging them. It can also help carry the active ingredients of herbs and other botanicals deep into the skin where they can produce their healing effects.
New research evidences have established that the food we eat can have profound effects on our skin.
Some foods can trigger acne. These foods are usually the ones that provide high glycemic loads and those that introduce growth hormones into the body.
Sugars and high carb diets can cause insulin levels to spike. When it is increasingly produced, insulin triggers the secretion of more sebum in the skin.
Milk and dairy products cause acne because of the hormones contained in them. Such hormones include insulin-like growth factor 1 or IGF-1 and male sex hormones such as androgens. The source of these hormones can either be the synthetic ones fed to the animal or hormones natively produced by the animal.
However, just as some foods can cause acne so others can help prevent it.
Foods rich in vitamins A, C, D, E and B complex can help improve acne. Such food items include fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, meat and even food supplements.
Most of these vitamins are antioxidants that can help protect the skin from damage by reactive oxygen species and other free radicals. Some vitamins also possess anti-inflammatory and even antimicrobial properties.
However, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, high doses of vitamins B6 and B12 have been shown to cause acne.
Vitamins are not the only active ingredients in foods that can help combat acne. Minerals are also important. For example, selenium is a highly potent antioxidant and zinc produces some antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Lastly, Omega 3 fatty acids are important food-sourced acne remedies. They are mostly obtained from oily fish and fish oils but also from plant oils such as palm oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil.
The Omega 3 fatty acids effective in acne treatment are EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). They help reduce skin inflammation and also make the skin healthy.
Special diets can also help improve acne symptoms.
While these also qualify as foods, they are grouped differently because they employ the principle of exclusion to reduce acne breakouts. This means that special diets are strictly regulated restricted dietary plans that are adopted to make us healthier.
There are two types of special diets. There is the shock, short-term detox diets and the lifestyle diets such as paleo diet and raw food diet.
Detox diets only take a few days and are usually finished within two weeks. They encourage the ingestion of water and only one unrefined, unprocessed food during the period of the fast.
The purpose of detox diets is to rid the body of toxins. Therefore, these diets may provide some benefits to acne sufferers. However, since this is rather a temporary and short elimination of acne-causing foods, detox diets do not provide any lasting benefits in acne treatment.
Paleo diet, on the other hand, may improve acne symptoms. It is a modern nutritional plan based on the foods available during the paleolithic era of human evolution.
The justification for paleo diet is that humans are more adapted to this diet than they are to modern diets. Since paleo diet supplies the basic food needs and excludes refined and processed foods in all forms, it should improve acne symptoms for as long as it is adopted.
Herbal teas are very effective acne remedies that can be easily prepared at home. Different herbs are used to treat acne and the tea form is the most popular way of using them.
However, instead of simply infusing a powdered herb, some real teas are available for acne treatment. The four most important acne teas are green tea, rooibos tea, chamomile tea and spearmint tea.
All of these teas contain antioxidants such as EGCG (Epigallocatechin-3-gallate). Although EGCG is absent in rooibos tea, the tea contains 3 other important antioxidants.
Green tea also contains other antioxidants besides EGCG. These are vitamins A, C and E as well as selenium.
Beyond protecting the skin from harmful free radicals, green tea is also useful in acne treatment as an anti-inflammatory agent which can help resolve acne lesions such as pimples. Green tea also contains zinc which has some antimicrobial properties.
Rooibos tea is native to South Africa. It also contains some zinc.
The antioxidant properties of rooibos tea are derived from superoxide dismutase, aspalathin and nothofagin. Rooibos tea also helps reduce skin inflammation and it has an antimicrobial property. When applied on the skin, the alpha hydroxyl acids in rooibos tea can help rejuvenate the skin by removing dead skin cells.
Chamomile tea also has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its ability to reduce skin inflammation has been compared to that of hydrocortisone.
Chamomile tea is especially useful for stress-induced acne since it is also an anxiolytic which produces a calming effect.
Spearmint tea also has an antioxidant effect. It specifically prevents the formation of reactive oxygen species from fat metabolism.
Active ingredients in spearmint tea have also been shown to reduce the level of free testosterone in the body. By this means, spearmint tea addresses the hormonal cause of acne and prevents the excessive secretion of sebum.
When drinking these 4 teas in acne treatment, honey and lemon juice can be added to sweeten and flavor them. This is because both honey and lemon juice are acne home remedies too. Honey, especially Manuka honey, has a strong antibacterial effect.
Toothpastes are sometimes used in spot treatment of acne. This is chiefly because of the triclosan content.
The kinds of toothpaste to use on acne lesion are the paste types and not the gels. In addition, special toothpastes such as tartar control toothpastes should be avoided as they contain even stronger ingredients which can damage the skin.
Triclosan is an antimicrobial agent added as a preservative in toothpastes.
It is effective against a lot of microorganisms including antibiotic-resistant ones. Therefore, triclosan can help remove acne-causing bacteria from the skin.
However, triclosan is easily degraded to harmful chemicals like chlorophenols and dioxins in sunlight and by microbes. These compounds, but especially dioxins, can be absorbed through the skin. Once in the body, dioxins interfere with the endocrine system and may cause hormonal imbalance.
Therefore, toothpaste is not an ideal acne treatment. It is not as effective as most of the other home remedies or acne medications available. And it should not be used long-term because of safety concerns.
Besides toothpastes, other chemicals easily obtained at home can be used to treat acne. The two most important ones are vinegars and hydrogen peroxide.
Vinegars are used in cooking and for disinfecting surfaces at home. There are two vinegars used in acne treatment. These are white vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
Vinegars are antiseptic agents that can help reduce the population of acne-causing bacteria on the skin while disinfecting it. Also, since vinegars are acidic solutions, they can help restore the pH balance of the skin and make it less conducive for bacterial growth.
Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent and an antiseptic commonly used at home. It is an effective antibacterial agent that can kill off acne-causing bacteria.
However, care should be taken when treating acne with hydrogen peroxide. This is because it can bleach hair and clothes and also cause dry skin.
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