HOME REMEDIES TO TREAT ACNE
About the time girls and boys enter puberty, acne may strike. Acne (acne vulgaris) goes by many names: zits, blackheads, pimples, bumps, blemishes, and more. Adolescence marks a time of hormonal surges, including an abundance of male hormones from the adrenal gland. Among other actions, these hormones increase the skin’s oil production. If the pores to the oils glands become clogged, localized inflammation and infection—redness, swelling, and pus—can result.
In ancient Greece and Egypt civilisations, sulphur was used to treat acne. Abundantly available, sulphur was prepared by early alchemists in the form of a cream to improve conditions such as acne and other skin ailments.
GREEN TEA WASH
1 green tea bag
Preparation and Use: Brew a cup or small bowl of green tea. Let cool to the touch. Apply to the affected area with a clean cloth. Tea is astringent, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial. It is found that a 2 percent green tea lotion reduced acne.
ESSENTIAL OIL LOTION
2 drops pure tea tree or lavender essential oil
1 teaspoon (5 g) Aloe Vera gel
Preparation and Use: Blend the tea tree essential oil with the aloe gel. Dot the mixture on blemishes using a cotton swab or clean finger. Tea tree and lavender are both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. Lavender smells nicer and can be applied without dilution. Aloe Vera is also anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. In addition, it reduces discomfort and speeds healing. Topical applications of 5 percent tea tree oil gel have been proven as effective as benzoyl peroxide (Oxy-5) and other commercially available products.
ESSENTIAL OIL FACE SPRITZER
½ cup (120 ml) Witch Hazel
½ cup (115 g) Aloe Vera gel
20 drops Lavender essential oil
Preparation and Use: Place the ingredients in a clean spray bottle and shake until combined. Mist over your face. This is a soothing and reviving elixir. Witch hazel extract, which you can find in most drugstores, is an astringent. It can be used alone to gently clean the skin. It also tones the skin and decreases inflammation. This mixture stays good for one week.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR WASH
½ cup (120 ml) water
2 tablespoons (28 ml) Apple Cider Vinegar
Preparation and Use: Pour the water and vinegar into a small, clean bowl. Stir to combine. With a cotton swab or cotton ball, dab the diluted vinegar on each blemish. (Use one swab or ball per blemish to keep infection from spreading.) The application may briefly sting, but that should soon stop. Apply in nights for best results. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is an antiseptic and helps regulate skin acidity.
Warning: Because undiluted vinegar may irritate the skin, always start with a 1:8 dilution of vinegar to water (e.g., 2 tablespoons [28 ml] of vinegar to 1 cup [235 ml] of water) and build up to 1:4 and, if possible, to vinegar only.
YOGURT HONEY MASK
¼ cup (60 g) plain yogurt
1 tablespoon (20 g) honey
Preparation and Use: In a small bowl, blend the yogurt and honey. Mash the strawberries and fold into the yogurt mixture. Pull back your hair and wash your face with warm water. Use a cotton ball to spread the mask onto your face. Recline for 10 minutes while the fruit and milk acids do their work. Wash with cool water and pat dry with a clean towel. Yogurt contains lactic acid and strawberries contain several fruit acids, primarily citric acid. These acids help remove dead skin cells and unclog pores. Honey is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant.
Note: Alternatively, dab on straight honey, allow it to dry, and then rinse.
1 fresh pineapple
Preparation and Use: Slice away the sides of the pineapple, separating the fruit from the rind. Set the fruit aside in a bowl. Rub the inside of the rind on your face. Mash a single slice of pineapple and rub it onto your face. Let the pineapple juices work for about 15 minutes—while you enjoy eating the fruit. Wash your face and pat it dry with a clean towel. Repeat weekly as needed. Pineapple contains an anti-inflammatory enzyme called bromelain and fruit acids (mainly citric acid), which gently exfoliate the skin, unblock pores, and dry excess skin oil. (A number of over-the-counter anti-acne products contain a type of fruit acid called alpha-hydroxyl acid.)
Warning: Do not apply pineapple to your skin if you’re allergic to it. If you develop any redness or irritation, stop.
BITTER GREENS SALAD
½ cup (28 g) fresh dandelion greens
½ cup (10 g) arugula
½ cup (20 g) radicchio
½ cup (25 g) endive
½ cup (150 g) fresh or canned artichoke hearts
Preparation and Use: Tear the greens into bite-size pieces. Slice the artichoke hearts. Mix all the ingredients together in a salad. Add other favourite vegetables but avoid adding ingredients with sugars, which may cause skin flare-ups. Be creative with this natural cleanser by trying greens you’ve never used before. Bitter foods stimulate the liver, the organ that breaks down hormones and many other chemicals so they can more easily be cleared from the body.
HERBAL STEAM BAG
1 quart (946 ml) water
1 tablespoon (2 g) crushed dried calendula (also called pot marigold) flowers
1 tablespoon (2 g) dried elderflowers
3 drops lavender essential oil
Preparation and Use: Bring water to a boil in a kettle. Put the calendula flowers and elderflowers in a large, heatproof bowl and add the water, covering the flowers. Add the lavender oil and stir to combine. Lower your head over the bowl and cover it completely with a towel. Allow the steam to work for 15 minutes or until it abates. Rinse your face with cool water. Calendula and elderflower have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Note: You’ll find dried herbal flowers in bulk at most health food stores. Also, although calendula (Calendula officinalis) also goes by the common name of pot marigold, it is not the same as marigold (Tagetes erecta, T. patula, and other species). This herbal remedy can also be used as a soothing facial anytime you need it.
FACT OR MYTH?
Myth: Masturbation causes acne. It doesn’t. Neither does how much or how little sex you have. Another is that acne vanishes at the end of adolescence. Although that’s true for many people, blemishes continue for some people into middle age. Another myth is that poor hygiene causes acne. That belief can drive people to scrub their face repeatedly, which only further irritates the skin.
Popping a pimple will help it heal. Hands off! Pimple popping makes the blemish look worse and can leave a scar.
Fact: Exercise is good for your skin. Yes! It improves circulation, making your skin healthy and vibrant. Rinse your face immediately after strenuous exercise because the salt and bacterial build-up can cause an outbreak if not washed away.
Eat whole grains, whole fruits, vegetables, and legumes—all complex carbohydrates that create a relatively slow, steady rise in blood sugar. Studies show eating foods that quickly elevate blood sugar (white bread, pasta, white rice, juices, and sweetened foods and beverages) increases acne. It is found that a low-glycaemic diet, which better controlled blood sugar, improved acne.
WHEN SIMPLE DOESN’T WORK
1. Check your stress level. Severe acne is associated with psychological stress, though it’s hard to distinguish chicken from egg because acne can generate distress. It is known, however, and that taking medicine derived from the stress hormone cortisol (e.g., cortisone and prednisone) can trigger acne.
2. Most doctors say diet has little bearing on acne. A few studies and anecdotal reports, however, link pimples with drinking milk and eating fried foods, potato chips, and sweets. To that reason, we recommend you eliminate junk foods, minimize dairy, and emphasize vegetables, fruits, and fish. Stick to lean cuts of poultry and meat. Notice whether a more wholesome diet improves your complexion.
3. If you’re a woman, you might like to know that some studies show that extracts of chaste tree berries reduce premenstrual acne. You can find herbal extracts at natural food stores.
If the above gentle treatments don’t work, see your doctor.