Natural Remedies for Acne
Acne vulgaris is a common skin problem that develops when natural oil and dead skin cells plug your pores. Acne is also called pimples, blemishes, blackheads, whiteheads, or zits. These may appear as a few red spots or pimples in its mild form, or as several pimples that cover your face, neck, back and chest, or as solid, red, painful cysts in the severe form.
Acne usually starts during the teenage years because of hormonal changes that make the skin more oily. It can also develop or worsen when one uses oil-based cosmetics and skin products. Aside from these, people who have parents or relatives with severe acne are more likely to have it, too.
Acne can cause embarrassment and can harm one’s self-image. It can also lead to infection and scarring when it is not controlled.
Experts recommend some tips to control acne and reduce flare-up. These include:
- Washing the skin once or twice a day using a gentle, nondrying skin cleanser or soap.
- Removing make-up daily.
- Avoiding oily skin products that can clog skin pores. Use “noncomedogenic” moisturizing skin products.
- Keeping the hands away from the face to prevent scrubbing or picking at your pimples. Do not squeeze your pimples, because this can lead to infection and scars.
- Shampooing your hair daily and keep hair away from face.
- Not wearing tight headbands, caps or hats.
- Managing stress can help reduce acne flare-ups, since stress appears to be linked to increased acne symptoms.
- Staying out of the sun. Ultraviolet rays from the sun can increase redness and inflammation. In addition, some medications used for may make the skin more sensitive to sunlight. Protect your skin from UV rays by using protective covering and sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.
Home treatments may include over-the-counter medicated soaps, creams, lotions, and gels for acne. Active ingredients that may help treat acne include:
- Alpha hydroxy acid, which causes the superficial layer of the skin to peel and helps dry up blemishes.
- Benzoyl peroxide, which helps unplug pores.
- Salicylic acid, which acts like alpha hydroxy acid.
- Tea tree oil, to kill bacteria.
Nutritional Remedies for Acne
Studies suggest that certain foods may cause exacerbation of acne. These include high gycemic index foods, such as refined sugar, baked goods, and processed foods. Dairy products are also associated with acne. On the other hand, foods with low glycemic index help keep blood sugar levels and acne under control. One must also avoid foods that cause allergies because food allergies appear to make symptoms worse.
Important nutrients that help control acne include:
- Zinc, which may reduce acne in proper doses. However, when taken in high doses, zinc can cause vomiting, anemia, and immune system suppression. Zinc may also interacts with some medications, including antibiotics like tetracycline, which is often used for acne.
- Niacinamide (4% topical gel), which may be applied to the skin twice a day for two months.
- L-carnitine, which can offset the side effects (dry skin, dry eyes, chapped lips, and nosebleeds) caused by isotretinoin (Accutane), a drug used for acne treatment.
- Vitamin A, which has similar properties as retinoid drugs that are prescribed for acne, but with fewer side effects. Foods that contain beta carotene (carrots, pumpkin, and other colorful fruits and vegetables) help increase vitamin A levels in the body.
Herbal supplements that may help control acne include guggul (taken orally) and tea tree oil (applied to the skin).
Ayurvedic medicine may also be used to improve acne symptoms. A combination of ginger, Embelia ribes and Holarrhena antidysenterica has been shown to reduce inflammation. Another study showed combining oral and topical use of Azadirachta indica, Aloe barbadensis, turmeric, Hemidesmus indicus, Terminalia arjuna, Terminalia chebula, and ashwagandha may reduce the number of acne lesions. However, herbs may have adverse effects and may interact with some medications.
Homeopathic remedies for acne include the use of belladonna, calendula, Hepar sulphur, Kali bromatum, and Silicea. However, there are very few studies that provide enough evidence that homeopathy is effective in treating acne.
This information should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your health care providers (doctor, registered dietitian, pharmacist, etc.) about your interest in, questions about, or use of dietary supplements and what may be best for your overall health.
WebMD. Acne – Home Treatment. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-vulgaris-home-treatment
WebMD. 10 Tips for Preventing Acne. http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/teen-acne-13/10-tips-for-preventing-pimples
UMMC. Acne. http://umm.edu/health/medical/ency/articles/acne
UM Shore Regional Health. Acne. http://umshoreregional.org/health/medical/altmed/condition/acne