Having to deal with acne is just a fact of life for teenagers all over the world. However, for many, the ordeal continues well into their 20s and 30s. This article will provide you with a brief overview about the causes of acne and will then proceed to enumerate some common home remedies.
Causes of Acne
Our skin consists of millions of pores. Sometimes our dead skin gets caught in these pores and are not able to escape it because it combines with our natural body oil (sebum) to form tiny clumps that block the pores. The bacteria in these dead skin cells then infect and inflame the area, which becomes visible to us in the form of acne or pimples. When people speak of acne, they usually envision a collection of inflammation on the facial area, however, they may appear on other parts of the body as well, including the chest and the back.
Common Symptoms of Acne
Acne appears as small bumps on the skin, which can get inflamed and filled with pus. If not treated properly they may leave a permanent mark on the skin.
Before you incur those expensive bills from your dermatologist and irritate your skin with aggressive pharmaceutical treatments, there are several home remedies that you could try.
Home Remedies for Acne
The internet is riddled with several purported remedies for acne and I am sure that your friends or family members have different suggestions as well. We have done our utmost to separate fact from fiction and have shortlisted some of the most effective home remedies for you.
- Tea Tree Oil
If you have been following this site for any amount of time, you are already aware that tea tree oil is a highly potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral solution. It cures a lot of different skin ailments, acne being one of them. It is also a powerful astringent, allowing it to cut through the excess sebum and attack the source of the infection. Following is how should apply the treatment:
- Create a 5% solution of tea tree oil. This can be achieved my mixing one part of tea tree oil with 19 parts of water. Some replace water with witch hazel or aloe vera to create a more potent concoction.
- Apply this with a cotton ball or swab to an unaffected area of the skin, to make sure that you are not allergic to the treatment.
- Once you are satisfied, take a fresh cotton ball or swab and apply the solution to the inflamed area. You should gently form a thin coat on the affected area and let it dry naturally.
Please remember the following while using tea tree oil to treat your acne:
- Tea tree oil is highly potent and aggressive and should never be used in an undiluted form. It should never be ingested either.
- Do not increase the frequency from the recommended regimen of twice a day. This is because the astringent properties of tea tree oil can make your skin a little too dry, which in turn can make your acne worse!
- Green Tea
Green tea contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate, also known as EGCG. This is an anti-oxidant that reduces bacterial grown and sebum protection in the inflamed area. Following is how you can use organic green tea leaves (highly recommended) or a green tea bag (worthy alternative) to create a highly effective topical treatment for acne.
- Use a kettle to boil some water. As soon as the water is ready, take a strainer and fill it with organic green tea leaves. Run the water through the strainer into a cup or bowl. If you are using a green tea bag instead, fill the cup or bowl with boiling water and then dip a green tea bag into it and let it simmer.
- While you are waiting for the liquid to cool down to room temperature or at least to a tolerable lukewarm stage, clean your face with fresh water and pat it dry.
- Once the green tea has cooled down sufficiently, you can apply it on the affected area using a cotton ball or a swap. If you have a spritzer handy, feel free to use it instead.
- If you have used green tea bag, then use it as a gentle scrub on the inflamed area.
- Allow your face to dry naturally, post which you can rinse you face with fresh water.
Make sure that you never use boiling hot water on your acne as it can damage the epithelial layer of your skin, which can leave you vulnerable to secondary infections, which can make your acne worse!
- Fuller’s Earth
Indian women in general and teenagers is particular swear by this treatment. Fuller’s earth (also known as multani mitti in the Indian sub-continent) is a power astringent that reduces sebum production, thus opening up your pores. Following is how you apply this treatment:
- Mix equal parts of fuller’s earth with sandalwood powder. Use rosewater to create a sticky paste, which would start looking like your typical mud pack.
- Apply this pack all over the affected area and let it dry naturally.
- Once the pack is completely dry, rinse it off gently with fresh water.
This treatment should be applied at least once a week. If you are in the west, you can purchase all of the above ingredients from any Indian grocery store.
- Egg Whites
Egg whites may be considered to be a superfood as it is choc-a-bloc filled with proteins and vitamins, which combats the sebum on your skin and also boosts your natural immunity to help combat the acne bacteria. Egg whites can be used to treat your acne by applying the following steps:
- Crack three eggs and empty the content of the shells into a clean mixing bowl.
- Separate the yolks from the whites. Do what you want with the yolks, as they are not relevant for this treatment.
- Add one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
- Whisk them thoroughly until you see a foamy texture.
- Apply liberal quantity of this treatment of the affected area and let it dry. Once it dries, apply another layer of it.
- Keep repeating the above step until you have created at least 4 layers.
- Once the last layer has dried, wash it off with some lukewarm water and then pat the area dry.
Egg white is a highly potent astringent which will leave your skin feeling really dry after the treatment. Apply a light moisturizer after you wash off the egg white pack.
This treatment should be applied only once during a 24 hour period.
There are two main reasons why papaya is such an effective treatment for acne:
- It acts as a natural astringent and exfoliate, which helps remove excess sebum and the dead skin cells from the affected area.
- It contains an enzyme called papain, which is known in the scientific community for its anti-inflammatory properties. If applied right at the start of an acne outbreak, it can prevent pus from being formed in the nodules.
Following is how you can use papaya to treat your acne:
- Throw some pieces of papaya in the blender to create a smooth paste.
- Wash the afflicted area with some fresh water and pat it dry.
- Apply the paste on the acne outbreak and let it dry naturally. This should take about 20 minutes.
- Rinse the area off with some fresh water.
If your skin feels a little too dry after the papaya treatment, apply a very thin film of a light moisturizer. This treatment should be applied at least once a day.
Aspirin contains salicylic acid, which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Creating a coarse exfoliate with aspiring will remove sebum and dead skin cells from the inflamed area, thus clearing the path for the salicylic acid to act on the inflammation. Following is how you apply this treatment:
- Take 2 aspirin pills and grind them into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar.
- Add one tablespoon of water and mix it thoroughly to create a coarse paste.
- Gently rub this paste on the inflamed area and leave it on for about 15 minutes.
- Rinse the area off with some lukewarm water.
If you believe that this treatment is creating an adverse effect on your skin, rinse off your skin immediately and refrain from using this treatment in the future. If everything goes well, feel free to apply this treatment at least twice a day.
- Sea Salt
Sea salt is another potent astringent that helps get rid of excess sebum and opens up your pores. When combined with honey, it can help combat the acne bacteria as well! Following is how you apply this treatment:
- Take one tablespoon of sea salt and three tablespoon of boiling hot water and mix them together until the salt completely dissolves in the water.
- Add one tablespoon of honey into the mixture and stir it thoroughly.
- Let the mixture cool down to room temperature.
- Stir the mixture again and then apply it on your acne with a Q-tip.
- Leave it on for about 10 minutes and then was it off with fresh water.
- Apply a light moisturizer if your face feels a bit too dry.
Apply this treatment once a day, preferably before you go to bed.
- Witch Hazel
Besides increasing the potency of the tea tree oil treatment, witch hazel is an effective treatment for acne on its own right because of its strong astringent properties. There is anecdotal evidence that witch hazel also reduces the occurrence scars or other blemishes after the acne subsides. Following is how you apply the treatment:
- Rinse your face with fresh water and pat it dry.
- Apply witch hazel with a cotton ball on the afflicted area and let it dry naturally.
- Rinse it off with fresh water and then pat it dry.
You can apply this treatment twice a day, once before you go to bed and once after you wake up. Do not apply this treatment more than that, as it may dry out your skin too much.
Fenugreek is an herb with known anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Either fenugreek leaves or the seed of the fenugreek plant can be used to create a highly effective treatment for acne.
- Using fenugreek leaves: The leaves of the fenugreek plant can be used to create a potent treatment for acne by applying the following steps:
- Take some fenugreek leaves and throw them in the blender. Add a tablespoon of water and turn the blender on for a couple of seconds. Make sure you adjust the quantity of the fenugreek leaves or the water, so that you are able to create a smooth paste.
- Apply the paste on your acne and leave it on for about 15 minutes.
- Wash your face with lukewarm water.
If you do this at least once every day, you should see some visible improvement within four days.
- Using fenugreek seeds: Fenugreek seeds can be used to create an effective treatment for acne if you follow the steps mentioned below:
- Take a tablespoon of fenugreek seeds and grind them into a fine powder.
- Add a bit of warm water to this powder to create a paste. The texture should be slightly coarse.
- Apply it to the inflamed area and leave it overnight.
This should be applied every other day. Conditions should improve within a week.
Bonus 5 Remedies
- Aloe Vera
People usually think of Aloe Vera as a treatment for sunburn, because of its soothing properties. However, aloe vera has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well, which can be leveraged into a treatment for acne. For best results, one should take an aloe leaf and do the following:
- Chop off the rinds to take the leaf apart.
- Scape the natural gel with a Q-tip and apply it on the inflamed area.
If you cannot get hold of an aloe plant, visit the local drugstore and purchase a bottle of organic aloe gel and apply that instead.
Aloe should be applied at least twice every day.
- Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda)
Baking soda has anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an astringent, thus making it a highly efficient treatment against acne. It also helps the pH balance of your skin by making it slightly acidic. A slightly acidic pH level is fantastic for your skin, but it creates a highly inhospitable environment for the acne bacteria. Following is how you can use baking soda to treat your acne:
- Take two tablespoons of baking soda, add a few drops of water and stir it to create a thick paste.
- Take a small amount of it and apply it to an unaffected area, to ensure that you are not allergic to it. If you feel an intense reaction, you should abort the treatment immediately.
- If you are not allergic to sodium bicarbonate, apply it to the affected area and let the mixture sit for about twenty minutes.
- Rinse the area with some lukewarm water and then pat it dry. If you skin feels a little too dry after the treatment, feel free to apply a thin layer of a light moisturizer.
You can also use baking soda as an exfoliating scrub:
- Take a cup of baking soda and add about 1/8th a cup of water to it to create a slightly coarse paste.
- Massage the inflamed area with this paste for about six minutes. Be gentle so that you do not pop any of the acne pustules.
- Rinse the face several times with some lukewarm water.
- It is natural for your face to feel a bit dry after this treatment. Applying a thin film of a light moisturizer should take care of that.
You can add other ingredients to baking soda to make an even stronger treatment against acne. Following is how you do it:
- Take two tablespoons of baking soda, five tablespoons of honey, three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and one tablespoon of cinnamon powder.
- Mix them together to create to create a paste, it may be a bit thick, but that is expected.
- Apply it on the acne inflammations and let it sit for about five minutes.
- Wash it off with warm water and pat the area dry.
- Your skin will feel extremely dry, which is fine. Just apply a little bit of moisturizer, but not too much so that your pores don’t get clogged again!
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is another highly effective treatment for acne because:
- Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain-fatty-acids (MCFAs). Two of these MCFAs, namely lauric acid and capric acid has intense anti-microbial properties, which can directly attack the acne bacteria.
- It also contains Vitamin E, which rejuvenates the glands that produces sebum and ensures, that your skin stays healthy. Healthy sebaceous glands produce an adequate amount of sebum, preventing your skin from becoming too dry or oily.
- Coconut oil also has strong anti-inflammatory properties and just like the papaya treatment as mentioned earlier in this article, if coconut oil is applied during the initial stages of an acne outbreak, it can prevent the formation of the pus-filled pustules.
Following is how you can incorporate coconut oil to treat your acne:
- Rinse your face gently with some fresh water. Pat it dry.
- Take a tub of virgin coconut oil and gently apply a thin coat on the affected area. Let your skin soak it naturally.
- Do not wash your face until the coconut oil is absorbed completely.
You can also replace your regular cooking oil with virgin coconut oil, which will help fortify your body against acne and other inflammations from the inside. However, this should be a gradual process because coconut oil is a potent de-toxifying agent. Consuming too much off it at one go may release too many toxins from your liver, which may cause severe diarrhea.
- Manuka Honey
If you loosen your purse-strings and acquire some Manuka honey, it can provide you with some significant help in your battle against acne. Manuka honey is a produce of New Zealand, which is made by bees that pollinate the Manuka bush that is native to the archipelago. Its strong anti-bacterial properties directly attack the acne bacteria, allowing you to notice some visible improvement within days!
The steps necessary to apply this treatment are as follows:
- Rinse the affected area with some fresh water and pat it dry.
- Wash your hands with some strong anti-bacterial soap.
- Dip your index finger in the bottle of Manuka honey and apply it on the affected area.
- Protect the application with some gauze and medical tapes and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
- Take off the protection and rinse your face thoroughly.
If you cannot get hold of Manuka honey, you can use regular honey instead, however, anecdotal evidence suggests that it will not be as effective.
Unlike the other home remedies mentioned so far, this is one treatment that would solely attempt to heal your acne from the inside. Scientific studies have shown that people who suffer from acne, tends to suffer from zinc deficiency as well. Zinc is known in the scientific community as an ‘essential trace element’, which means that consuming this element in small amounts is necessary for the human body to function properly. Vegetarians in general and vegans in particular are more prone towards suffering from zinc deficiency.
In terms of your skincare, zinc acts as a carrier that helps carry Vitamins A & E to your skin cells, which helps regulate your natural exfoliation and sebum production. We have already established earlier in this article that if you are unable to get rid of your dead skins efficiently, or if you have a hyper-active sebaceous gland or any combination of the two, you are doomed towards suffering from an acne outbreak.
If your body lacks the optimal amount of zinc, you will also display the following symptoms besides acne:
- Diminished sex drive
- Visible white spots on your fingernails
- Frequently suffering from the common cold
- Dry skin
The best way to reduce your zinc deficiency is to modify your diet. Some examples of foods that are an effective source of zinc are:
- Liver of grass-fed beef or lamb
- Shiitake mushrooms
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Cashew nuts
- Sunflower seeds
If you cannot incorporate more zinc in your diet, then your only resort is to take some supplements. However, just taking a supplement at random is not a guaranteed cure for any affliction. You need to ensure that the supplement taken can actually be processed by your digestive system and absorbed in your body. We would suggest zinc picolinate because it forms naturally in your intestines when zinc from food combines with picolinic acid produced by your pancreas. For best results, take one capsule of this supplement right after you have had a full breakfast. A word of caution, taking this on an empty stomach may cause a bout of severe nausea.
One should never exceed the recommended dosage of zinc supplements. This is because an excess of zinc reduces the copper content in our body, which can lead to a host of other health problems.
Please note that zinc ointments have not proved to be an effective treatment for acne, unless combined with erythromycin, which is a prescription-strength anti-biotic. Suggesting this treatment would obviously go against the ethos of this article.
So that is our list of recommended home treatment for acne. Kindly remember that no two human bodies are made the same, hence individual results may vary. Feel free to let us know what worked for you!