Acne
11 Case Studies
4 Member Stories
17 Research

Acne is a skin disease characterized by pimples on the face, chest, and spine.  It occurs when the skin's pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells. The precise cause of acne is not known. Natural therapies for acne focus on keeping an oil-free skin. A healthy diet and lifestyle changes can help.

What is acne or pimples?

The medical term for common acne, acne vulgaris, is the most frequent skin disorder. Almost 85 percent of individuals develop acne a while between the ages of 12 and 25 years old. As many as 20 percent of women develop acne. It's also found in certain newborns.

Acne is a common skin condition when the hair follicles are plugged with dead skin cells and oil. Acne is most commonly observed in teenagers and young adults. An acne outbreak is every teenager's nightmare. They spoil your face appearance and drive a person crazy due to the constant discomfort and urge to pop them. Acne treatment includes over-the-counter ointments, creams, and cleansers. Prescription antibiotics are used in cases where the acne outbreak is particularly severe. 

Acne is one of the most commonly observed skin conditions in the world. It is believed that almost 85 percent of all people experience an acne outbreak at some point in their life.[1] Acne typically begins in puberty and affects young adults and adolescents. However, acne can develop at any stage in life and may continue well into their 30s and 40s.[2,3]

The glands lie just under the surface of your skin. They produce sebum, an oily secretion which hydrates skin and helps to keep the flexibility of their hair. These glands in which they are located and the hair follicles are called follicles. These follicles open to the skin through pores which permit the sebum to attain skin along with the hair shaft. In certain scenarios, excessive sebum is excreted by the glands and it can't be removed in the pores economically. It happens at puberty when amounts of the androgen hormones trigger the overproduction of sebum. Additionally, cells are shed and start to clump together. The extra sebum combines with all the dead cells and creates a plugin, or comedo (also known as comedones), which blocks the pore, which isn't ordinarily seen. After the follicle starts to bulge and appear as a bulge that was whitish under the epidermis, it's called a whitehead. The surface of the plug if the comedo opens up, and it's known as a blackhead.

The bacteria produce chemicals and enzymes which cause inflammation. Pimples are the end result of infected blackheads or whiteheads that rupture, releasing sebum, bacteria, dead skin, and white blood cells on the surrounding cells. Inflamed pimples close to the skin's surface are known as papules; they're raised and red and might be rather tender to the touch. The papules may become full of pus, and are subsequently called pustules. If the follicle continues to expand instead of rupture, it creates a closed sac, called a cyst, which may be considered a lump under the skin. Big hard swellings deep within the skin are known as nodules. The two nodules and cysts can lead to pain and discoloration.

See: Natural Treatment for Hormonal Acne in Ayurveda

What causes acne?

The precise cause of acne is largely unknown. Occasionally when acne in girls is because of excessive male hormone generation, it's characterized by means of onset of this illness in maturity; excessive growth of hair, particularly in areas not usual to a lady, known as hirsutism; irregular menstrual cycles; and premenstrual flare-ups of acne. A 2001 study revealed that the menstrual cycle does impact acne. Surprisingly, the study revealed that 53% of women over age 33 experienced a higher premenstrual acne rate than women under age 20.

Many alternative practitioners assert that acne Is often associated with a condition of toxicity in the intestines or liver. This could possibly be a result of the presence of bacteria like Clostridia spp.

The interaction between the human body hormones, skin protein, skin secretions, and germs determines the plan of acne. Several other factors also have been shown to influence the illness:

- Age. Teens are more likely than anyone to develop acne.

- Gender. Boys have more severe acne and develop it more frequently than women.

- Disease. Hormonal disorders can indicate acne in women.

- Heredity. People with a family history of acne have a higher susceptibility to the condition.

- Hormonal changes. Acne may flare up before menstruation, during pregnancy, and menopause.

- Diet. Although they aren't the primary cause of acne, certain foods may bring on flare-ups or make the condition worse.

- Drugs. Acne can be a complication of antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and anabolic steroids.

- Personal hygiene. The use of additives that are abrasive, tough scrubbing of their face or handling pimples will often make them worse.

- Cosmetics. Oil-based makeup and hair sprays worsen acne.

- Environment. Exposure to oils and greases, polluted atmosphere, and sweating in hot weather can all aggravate acne.

- Stress. Emotional stress may result in acne.

- Friction. Continual rubbing or pressure on the skin by such items as bicycle helmets, acne.

The most typical sites of acne are the face, chest, shoulders, and back because these are the areas of the body in which the many sebaceous follicles are located. In teenagers, acne is often found on the forehead, nose, and chin. As people age, it has a tendency to look towards the outer portion of the face area. Adult women might have acne on their chins and around their mouths. The older often develop whiteheads and blackheads on the upper lips and skin around the eyes. Inflamed lesions may cause redness, tenderness, pain, itching, or swelling in affected regions.

See: Foods for clear healthy skin

Acne Prevention

While preventing acne entirely may not be possible, there are several things one can do to minimize the flare-ups:

- Gentle washing of affected areas a couple of times daily.

- Avoidance of abrasive cleansers.

- Restricted usage of cosmetics and lotions; together with avoidance of oil-based brands entirely.

 - Oily hair ought to be shampooed frequently and consumed, away in the face.

 - A healthy, well-balanced diet plan ought to be consumed. Fresh fruits and veggies should be stressed, and foods that appear to trigger flare-ups ought to be avoided.

 - The Face may be washed lightly, twice per day using a soap of sulfur, Calendula officinalis, or other compounds that are useful for acne.

 - Affected regions shouldn't be handled too. Pimples shouldn't be squeezed or prodded, because this might bring about scarring, in addition to dispersing the acne lesions.

See: Acne, eczema, anxiety, and PMS with Bisoma and Tetrasoma acupuncture, and Sasang herbs.

Natural home remedies for acne scars

Integrative therapies for acne concentrate on proper cleansing to keep an oil-free skin. Appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes are suggested where the person avoids alcohol, dairy products, smoking, sugar, caffeine, processed foods, and foods high in iodine, a mineral that seems to contribute to acne.

Conventional acne treatments can prove to be expensive and lead to various adverse side effects such as redness, dry skin, and irritation. This has caused many people to explore natural or home remedies to cure acne. There are many home remedies for acne. Here are some of the best home remedies for acne that are proven by science. 

1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is a strong antimicrobial agent and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Due to these properties, tea tree oil helps kill the bacteria that causes acne - P. acnes. The highly effective anti-inflammatory properties of tea tree oil also help reduce the redness and swelling that typically accompany acne outbreaks. 

A study carried out in 2015 analyzed the proof for tea tree oil and if it can help treat acne. The study found that products with tea tree oil helped reduce the number of acne sores in cases of mild to moderate acne.[4,5] Many other studies have also found that applying 5 percent tea tree oil topically to the skin reduces the acne outbreak.[6,7]

However, when compared to the prescription treatment of acne with 5 percent benzoyl peroxide, 5 percent tea tree oil does not act as rapidly as the medication, but it helps dramatically improve acne after just three months.[8]

Tea tree oil also resulted in fewer side effects like irritation, dryness, and burning than benzoyl peroxide. 

2. Honey

Honey has been widely used for decades to treat many health conditions. Honey is known to help treat skin conditions like acne as well. Honey is rich in antioxidants, which helps clear out the debris, waste, and oil from the clogged pores.[9] 

For years now, doctors have been using honey in wound dressings for its wound-healing and antimicrobial properties.[10,11] A 2016 in-vitro study found that honey's potent antibacterial properties help promote the healing of wound infections and burns while also inhibiting the growth of the bacteria C. acnes that causes acne.[12]

You can either do a spot treatment on the acne by rubbing honey directly onto the acne. You can make a homemade face mask with honey and cinnamon to increase the effectiveness. Cinnamon is also another excellent source of antioxidants.[13,14] Studies have found that antioxidants' application to the skin is far more effective at reducing acne outbreaks than retinoids and benzoyl peroxide, which are commonly prescribed for acne treatment.[15,16] Both honey and cinnamon can fight bacteria and decrease inflammation, two of the common factors that cause acne.

You can make a honey and cinnamon mask by mixing two tablespoons of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon to form a paste. After cleansing your face, apply this mask to your face and leave it for 15 minutes, after which you can rinse it off. Doing this once a week for at least three months can help reduce the outbreak of acne.

3. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a tropical plant with big cactus-like leaves that produce a clear gel. This gel is frequently used in many lotions, creams, soaps, and ointments. The gel is also used for treating rashes, burns, abrasions, and many other skin conditions. Aloe vera gel treats burns and fights inflammation, and can heal wounds when applied directly to the skin.[17] Aloe vera is rich in sulfur and salicylic acid, both compounds used in the treatment of acne.[18] Various studies have shown that salicylic acid's application to the skin greatly decreases the chances of having an acne outbreak.[19,20] sulfur also is an effective acne treatment.[21,22]

However, the anti-acne benefits of the aloe vera plant itself need to be researched further. To use aloe vera gel, scrape the gel directly from the aloe plant with a spoon and apply it directly to clean skin.  Aloe vera gel is available in stores, but using fresh aloe gel is recommended over store-bought aloe vera.

4. Green Tea

Another natural home remedy for acne is green tea. Green tea is rich in antioxidants, and drinking it can enhance your overall health. While there are no studies to show whether drinking green tea benefits acne, but applying green tea directly to the affected skin can help reduce acne occurrence.   This benefit is because green tea contains tannins and flavonoids that help fight against bacteria and greatly reduce inflammation - the two main triggers of acne.[23,24,25]

Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), the main antioxidant present in green tea, reduces the skin's sebum production (natural body oils) and reduces inflammation inhibits the growth of P. acnes in people with acne-prone skin.[26,27,28]

To use green tea, steep it in boiling water for 5 minutes. Once the tea cools down, use a cotton ball and apply it directly to your skin. Rinse with water once it dries. 

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

 Apple cider vinegar is a time-proven home remedy for acne. It is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral remedy and has been found to kill P. acnes.[29,30,31,32] Apple cider vinegar is also known to dry up the excess oil present on the skin, which causes acne. 

1.   To use apple cider vinegar for acne:

2.   Mix one part apple cider vinegar with at least three parts of water.

3.   Increase the water content if you have sensitive skin.

4.   After cleaning your face, apply the mixture to the skin with a cotton ball.

5.   Rinse with water after 15 to 20 seconds. This process should be repeated two to three times a day or as required. 

However, you must be careful while applying apple cider vinegar to your skin, causing burns and irritation. Always use apple cider vinegar after diluting it in water and small amounts. 

See: Natural Homeopathy Cure for Acne Vulgaris

Summary

There are many other home remedies for acne, including taking a zinc supplement, applying witch hazel, taking a fish oil supplement, using echinacea, mint, jojoba oil, rosemary, coconut oil garlic, chamomile, exfoliating regularly, following a low glycemic load diet, reducing your stress levels, exercising regularly, and cutting back on your intake of dairy products. Acne is a widespread problem, especially among teenagers. While traditional acne treatments may cause dryness and irritate the skin, home remedies are an effective acne treatment and are worth trying. 

See: Aloe vera nutrition facts and health benefits

References

1. Aad.org. 2020. Skin Conditions By The Numbers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2020].

2. Holzmann, R. and Shakery, K., 2014. Postadolescent acne in females. Skin pharmacology and physiology, 27(Suppl. 1), pp.3-8.

3. Khunger, N. and Kumar, C., 2012. A clinico-epidemiological study of adult acne: is it different from adolescent acne?. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 78(3), p.335.

4. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 October 2020]. 

5. Carson, C.F., Hammer, K.A., and Riley, T.V., 2006. Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical microbiology reviews, 19(1), pp.50-62.

6. Enshaieh, S., Jooya, A., Siadat, A.H., and Iraji, F., 2007. The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 73(1), p.22.

7. Sinha, P., Srivastava, S., Mishra, N. and Yadav, N.P., 2014. New perspectives on anti-acne plant drugs: contribution to modern therapeutics. BioMed research international, 2014.

8. Shenefelt, P.D., 2011. 18 Herbal Treatment for Dermatologic Disorders. Lester Packer, Ph. D., p.383.

9. Schramm, D.D., Karim, M., Schrader, H.R., Holt, R.R., Cardetti, M. and Keen, C.L., 2003. Honey, with high levels of antioxidants, can provide protection to healthy human subjects. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 51(6), pp.1732-1735.

10. Lund‐Nielsen, B., Adamsen, L., Kolmos, H.J., Rørth, M., Tolver, A. and Gottrup, F., 2011. The effect of honey‐coated bandages compared with silver‐coated bandages on the treatment of malignant wounds—a randomized study. Wound Repair and Regeneration, 19(6), pp.664-670.

11. Yaghoobi, R. and Kazerouni, A., 2013. Evidence for clinical use of honey in wound healing as an antibacterial, anti-inflammatory antioxidant & antiviral agent: A review. Jundishapur Journal of natural pharmaceutical products, 8(3), p.100.

12. McLoone, P., Oluwadun, A., Warnock, M. and Fyfe, L., 2016. Honey: A therapeutic agent for disorders of the skin. Central Asian Journal of global health, 5(1).

13. Dhuley, J.N., 1999. Antioxidant effects of cinnamon (Cinnamomum Verum) bark and greater cardamom (Amomum subulatum) seeds in rats fed high-fat diet.

14. Shan, B., Cai, Y.Z., Sun, M. and Corke, H., 2005. Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts & characterization of their phenolic constituents. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 53(20), pp.7749-7759.

15. Shalita, A.R., Smith, J.G., Parish, L.C., Sofman, M.S., and Chalker, D.K., 1995. Topical nicotinamide compared with clindamycin gel in the treatment of inelammatory acne vulgaris. International journal of dermatology, 34(6), pp.434-437.

16. Klock, J., Ikeno, H., Ohmori, K., Nishikawa, T., Vollhardt, J. and Schehlmann, V., 2005. Sodium ascorbyl phosphate shows in vitro and in vivo efficacy in the prevention and treatment of acne vulgaris. International Journal of cosmetic science, 27(3), pp.171-176.

17. Feily, A. and Namazi, M.R., 2009. Aloe vera in dermatology: a brief review. Giornale italiano di dermatologia e venereologia: organo ufficiale, Societa italiana di dermatologia e sifilografia, 144(1), pp.85-91.

18. Liu, H., Yu, H., Xia, J., Liu, L., Liu, G.J., and Sang, H., 2014. Topical azelaic acid, salicylic acid, nicotinamide, and sulfur for acne. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (11).

19. Zander, E. and Weisman, S., 1992. Treatment of acne vulgaris with salicylic acid pads. Clinical therapeutics, 14(2), p.247.

20. Shalita, A.R., 1989. Comparison of a salicylic acid cleanser and a benzoyl peroxide wash in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Clinical therapeutics, 11(2), pp.264-267.

21. Gupta, A.K., and Nicol, K., 2004. The use of sulfur in dermatology. Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD, 3(4), pp.427-431.

22. BRENEMAN, DL, and ARIANO, MC, 1993. Successful treatment of acne vulgaris in women with a new topical sodium sulfacetamide/sulfur lotion. International journal of dermatology, 32(5), pp.365-367.

23. Tipoe, G.L., Leung, T.M., Hung, M.W. and Fung, M.L., 2007. Green tea polyphenols as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent for cardiovascular protection. Cardiovascular & Haematological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-Cardiovascular & Hematological Disorders), 7(2), pp.135-144.

24. Toda, M., Okubo, S., Hiyoshi, R. and Shimamura, T., 1989. The bactericidal activity of tea and coffee. Letters in applied microbiology, 8(4), pp.123-125.

25. Sakanaka, S., Juneja, LR and Taniguchi, M., 2000. Antimicrobial effects of green tea polyphenols on thermophilic spore-forming bacteria. Journal of bioscience and bioengineering, 90(1), pp.81-85.

26. Yoon, J.Y., Kwon, H.H., Min, S.U., Thiboutot, D.M. and Suh, D.H., 2013. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate improves acne in humans by modulating intracellular molecular targets and inhibiting P. acnes. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 133(2), pp.429-440.

27. Elsaie, M.L., Abdelhamid, M.F., Elsaaiee, L.T., and Emam, HM, 2009. The efficacy of topical 2% green tea lotion in mild-to-moderate acne vulgaris. Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD, 8(4), pp.358-364.

28. Mahmood, T., Akhtar, N. and Moldovan, C., 2013. A comparison of the effects of topical green tea and lotus on facial sebum control in healthy humans. Hippokratia, 17(1), p.64.

29. Vijayakumar, C. and Wolf-Hall, C.E., 2002. Minimum bacteriostatic and bactericidal concentrations of household sanitizers for Escherichia coli strains in tryptic soy broth. Food Microbiology, 19(4), pp.383-388.

30. Mota, ACLG, de Castro, R.D., de Araújo Oliveira, J., and de Oliveira Lima, E., 2015. Antifungal activity of apple cider vinegar on Candida species involved in denture stomatitis. Journal of Prosthodontics, 24(4), pp.296-302.

31. Wang, Y., Kuo, S., Shu, M., Yu, J., Huang, S., Dai, A., Two, A., Gallo, R.L., and Huang, C.M., 2014. Staphylococcus epidermidis in the human skin microbiome mediates fermentation to inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes: implications of probiotics in acne vulgaris. Applied microbiology and biotechnology, 98(1), pp.411-424.

32. Bae, J.Y. and Park, S.N., 2016. Evaluation of antimicrobial activities of ZnO, citric acid, and a mixture of both against Propionibacterium acnes. International Journal of cosmetic science, 38(6), pp.550-557.

See: Heavy Metal Detox Diet and Foods

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