The Top 12 Home Remedies to Treat Acne

cetaphil cleanser for acne

Skin is an indicator of our overall health. This is why beautiful, glowing skin can often be attributed to proper care, nutrition, and a healthy diet. 

cetaphil cleanser for acne

Skin with blackheads, whiteheads and other types can be a sign of oxidative damage, poor nutrition, and hormonal imbalances. It is therefore important to seek home remedies for your acne.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), acne is the most common skin condition. ( 1). Every year, millions of Americans suffer from both occasional and severe acne. 

Around 85 percent of teenagers experience some form of acne. However, many adults also suffer from occasional breakouts. A majority of acne-prone teens and young adults will experience severe symptoms that warrant professional treatment.

Acne can be severe or mild. If left untreated, acne may lead to self-esteem loss and long-term hyperpigmentation scarring. Acne can be caused by genetics, hormone changes, sleep deprivation, stress, and other factors.

There are many home remedies that can be used to treat acne, blackheads and whiteheads as well as hyperpigmentation caused by scarring from acne scars. Here are my top natural home remedies to get rid of pimples, and prevent them from coming back. 

If you have used potentially harmful prescription drugs or topical medication on your skin instead of natural home remedies, it is possible to clear your skin naturally. 

Home remedies for acne include a healthy diet, gentle cleansing, essential oils and balancing hormones. These home remedies can help restore skin health, reduce pimples and other irritations, and minimize scarring.

What is Acne?

Acne vulgaris refers to a group skin conditions that can cause the most severe acne pimples. Acne can be divided into two types: non-inflammatory or inflammatory. You can also refer to acne as mild, moderate, severe, or severe. Sometimes, you will be given a grade for either I, II or III acne. 

There are two main types of acne:

  • Non-inflammatory acne is characterized by blackheads , and whiteheads . Cysts/nodules are not present.
  • Inflammatory acne is usually caused by small infections from P. Acnes bacteria.
  • Nodulocystic (also known as nodulocystic) is a severe form of acne. It causes large cysts and nodules on the skin.
  • Acne Fulminans– A severe form of inflammatory skin disease that affects teenage males’ jaws, chests and backs.
  • Acne mechanica:– Caused by excessive pressure, heat and friction. Athletes often get small bumps and inflamed lesion.

This is how acne is rated based on its type of symptoms:

  • Grade I– mild whiteheads, small pimples and blackheads that are not inflamed.
  • Grade II– Moderate acne with frequent eruptions of pustules or papules.
  • Grade III – Large amount of inflammation, many pustules and papules, as well as some nodules.
  • Grade IV– This is the most severe type of acne. It causes many cysts, nodules and pustules.

Related: Is Dermaplaning Safe? Potential Side Effects and Risks of Dermaplaning & Other Benefits

Signs and Symptoms

Acne symptoms will depend on the specific type of acne someone has and the underlying cause of the skin irritation/inflammation. Acne symptoms include the following:

  • Blackheads are small black spots on the skin that appear around the nose, forehead, and chin. These are also known as “comedones” because debris gets trapped in a follicle.
  • Whiteheads are caused by pus building under the skin. They can also form as a “head”. These are caused by follicles becoming clogged with sebum or dead skin cells.
  • Papules or pustules are small to medium-sized bumps that appear on the skin. They can be round, red and not always have a “head.” These are milder forms of acne, and not as severe than cysts or nodules. 
  • Nodules or cysts are painful and infected pimples. These can develop in deeper layers of skin and become tender or swollen. They take longer to heal than papules or pustules.
  • Hyperpigmentation – Dark spots on the skin
  • Scars are most commonly left behind by nodules and cysts, especially if they’ve been “popped” or taken.
  • Sensitivity to heat, sunlight, and products increases.
  • A decrease in self-esteem, self consciousness and anxiety.

Common Causes

These are the main causes of acne:

  • Excessive oil production and dead skin cells can cause clogged pores. Sebum refers to the oil that is released into the hair follicles and can get trapped under the skin, clogging pores.
  • Bacteria.
  • Hormone imbalances or fluctuations can occur. Oil production increases when androgen hormones are increased. This is common in teenagers and young adults with acne. It’s especially true for women who have irregular periods, PMS, early menopause, or other hormonal conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS),.
  • Poor diets, such as the Standard American Diet, which includes lots of sugar, refined grains, and unhealthy fats, are common.
  • High levels of stress and related problems such as psychiatric disorders like depression or anxiety.
  • Certain medications may be used, such as corticosteroids, androgens birthcontrol pills, and lithium ( 6 ).
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Skin irritation and friction, such as from backpacks and sports equipment, can cause acne breakouts around the forehead, chin, jawline, and back.
  • Predisposition to genetic factors
  • Other causes of inflammation include smoking and other factors.

Although acne was once thought to be more common in teen years, it is now affecting millions. Many of these women have never had any problems with acne before. 

While some women and men will experience acne only during puberty or their teenage years, others will continue to suffer through adulthood, particularly during hormonal shifts and times of stress. 

Although acne in adult women is often linked to hormonal changes and imbalances during menstruation or transitioning into menopause it’s important that you consider other root causes such as elevated stress levels, poor nutrition, and lack of sleep.

An analysis published in the Archives of Dermatological Research showed that adult female acne is linked to sleep deprived, stress and other aspects of modern life. 

Researchers point out that modern life is full of stressors such as urban noises, socioeconomic pressures, and light stimuli. Stress in daily life is particularly harmful to women. Women are also at higher risk for developing psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression. 

These factors are compounded by sleep restriction, which has several adverse consequences for health, including hormonal secretion, the immune system, and overall health.”

Related: What is Microdermabrasion? This skin procedure has both benefits and risks

cetaphil cleanser for acne

Conventional Treatments

Many people choose to live with their acne or resort to chemical treatments or medications that can cause side effects, or don’t work at any level. 

The doctor can prescribe medication to treat acne. This includes cleansers, gels and antibiotics. These prescription and over-the-counter acne products can cause irritation to skin already sensitive or inflamed. Therefore, it is important not to continue using them.

Doctors say which treatment is best for acne?

  • Benzoyl peroxide (HTM0_) and salicylic Acid are two ingredients in many acne treatments. Sometimes, concentrated vitamin A derivatives are used in combination with zinc or sulfur compounds.
  • Benzoylperoxide kills bacteria in pores and prevents pore clogging. Although it can reduce inflammation, redness, and infections, it can also cause dryness, burning, and peeling. To test your reaction, always start with a lotion containing 2.5 percent benzoylperoxide.
  • Salicylic acid, another active ingredient, is used to remove excess cells that trap bacteria and sebum inside pores. This can cause skin irritations, such as reddening and dryness. You should start with products that contain 0.5 percent to 3% salicylic acid.
  • Sometimes, dermatologists prescribe antibiotics to reduce bacteria buildup in the pores. Some antibiotics that are prescribed for acne treatment include clindamycin (doxycycline), erythromycin and tetracycline.
  • How can dermatologists treat acne scars once the problem is solved? To remove dark spots and scarring, a peel may be recommended. You should protect your skin from the sun, as peels and other acne treatments can make you more sensitive to light.

Acne Home Remedies

Every person’s skin is unique, so it is important to consider the multidisciplinary approach needed to effectively treat acne breakouts at-home. 

To get the best results, you can combine the home remedies for acne listed below. Keep in mind, however, that you can overcome acne but it is also important to avoid making the most serious mistakes that could cause skin irritation and scarring.

  • Picking blemishes
  • Do not use harsh chemicals or cleansers to cleanse your skin.
  • To combat acne, it is important to believe that only the skin needs to be treated.
  • Don’t give your skin the chance of adapting to new care
  • Failure to keep properly hydrated
  • You can’t treat acne from the outside if you don’t start treating it internally.

1. Make sure to clean your skin gently

To get rid of stubborn pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads, you need to cleanse your skin gently. To cleanse your skin without irritation, try my Homemade honey face wash

It contains honey, cocoa oil, probiotics, and essential oils (like teatree oil). The coconut oil and honey soothe the skin while the tea tree oil stimulates the skin. 

Massage the skin using warm water. Rinse well, and dry with a towel. This should be done every morning and night, and if necessary, after a workout. Avoid using more frequent cleansing as it can cause skin irritation and excess oil production.

Commercial hair products could be responsible for acne around your hairline. Shampoo, conditioners, gels, mousses, and hair sprays can contain acne-causing chemicals, such as silicone, petroleum, parabens and silicone. 

My Homemade Honey Citrus shampoo is free of harmful chemicals, and will leave your hair soft and manageable. Use coconut oil or my Conditioner made with apple cider vinegar and essential oils.

Makeup and skin care products can also cause acne, just like hair products. Common culprits include mineral oil, aluminum and retinyl Acetate. You should always read the label before applying these chemicals to your skin.

2. Tone to restore pH balance

Toning is an essential step in skin care. Toning helps remove residue from cleansing and restores the skin’s natural pH.

Pure Apple cider vinegar can be used as an evening or morning toner (with the mother cultures). Apple cider vinegar is rich in potassium, magnit and acetic acid.

It also contains various enzymes that kill bacteria. Chronic acne may be caused by bacteria and fungi which continue to grow and spread on the skin’s surface. Use a cotton ball to apply ACV to the skin, paying special attention for acne-prone areas and active breakouts.

3. Use healing masks

Applying masks to your skin a few times per week can help you hydrate and heal it. You can make soothing masks with yogurt, honey, cinnamon and other ingredients. These masks will help fight acne-causing factors. These are two home remedies for acne that are simple to make.

  • Yogurt and honey mask: Combine one tablespoon of raw honey and one tablespoon yogurt. Apply the mask to your face, paying special attention to your hairline, jawline, and other areas that are susceptible to acne. Allow to dry for 10 minutes, then gently wipe it off with a damp towel.
  • Cinnamon and Honey Mask : Combine two tablespoons of honey, 1 teaspoon coconut oil, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Smoothen over the face. Avoid contact with your eyes as cinnamon can irritate the eyes. After relaxing for five to ten minutes, gently wipe off with a damp cloth. Honey combined with cinnamon can help fight acne due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

If you have an active breakout, add a few drops of Tea Tree Oil to one of the masks. Tea tree oil is one of the most effective home remedies for acne.

4. You can exfoliate regularly, but gently.

Acne is caused by both clogged pores and dry skin. ( 9) Proper exfoliation is essential to get rid of buildup. However, commercially available scrubs can be laden with chemicals that can further irritate the skin.

It is easy and inexpensive to make DIY scrubs for acne treatment and skin care. You need something that is granular. 

Good choices include sea salt, brown rice sugar, and ground oatmeal. You also need a base. You can also use coconut oil, honey, and kefir as a base. These bases are effective in fighting bacteria, fungi, and yeastovergrowth. The textured ingredients also help unplug pores and remove old skin.

Make your own exfoliating solution by mixing 2 tablespoons dry ingredient with 1-2 tablespoons base. Use circular motions to rub the exfoliating cream into the skin. 

Begin at the forehead, and work your way downwards, paying special attention to problematic areas. Rinse with warm water and a moist cloth.

5. Spot treat with Tea Tree Oil

Acne responds well with melalecua (also known as Tea Tree Oil). It is used all over the world to treat and prevent infections. It fights bacteria, fungi, and is similar to honey, coconut oil, and cultured milk products.

Medical research suggests that tea tree oil gels containing 5 per cent tea tree oil could be as effective than medications containing 5 peroxide.

Some people may experience slower results from tea tree oil, so be patient. For a home remedy for acne, mix 4-8 drops tea tree oil with one teaspoon coconut or jojoba oils. 

Apply the oil lightly to the affected areas. You may feel a slight tingling, but it is normal to not burn. Tea tree oil can cause skin irritations if applied directly to the skin.

You can also use chamomile oil or aloe vera to reduce inflammation. These are especially helpful if your skin has been irritated by products that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl or both.

6. Holy Basil: Fight Bacteria

Sweet basil and holy basil essential oils were found to be effective in fighting acne caused by bacteria according to a report published at the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences

This study showed that sweet basil oil was slightly more effective than holy basil oil for topical applications. Tulsi or holy basil oil tea (or Tulsi) supports healthy hormone levels and blood sugar. These two conditions are closely linked to acne.

Therefore, daily intake of herbal tea will help to balance hormones naturally and fight acne from the inside. This makes it one of the most effective home remedies for all types of acne. Holy basil tea can also be used topically on the skin to treat acne. 

You can also add sweet basil or holy basil essential oil to any of the exfoliating recipes, cleansers, or masks.

7. Moisturize

Contrary to popular belief acne-prone skin still requires moisturizers. Topicals that dry out the skin can cause the skin to produce more oil which in turn leads to more acne and clogged pores.

What product is best for acne if you have oily skin? Coconut oil is one the most versatile and healthiest oils on earth. Coconut oil can be too heavy for some people, but it is a great moisturizer. In Biomaterials, a study found that coconut oil has the highest level of bacterial activity against acne-causing bacteria. 

Coconut oil beauty products are in high demand because of the lauric acid and antioxidants found in coconut oil. These fatty acids help to hydrate and restore hair and skin.

Warm 1/4 teaspoon coconut oil in your hands to make a homemade moisturizer for your skin. Apply the oil to your clean skin. Allow the oil to sit on the skin for five minutes. Use a dry cloth to remove any oil. You only need the amount of oil that has been absorbed. However, excess oil can cause skin to become red and irritated.

8. Avoid too much sun exposure

Sun exposure is important for acne-prone skin. The risk of scarring from acne can be increased by ultraviolet rays stimulating pigment production cells.

Natural sunscreens are the best choice. You should only be exposed to sunlight for 15-20 minutes daily.

Sunscreens sold in commercial stores are often loaded with toxic chemicals that can irritate sensitive and acne-prone skin. Research has shown that coconut oil and olive oil have an SPF of 8. (14) Apply a small amount of sunscreen to the skin. Avoid direct sunlight between 10am and 3pm every day.

9. Probiotic supplements are available

It is important to remember that acne can be treated both internally and externally. Live Probiotics promote healthy digestion and immune system function, as well as improving skin health through fighting acne. 

A recent study in Dermatology Online journal found that probiotic supplements and foods are safe and effective home remedies for acne. (15) Although larger studies are needed, the study suggests that probiotics can be used to improve gut health and combat acne.

10. Take Guggul

Guggul supplements, also known as guggulsterone, have been shown to be more effective than 500 mgs of tetracycline in treating cystic acne. The study found that 25 mg of guggulsterone, taken twice daily over three months, reduced acne.

But, more importantly, 50% fewer participants experienced acne relapses. The study revealed that patients with oily skin responded better to guggulsterone than those without.

11. Eat A Healthy, Low-Glycemic Index Diet

Low glycemic diets, which don’t contain a lot of refined grains/flour products or added sugar, are proven to be effective in treating acne. 

The Glycemic index is a measure of how fast foods raise blood sugar. Whole plant foods and meats are lower on the glycemic list.

Glycemic load refers to the glycemic index divided by carbohydrates minus fiber. Refined and processed foods will usually have a high Glycemic Index AND high glycemic loads. However, certain vegetables will have a lower glycemic score but a very high glycemic load.

A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that acne can be greatly affected by glycemic load. 

Two groups were formed from 43 acne-prone males between the ages of 15 and 25. One group consumed 25 percent protein and 45 per cent low-glycemic carbs for twelve weeks. 

The other group consumed carbs with no control over glycemic index. This resulted in a higher glycemic diet. The low-glycemic groups had acne at a rate that was almost twice that of the high-glycemic ones by the end of this study.

It is important to eat healthy foods. Here are some tips to help you maintain a healthy diet.

  • Eat lots of berries, leafy greens, and clean protein.
  • Increase your consumption of wild fish, grassfed meat, and cage-free chickens.
  • For healthy skin and treatment of acne breakouts at home it is important to eat healthy fats such as omega-3s rich foods like wild-caught Salmon.
  • Add zinc rich foods like kefir, yogurt and lamb to your diet. A recent study in BioMed Research International found a link between low zinc levels, severe acne and poor skin health. (18)
  • High fiber foods because fiber in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds helps cleanse the colon and promotes the growth of good bacteria.
  • Add Vitamin A-rich Foods into your diet, such as spinach, carrots, and beef liver.

Avoid foods that contain hydrogenated oils, gluten and wheat for acne-free skin.

  • Goat’s milk is a better option than milk. Researchers have shown that dairy products can cause acne. (19) It is important to avoid known allergens, or foods that you are sensitive to, in addition to dairy products.
  • Sugary and carbohydrate-rich foods — Excessive intake of sugar and grains can lead to yeast and candida growth, which can cause acne.
  • Gluten and wheat — These food items cause inflammation in the gut which can also impact the skin.
  • High levels of compounds in chocolate can cause acne. If possible, avoid chocolate. However, if you do eat chocolate make sure it is pure dark chocolate.
  • Fast food and fried foods can cause inflammation.
  • Hydrogenated oils — These are the main cause of oily skin. You can find hydrogenated oils in food like pizza, packaged foods containing soybean oil, corn oil and canola oil, as well as in prepared foods that include vegetable oil.

12. To reduce acne scarring, use essential oils

You may have experienced acne scarring in the past. It takes patience and perseverance to treat acne scars. The faster you treat a scar, then the better. 

Scarring is a common symptom of acne. Scarring is preventable. Never pick, pop, or poke pimples, whiteheads, or blackheads during a breakout!

To avoid darkening scars and making your acne worse, keep out of the sun for 6-12 months. To protect your skin, apply an all-natural sunscreen when you’re out in the sun. 

Apply a few drops of carrot seed oil or rosehip seed oil to any scarring areas twice daily until you see a difference.

Depending on the skin’s texture and tone, coconut oil, lavendar essential oil, honey, and gentle exfoliation may help to prevent scarring. A paste made from raw honey, tea tree oil, lavender essential oil, and frankincense oils can be used to naturally treat acne scarring. You can make a homemade face mask to remove acne scarring.

Side Effects and Risks

Sometimes acne will go away by itself with time, especially if it occurs as a teenager or in stressful times of your life. If you have persistent cystic acne, it is best to see a doctor to get help. This can often indicate a larger problem.

If you have large, inflamed and painful cysts under your skin, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue such as PCOS or a thyroid problem. Talk to your doctor to discuss possible causes and how to treat acne holistically based on your individual situation.

Last Thoughts

  • Acne (acne vulgaris) refers to a variety of skin conditions that can cause acne symptoms such as whiteheads or blackheads, cysts, discoloration, scarring, and pustules.
  • Acne can be caused by clogged pores, bacterial infections or hormonal imbalances or fluctuations. Inflammation, poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep are all possible causes.
  • Toner, moisturizing, balancing hormones and protecting skin from sun damage are some of the best home remedies for acne scarring.
  • You can get rid of acne with home remedies. It’s important that you eat a healthy diet and drink lots of water. Keep up with your skin care regimen. Change your pillowcase once a week to avoid breakouts.

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