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20 Home Remedies for Acne

There are many home remedies for acne which can be used alone or combined. These are easily obtained, effective and affordable.
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It is possible to treat acne at home. Mild to moderate acne do not need a visit to the doctor’s office because a little research can show you the many home remedies that are effective.

However, you should know that not all acne medications work for everyone. While a remedy may seem like a miracle cure for some people, it may produce no results or even worsen the symptoms of acne in others.

Acne is a common skin infection that is characterized by the appearance of lesions. There are two types of acne lesions: superficial ones such as whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and papules; and deep ones such as nodules and cysts.

These lesions, whether bumps or lumps, can be painful and produce pus when popped. They can also cause the red, scaly appearance of the skin known as seborrhea.

When aggravated, acne lesions may heal improperly and form scars.

There are different causes of acne. Some of these are stress, puberty, menopause, pregnancy, cosmetics, certain drugs and hereditary. All of these causes have two basic links to acne breakouts: bacterial colonization of the skin and hormonal imbalance.

Both bacterial infections and hormones are interlinked in the development of acne.

Both of these factors cause increased sebum production, increased keratinization, and an abnormal cycle of inflammation.

The bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis, are implicated in the development of acne. When both of them are found on the skin, they almost always trigger acne breakouts.

The kind of hormonal imbalance that produces acne is due to an increased production of male sex hormones such as testosterone and its metabolites. These androgens can cause the enlargement of the sebaceous glands and the increased production of sebum.

With the increasing amount of sebum, bacteria and dead skin cells, these three agents combine and form plugs that clog skin pores and thus cause acne lesions.

How Acne Remedies Work

There are different types of acne remedies, both natural and synthetic. Some are taken orally while others are meant for topical application.

The major mechanisms by which these remedies treat acne are by:

  • Killing off the bacteria that cause acne through antibacterial actions
  • Reducing sebum production and removing excess sebum from the skin
  • Reducing hyperkeratinization which produces more dead skin cells than can be naturally sloughed off
  • Restoring hormonal balance and inhibiting the effects of androgens
  • Restoring the skin pH by increasing the acidity of the skin during acne breakouts
  • Clearing clogged pores by astringent actions and removing dead skin cells by microdermabrasion actions
  • Reducing the inflammation associated with acne lesions

No one acne remedy provides all of these benefits but by combining different remedies, it is possible to establish a multi-focus and highly effective acne treatment.

OTC Acne Remedies

While most home remedies for acne are natural products such as herbal extracts like aloe vera and household items like baking soda, over-the-counter acne products also qualify as home remedies too because they are also easily obtained and do not require prescriptions or medical experience to use.

OTC Acne Remedies
  1. Hydrogen peroxide
  2. Benzoyl peroxide
  3. Salicylic acid
  4. Sulfur
  5. Alpha hydroxyl acids.

Stronger acne medications such as retinoids and antibiotics are not considered home remedies because they sometimes do require prescriptions and should not be used indiscriminately at home.

Hydrogen Peroxide and Benzoyl Peroxide: These are the two peroxides used in acne treatment. They are bleaching agents because they are strong oxidizers.

While hydrogen peroxide is a domestic and industrial cleanser supplied as a clear, slightly viscous liquid, benzoyl peroxide can only be found in some acne products.

Both peroxides have strong antibacterial activities and can remove the oily layer covering the skin which is caused by excess sebum production. By their actions, the peroxides can kill of acne-causing bacterial and exfoliate the top layer of the skin to increase the turnover of the epidermis.

These peroxides should be used only in their lowest concentration since they can cause a temporary whitening of the skin, skin dryness and bleaching of hair and clothes.

Salicylic acid: The activities of salicylic acid are similar to those of the peroxides. It is a plant hormone derived from the bark of willow tree.

This phenolic acid possesses anti-inflammatory and mild antibacterial activities.

In acne treatment, salicylic acid breaks down keratin, whiteheads and blackheads and also kills off acne-causing bacteria.

It shrinks pores to prevent their clogging; increases blood circulation to the follicle cells; promotes exfoliation of the skin; and reduces inflammation and seborrhea associated with acne.

Sulfur and Alpha Hydroxyl Acids: Sulfur is an antibacterial agent. It is also needed for the syntheses of essential amino acids in the skin cells.

Alpha hydroxyl acids are included in cosmetics and topical acne preparations for their astringent activities. They peel off the top layer of the skin to expose a younger layer and they also dry up acne blemishes.

Natural Home Remedies

There are many natural remedies that can be taken at home to treat acne. These herbal extracts are easy to prepare and apply.

A few of them are meant to be ingested while most of them are made to be applied on the skin either as toners or acne masks.

Below are some of the most effective natural home remedies for acne.

Oral Acne Remedies

Not all herbal acne remedies work externally. Herbal extracts and medicinal oils can also improve acne symptoms when taken orally.

Natural Oral Acne Remedies

6. Green tea

7. Olive oil

8. Lemon juice

9. Vinegar

These oral herbal remedies should be taken in moderation since they can also cause side effects or interact with other drugs.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Lemon Juice Drink: Dilute ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 8 ounces of water in a glass jar. Add ½ tablespoon of lemon juice to this solution, and stir the mixture. Store in a cool, dry place and drink a little of this mixture before meals.

Apple cider vinegar has a sour taste that lemon juice will mask. The vinegar should never be taken without first diluting it.

Green Tea, Lemon Juice and Fennel Seed Tea: Infuse 1 tablespoon of fennel seeds in a little water for 5 minutes before filtering off the seeds. Add 4 ounces of green tea and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Drink this tea in the morning.

Vitamins are also effective home remedies for acne. 100 mg of niacin and 50,000 IU of Vitamin A taken three times daily and 400 mg Vitamin E taken once daily for 1 month are recommended acne treatments.

Homemade Acne Masks and Toners

There are many homemade acne treatments available. Some are basic and use only one ingredient while other combine several herbal extracts.

Homemade topical acne remedies are not restricted to herbal extracts only. For example, baking soda and vinegars can be applied on the face. Even white toothpastes are recommended for spot treatment of acne since their triclosan, menthol and alcohol contents can provide local astringent and antibacterial actions.

Examples of homemade acne treatments each of which uses a single ingredient include:

Natural Topical Acne Remedies

10. Aloe vera juice (applied twice daily to heal acne scar)

11. Cucumber (grated and blended into a paste and applied on the affected area for 30 minutes before washing off)

12. Tomato (cut into slices and left on the affected area for 15 minutes before washing off with warm water)

13. Egg whites (applied on the affected area and left on overnight then washed off in the morning)

14. Lemon (slice into halves and rub on the affected area at bedtime. Wash off in the morning)

15. Garlic (rub raw garlic on the affected area to remove acne scars and treat severe acne)

16. Papaya (apply the juice of raw papaya including the skin and seed on the skin to reduce acne inflammation)

17. Fenugreek (make a paste from the leaves of the vegetable, apply at bedtime and wash off with warm water in the morning)

18. Honey (rinse the face to open up the pores before applying honey on the skin. Leave it on for 30 minutes then wash it off with warm water)

19. Baking soda (useful for removing excess sebum and dead skin cells from the skin before they clog up the pores. It also makes the skin unsuitable for microbial colonization by changing its pH)

20. Cornstarch (another common cooking ingredient that can be used at home. It can also be mixed with water to form a paste and used as an acne mask. Cornstarch can also absorb oil and remove excess sebum from the skin)

Simple toners for treating acne can also be made by mixing a home remedy with water. For example, you can dilute apple cider vinegar before applying it on the area affected by acne.

The needed strength of the solution can be prepared by diluting 1 part apple cider vinegar with 3 – 4 parts water.

Acne masks can also be similarly made. A simple baking soda mask can be prepared by adding a little water to baking soda to form a paste. Apply the paste on the area of the skin affected by acne and leave it on for 15 – 20 minutes before rinsing off with warm water.

Honey is a common ingredient of acne masks. Of the different types of honeys, raw Manuka honey is the most used because it is very medicinal and has the greatest antibacterial activity.

Honey produces its antibacterial effect by different means.

It can shrink microbial cells by absorbing moisture from them through a process called osmosis; it can starve them by removing iron through a process called chelation; it can oxidize them by releasing hydrogen peroxide; and it contains the potent antibacterial agent called methlyglyoxal or MGO.

Besides it antibacterial activity, honey also protects the skin with its antioxidant effects. It restores the acidity of the skin by lowering the pH and makes the skin not conducive for microbial growth.

Skin Care Advice for Acne Prevention and Treatment

Healthy skin habits can go a long way in preventing acne breakouts. There are general skincare guidelines that can help you reduce acne flare-ups or avoid them altogether. A few ways to ensure that your skin stays healthy are:

  • Wash the affected area at least once but preferably twice daily. Use a gentle soap or mild cleanser so as not to cause excessive drying. If your skin is too sensitive, you can avoid dryness by washing with lukewarm salty water.
  • Keep your hands off your skin especially the area covered by the acne. Touch is the most common route by which bacteria get on the skin. Therefore, you should refrain from transferring dirt and germs to your skin.
  • Do not pop, pick, prick, pinch or squeeze your pimples or other acne lesions. You will only aggravate these lesions, infect more areas of the skin and cause new acne flare-ups.
  • Avoid oil-based cosmetic products. Instead, use water-based products. When buying skincare products, make sure to get the ones labeled as “oil-free”, “noncomedogenic” and “hypoallergenic”
  • When shaving or applying makeup, make sure to avoid aggravating your pimples, whiteheads and blackheads.
Next Article: Two Oils for Acne


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