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What Can Clear Acne?

Early and constant treatment can help clear acne. Here are 6 ways to clear acne before it scars your skin.
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Acne is a common skin disease that mostly affects the face, the back and the shoulders. Because it leaves blemishes on the skin, acne can be psychologically distressing since it changes the appearance of the skin.

Acne can persist long into adulthood and leave scars that are difficult to get rid of. The best approach to treating acne is to start early, to find the most effective remedies and build them into your daily skincare routine so that you can easily keep up a long-term treatment.

However, finding the right treatment can be difficult. With the increasing number of acne products on the market and the thousands of home treatment advices available on the internet, finding an acne treatment that works will take time.

This article presents the most effective ways to keep your skin clear of acne.

It should be noted that no acne remedy works for everyone. However, there is an effective acne treatment for every acne sufferer.

Home Treatments

For most people, the first line of treatment following an acne breakout is to use a remedy that is easily obtained and available at home.

Some people choose to drink more water (8 cups of water daily) but this does not really produce any significant improvement on its own.

Some apply toothpaste as spot treatment on acne lesions such as pimples. The right toothpaste can be effective especially for mild to moderate acne. However, triclosan, which is the needed ingredient of toothpaste, can be harmful to the skin too when degraded.

Other home remedies such as hydrogen peroxide and vinegars are more effective.

Vinegars (white vinegar and apple cider vinegar) are acidic solutions that can help restore the pH of the skin to prevent further damage by acne-causing bacteria. By a similar mechanism, vinegars are antiseptic solutions that can reduce the population of bacteria colonizing the skin.

Hydrogen peroxide provides an even more effective antibacterial action. It is commonly used as bleaching agent and a disinfectant at home. This peroxide oxidizes bacteria cells but is converted to water and oxygen when it comes in contact with the skin.

A restricted diet can also serve as acne treatment.

By eliminating milk, dairy products, soda drinks and high carb foods especially those containing refined sugar from your diet, you can prevent the hormonal imbalances that lead to acne breakouts.

A detox diet works in the same way but also by removing toxins from the body. However, such diets can only provide a temporary solution to acne.

Teas

Herbal teas also qualify as acne treatment that can be easily prepared at home. Usually, the teas used for treating acne have active ingredients with antioxidant properties.

Antioxidants are useful for protecting the skin against damage from toxins, free radicals and bacteria. Antioxidants are especially effective for preventing skin inflammation which is triggered by the immune system following damage to the sebaceous follicle.

The most common teas used in acne treatment are green tea, chamomile tea, rooibos tea and spearmint tea. The most common antioxidant in these teas is EGCG or epigallocatechin-3-gallate.

Rooibos tea, a caffeine-free tea native to South Africa, does not contain EGCG but it contains other antioxidants like aspalathin, nothofagin and superoxide dismutase.

Other antioxidants found in teas include vitamins A, C and E. Selenium is also an antioxidant that is found in green tea.

These teas can be drunk or applied on the skin as a toner to produce local effects that can provide immediate results in acne treatment.

Besides the common antioxidant property, teas can also provide other benefits in acne treatment.

Rooibos tea and green tea, for example, contain zinc which has antimicrobial effects. Rooibos tea also contains alpha hydroxyl acids which promote skin rejuvenation by increasing the turnover of the top layer.

Chamomile is an anxiolytic. Therefore, it can help treat acne breakouts caused by stress. Spearmint tea can help correct the hormonal imbalance which can trigger acne. Spearmint is effective because it reduces the level of free testosterone in the body.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

Supplements are also potent anti-acne medications. They improve general health as well as skin health. However, vitamins and minerals also provide specific benefits in acne treatment.

The most important vitamins and minerals used to treat acne are vitamin A, B5, B6, C, D and E as well as selenium, zinc and magnesium.

Vitamin A is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps rejuvenate the skin by increasing its turnover. Vitamin A analogs such as isotretinoin are effective acne medications too.

Vitamin B5 is the most important of the B vitamins in acne treatment. It reduces the size of skin pores and prevents them from clogging up. Vitamin B5 also increases the production of Coenzyme A, a cofactor for important biochemical reactions.  Coenzyme A speeds up fat metabolism and, in this way, it reduces the production of excess sebum.

Vitamin B6 corrects the hormonal imbalance that causes acne. It reduces the production of testosterone and its metabolites. These male sex hormones enlarge the sebaceous glands and increase the secretion of sebum. Vitamin B6 also relieves acne symptoms by interfering with prostaglandin release. Since prostaglandin is involved in inflammatory reaction, vitamin B6 can reduce the severity of inflammatory acne lesions.

Vitamins C and E are useful in acne treatment because they are antioxidants.

Vitamin C is also used in acne treatment as support when using oral antibiotics. Oral antibiotics, especially the tetracycline antibiotics, can cause the pigmentation of the skin, teeth and bones.

To protect the skin from the photosensitive reaction of these antibiotics, vitamin C is often prescribed alongside for its antioxidant effect.

Apart from serving as an antioxidant, vitamin E also contributes to the relief of acne by improving tissue regeneration and promoting wound repair.  

Vitamin D reduces sebum production by preventing the enlargement of the sebaceous glands. This vitamin also possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to some degrees.

Selenium is a potent antioxidant. It produces its antioxidant effect by stimulating the release of glutathione peroxidase which helps deactivate both organic and inorganic peroxides which may damage the skin.

Selenium also improves the antioxidant effects of vitamins A and E. Therefore, it is recommended that selenium be combined with these vitamins in supplements used for treating acne.

Actimine is a good example of an acne supplement that uses this combination.

Zinc is also an important mineral in acne treatment. It is an antimicrobial agent that can kill off acne-causing bacteria. Zinc is also useful in acne treatment because it reduces the production of dihydrotestosterone, one of the androgens that contribute to acne breakout.

Antibiotics

Oral and topical antibiotics are commonly used in acne treatment. Oral antibiotics are usually prescribed for severe acne while topical antibiotics are used for treating mild to moderate acne.

Antibiotics help kill off acne-causing bacteria such as Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermis. They are used less in acne treatment these days because of the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The tetracycline antibiotics are the most commonly used oral antibiotics to clear acne. 

Tetracycline Antibiotics for Acne
  • Tetracycline
  • Doxycycline
  • Minocycline
  • Oxytetracycline
  • Lymecycline

Each of these tetracycline antibiotics is prescribed for a different reason. For example, doxycycline is given when tetracycline fails and minocycline specifically works for acne presenting majorly as pimples.

Another oral broad-spectrum antibiotic used to clear acne is erythromycin. However, its antibacterial effect is lesser than those of the tetracycline antibiotics and so erythromycin is used for mild to moderate acne or early on during acne breakouts.

The most common topical antibiotic used to clear acne is clindamycin. It is especially effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It is usually combined with other acne medications.

Oils

Oils, especially essential oils, are also helpful in acne treatment. They help slough off dead skin cells and rejuvenate the skin by increasing the turnover of the top layer. Oils also bring out the sheen of skin because they provide a deep cleansing action.

Some of the most effective oils for clearing acne include tea tree oil which is used for treating skin infection, cuts and burns.

Tea tree oil contains phytochemicals with potent antibacterial activities. Therefore, it can help clear off acne-causing bacteria. Its efficacy in clearing acne has been compared to that of benzoyl peroxide.

Jojoba oil is a cosmetic wax with special properties that make it effective for treating acne.

Although, it is an oil at room temperature, jojoba oil is actually a wax ester and it is similar to human sebum. Because of this similarity, applying jojoba oil on the skin can trick the skin into sensing that it is too oily and then reducing the production of sebum. Therefore, jojoba oil can help prevent the overproduction of sebum which may clog skin pores.

Jojoba oil also clears acne by its antimicrobial properties. It is effective against microbes involved in skin infections including acne-causing bacteria and even the fungi responsible for candidiasis.

Lastly, jojoba oil also contains vitamin E, a potent antioxidant which can protect the skin against damage from toxins and free radicals.

Vitamin E oil is also available for clearing acne. It is supplied in capsules which can take taken orally and also as bottled oil to rub on the skin. Besides serving as an antioxidant, vitamin E oil also improves the appearance of the skin and fades away acne scars.

Fish oils such as cod liver oil are also good for clearing acne. Their main ingredients are the Omega 3 fatty acids, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

These Omega 3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammatory acne lesions because they inhibit the immune cascade reactions leading to skin inflammation.

Some fish oils may contain other effective acne remedies. For example, cod liver oil also contains vitamins A and D besides the Omega 3 fatty acids.

Botanicals

Herbs are also effective for clearing acne. In fact, there is a long list of herbs that can provide some benefits in acne treatment. Some of them are discussed below.

Gum guggul is a resinous sap used in traditional medicine for treating a number of diseases. The active ingredient of gum guggul has an anti-inflammatory property. Therefore, the herb can help reduce inflammatory acne lesions.

Dong quai is another herb that can help clear acne. It is called female ginseng because it stimulates the production of female sex hormones. Since some of these hormones counter male sex hormones, they can produce anti-acne effects by correcting the hormonal imbalance that triggers acne in the first place.

Vitex is another herb with similar properties. It specifically increases the production of progesterone which is a female sex hormone released in the ovaries. Therefore, vitex can provide significant benefits for women suffering from adult acne.

Aloe vera is another botanical used to treat acne. It provides a broad spectrum of beneficial effects that improves skin health. It soothes, it heals and it moisturizes. In addition, aloe vera possesses some antibacterial properties that can help clear off acne-causing bacteria.

Other botanicals of use in acne treatment include extracts of red clover, olive leaf, licorice root, burdock root and dandelion root.

Next Article: Aloe for Acne Treatment
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