As the body’s largest organ, the skin is prone to various attacks and infections. Almost everyone has had at least some form of skin irritation or infection at some point of their life. Acne is among the most common skin infections, affecting around 85% of the world.
The condition often manifests as inflamed itchy whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. Some cases are severe while others are mild, but all forms of acne are generally treatable through OTC drugs or natural remedies.
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However, the medical and commercial treatment options provided for acne are either very expensive or undesirable because they have side effects like dryness, irritation, and redness.
It has become a popular trend for acne patients to consider natural remedies, but do they really work? In order to determine this, it is important to first understand how acne is formed and what causes its development.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is caused by bacteria known as P. acnes or Propionibacterium acnes. When the skin pores are clogged by oil or sebum secreted by the sebaceous glands they can get plugged up, causing the growth of Propionibacterium acnes.
As a counteraction, white blood cells are released to fight these bacteria, resulting in inflammation and acne.
There are several risk factors associated with the causes of acne, including diet, stress, genetics, infections, and hormone changes. In order to treat acne, you must also resolve the underlying causes.
Unfortunately, there are some causes like genetics which are more difficult to deal with. You can still find natural remedies that will eliminate all acne appearances and incorporate these natural ingredients into your daily skin care products to prevent future outbreaks.
Here are some of the popular natural acne remedies you can try out at home:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
This is perhaps the most effective natural acne remedy available. Apple cider vinegar, formed through fermenting vinegar in pressed unstrained apple juice, contains several organic acids such as succinic and lactic acid known to kill the bacteria responsible for acne.
Succinic acid suppresses inflammation and prevents scarring while lactic acid improves appearance following scarring. Moreover, apple cider vinegar has been shown to soak up the excess oils than block the pores and cause acne to appear.
Using The Apple Cider Vinegar Remedy
To use apple cider vinegar to treat acne, mix one part vinegar and three parts water. Those with sensitive skin should use more water to prevent irritation. Cleanse your skin and dry with a soft cloth.
Using a cotton ball, dab the apple cider vinegar on the acne affected areas. Let the vinegar settle for 5 to 20 seconds before rinsing with clean water and drying. Perform the process once or twice per day until all the acne has disappeared.
When using apple cider vinegar, it is important to note its acidic nature and use it very carefully. You may experience burns and irritation, which is why it should not stay longer than 20 seconds on your skin. If it is too irritating, simply add more water to the next mixture.
2. Zinc Supplements
Zinc is one of the essential elements needed by the body to facilitate cell growth, immune function, metabolism, and hormone production. In addition, it is also one of the heavily researched natural acne remedies.
Although researchers are not sure how zinc consumption eliminates acne, studies have shown that taking elemental zinc supplements can help reduce acne.
According to research studies conducted on 48 acne patients, it was determined that 38 patients who received a daily dose of zinc for 8 weeks had an 80-100% acne reduction. In another study, researchers realized that people with lower zinc levels are more susceptible to acne, and that those who had acne inherently had low zinc levels.
Using The Zinc Supplements Remedy
While the actual zinc dosage required to treat all acne is yet to be determined, researchers affirm that 30-45mg elemental zinc is sufficient to bring about a desirable outcome.
It is important to note that elemental zinc refers to the amount of zinc within the compound, since zinc occurs in various forms including zinc oxide, which has the highest percentage (80%) of elemental zinc.
Doctors advise acne patients to keep supplementation to 40mg maximum and no more unless under professional supervision.
It is also important to note that excessive consumption of zinc can result in various undesirable side effects, including gut irritation and stomach pain.
3. Honey Cinnamon Masks
Honey and cinnamon have long been used as natural acne remedies, mainly because they are rich in antioxidants.
In research studies, antioxidants like vitamin B3, omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acid, SAP (sodium ascorbyl phosphate), and other vitamin C derivatives have been shown to work better in treating acne than retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, the two most common antibiotic acne remedy ingredients.
Although cinnamon and honey lack the mentioned antioxidants, it is believed that antioxidants have a similar effects and function in the same way. What’s more, honey and cinnamon have antibacterial properties and are known to sooth inflammation.
Bacteria and inflammation are the two culprits in acne formation.
Using The Honey Cinnamon Masks Remedy
To make a honey cinnamon mask, simply add two tablespoons of honey to one tablespoon of cinnamon and make a paste. Cleanse your face and dry with a soft cloth.
Apply the paste and let it settle for around 10 – 15 minutes before rinsing it off and patting the face. Repeating the process occasionally can help you maintain a smooth infection-free face.
Although honey and cinnamon have not been studied as a potential treatment for acne, they have been shown to have many benefits to acne-prone skin. They can help you prevent frequent outbreaks and sooth inflammations caused by acne.
4. Tea Tree Oil
Ever since its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties were discovered, tea tree oil has been tested for various skin benefits.
Tea tree oil is basically oil derived from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, an Australian-native tree known to fight bacteria and counter skin inflammation.
In one test study, it was shown that 5% tea tree oil produced results just as good as 5% benzoyl peroxide, only that it took up to 3 months to get these results.
Although it takes a longer time to get rid of acne using this natural remedy, it lacks the adverse side effects (irritation, dryness, and burning) of commercial alternatives.
Using The Tea Tree Oil Remedy
To use tea tree oil for acne treatment, mix one part with nine parts water. Cleanse the skin and use a cotton swab to dab the mixture directly on the affected areas (acne spots).
You can use a moisturizer afterwards if desired and repeat the process once or twice a day until all the acne is gone.
It is important to note the potency of tea tree oil. Make sure you dilute it before application and wash it off like you do with makeup before going to bed.
5. Green Tea
Green tea is already good for your health as it delivers various antioxidants and nutrients. However, green tea has more benefits for acne patients when applied directly on the skin’s surface.
Green tea is known to contain tannins, flavonoids, and ECGG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) antioxidants, all which have been shown to help in fighting off acne.
These ingredients fight the bacteria responsible for acne, inhibit their growth, reduce inflammation, and also reduce sebum production. Through a combination of these processes, green tea ends up eliminating all the acne while rejuvenating your skin properties.
As a matter of fact, research shows that 2-3% green tea will surely remove all acne if applied consistently. There are commercial creams that contain green tea, but you can always make your own at home.
Using The Green Tea Remedy
To use green tea as an acne remedy, simply place some of it in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave it a few minutes for cooling. You can then pour into a spray bottle or use a cotton ball to apply the green tea on the affected areas.
Let it dry before rinsing off with clean water and patting your skin.
Although no scientific research has indicated drinking green tea will reduce acne, some researchers suggest it will work towards helping you avoid breakouts and also improve overall health and immunity.
6. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel has been used for decades to treat a wide range of skin ailments and bring about healing. In the traditional medical practices of North America, witch hazel was used to treat eczema, dandruff, bruises, burns, insect bites, acne, and even varicose veins.
Witch hazel is derived from the Hamamelis virginiana shrub native to North America and contains a high amount of tannins. The shrub has both antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which is why it is used in treating skin conditions and infections.
While there are no studies to support if witch hazel can indeed treat acne, it has been shown to fight bacteria, reduce inflammation, and also improve healing, all which are good for acne patients.
Using The Witch Hazel Remedy
To use witch hazel, place the backs in a saucepan and add one cup of water. Let the backs soak for 30 minutes and then bring to boil on a stove. Turn the heat back to simmer and let the witch hazel cook slowly for 10 minutes.
Make sure it is covered. Remove from heat and let it cool (still covered). Find a sealed container and strain the solution. You can then use a cotton dab to apply the solution once or twice a day as desired.
Make sure you cleanse your face before application. Witch hazel has been shown to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation. It can thus be used to deliver such benefits to acne patients.
7. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is another prolific natural remedy used for various kinds of treatments ranging from detox to skin purification.
Aloe vera has been used to treat burns, abrasions, and rashes, among other skin conditions, and is added to lotions, creams, and cosmetic products for its skin-rejuvenating properties.
The clear gel produced by aloe vera contains both salicylic acid and sulfur, two important acne fighting ingredients. Aloe vera is also recommended for reducing inflammation, as well as healing wounds and burns.
Using The Aloe Vera Remedy
Aloe Vera is very easy to use as it is applied directly on the affected areas. Simply use a spoon to scoop off the gel from an aloe vera plant. You can cut the thick succulent leaves and the gel will automatically ooze and drip.
Apply once or twice a day until you notice changes.
The use of aloe vera in treating acne still requires more research, but the gel has been shown to fight bacterial infections and speed up the process of healing.
8. Fish Oil Supplements
Some of the skin benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, like EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHAA (docosahexaenoic acid) found in fish, include oil production management, maintained hydration, and acne prevention.
Although you can still get these omega 3 fatty acids from your diet, research studies reveal that most people do not get this essential nutrition from their sedentary lifestyles. High amounts of EPA have also been shown to reduce the inflammation which may lead to acne.
In one research study conducted on 45 acne patients, those who were given omega 3 fatty acids for 10 weeks experienced a significant improvement and almost all of their acne was gone.
Using The Fish Oil Supplements Remedy
Much like zinc, doctors are yet to establish the ideal dosage of fish oil supplements required to eliminate acne. However, between 250 and 500 mg combined DHA and EPA daily can help achieve desirable outcomes.
It is also recommendable to eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids like salmon, anchovies, sardines, walnuts, ground flax seeds, and chia seeds, among others.
Incorporating such foods into your regular diet can help in healing and rejuvenation of skin properties following an acne attack.
Make sure you carefully review the supplements before consuming them and contact your doctor if you have any underlying medical condition or if you are taking other medications.
Fish oil has already been shown to fight against acne and eating more of it will definitely remedy the condition.
9. Homemade Exfoliation Scrub
Exfoliation can be used to benefit the skin since it removes the top most layers consisting of dead cells.
In other words, this prevents the dead cells from clogging pores and it also makes other acne remedies and treatments more effective as they penetrate deep to kill the bacteria.
Exfoliation can often be achieved through mechanical scrubbing, although you can also use chemicals that dissolve the outer skin layer.
There is no scientific proof that exfoliation will eliminate all acne. However, it is a procedure that cleanses your skin and removes excess oils and dead cells.
In one research study, 25 patients who were subjected to 8 microdermabrasion procedures (one each week) had their skins improved and they saw minimal acne presence. If anything, they were either gone or greatly reduced.
Microdermabrasion is one of the available methods of exfoliation used by cosmetologist and dermatologists. Based on before and after photos, it was clear the procedures had improved acne even without any other treatment applied.
Using The Homemade Exfoliation Scrub Remedy
To make your own homemade exfoliation scrub, mix some sugar and coconut oil (equal parts). Cleanse your skin and then scrub it with the mixture before rinsing your face clean.
Repeat as regularly as you wish to remove all dead skin cells. When regular exfoliation is combined with other acne treatments, it can make a powerful solution to get rid of all acne.
10. Eat Fewer Dairy Products
There has been a lot of debate regarding whether consuming milk can increase the risk of acne attacks. Two large surveys were conducted to solve this controversy and an unlikely link was established.
Those who suffered acne most confessed to drinking a lot of milk and consuming large amounts of dairy products. However, the subjects in this research study self-reported and this gives room for more research to be carried out on the subject.
The studies are still inconclusive and doctors cannot claim with certainty that dairy products will lead to acne. Nonetheless, it may still be important to cut down on your dairy intake, especially since a positive connection was identified between the two.
If you are already a patient, it is more important to reduce dairy products from your diet as you approach other treatment options for a much quicker recovery.
11. Go For A Low Glycemic Load Diet
Many researchers have attempted to establish the link between diet and acne. It is obvious that nutritional intake of omega 3 fatty acids and zinc can help reduce acne infections, and there are some foods that are thought to do just the opposite (increase acne attacks).
In recent years, studies have shown that insulin and glycemic index can also be related to acne. The glycemic index of a given food refers to how fast that particular food raises blood sugar levels after consumption.
Foods with a high index will immediately increase production of insulin to balance the increased sugar. Apparently, increased insulin results in more sebum secretion and this increases the severity of acne.
Foods that have high glycemic index include white bread, cakes, doughnuts, sugary soft drinks, breakfast cereals, pastries, and candies, among other processed foods.
It is therefore advisable to stay away from these foods and go for alternatives with lower glycemic indices like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and minimally processed ingredients.
Various research studies have been done on high and low glycemic index foods. They all produce the same results showing that those predisposed to low GL show acne improvements.
It was also determined that carb-dense foods may increase the risk of suffering acne attacks or heightening the severity.
12. Stress Reduction
Stress results in the release of stress hormones and this also increases sebum production in the skin. With more sebum production, your skin will become inflamed and your acne will only get worse.
Research studies have always linked stress with acne severity and it also slows down wound healing by up to 40%. This means the acne will be more severe and the lesions will take much longer to heal.
Although various relaxation and stress-reduction treatments have been recommended for treating emotional acne, there is need for more research on the subject. Some of the practices and measures you can put in place to reduce stress include the following:
• Consider taking up yoga classes and learn some moves to relax you.
• Practice taking deep breaths and meditation.
• Engage in physical activities during the day so you are exhausted enough to fall asleep at night.
Patients of chronic stress require advanced treatment and measures. It is important to note that stress will only worsen any condition and thinking too much about the acne is also part of the cause for stress.
13. Physical Exercise
Physical exercises have limitless benefits to the body, including reducing or healing acne.
Exercises do not only keep you fit, they increase blood circulation to all body cells, including skin cells, thus delivering immunity, nutrition, and important elements that will reduce and heal acne.
Additionally, workout reduces both anxiety and stress, two critical factors that are associated with acne. Physical exercise results in better hormone regulation and improves sleep.
In other words, exercising regularly can help you beat acne and heal faster than those who do not exercise. It is recommendable that adults get at least 30 minutes of physical exercise 3 to 5 days of the week.
This will significantly boost their acne remedy activities and efforts.
Natural Acne Remedies Final Words
Acne is a terrible infection that can diminish your self-esteem, as well as irritating and damaging your skin. It is therefore important to find prompt treatment for the infection before it spreads to other areas of the skin and becomes difficult to eliminate.
It is always advisable to wash and disinfect all your dirty cloths if the acne had spread to other parts of the body. There are several underlying causes of acne and knowing which one to deal with can be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, the market is also home to numerous commercial products, some of which are total scams that will take away your money without offering any significant change. It is important to carefully evaluate your options before making a decision.
Before you opt for commercial products, try the above natural acne remedies as they have been shown to provide remarkable results. If the problem persists, consult your physician to seek further help.