Acne and pimples are one of the most common skin conditions around the world. It can appear out of nowhere and ruin your looks and appearance and sometimes when you try to deal with it aggressively it can end up leaving a permanent mark. Pimples are so common that there are literally hundreds of creams and medicines available at the drugs stores nearby. But you need not always have to depend on over the counter products, especially when you can deal with it naturally at home.
Sebum the main villain
Our skin naturally produces an oily substance called sebum. Sebum essentially protects your inner layers of skin from dust, dirt and other foreign substance. Additionally, it is a natural lubricant to your skin and helps it to retain moisture content. But too much sebum secretion can clog the skin pores which can lead to acne. There are two types of acne, one is acne vulgaris, which appears on your face, shoulders, back, and chest areas as whiteheads, blackheads, and as reddish blemishes. Another type is Cystic Acne which appears as lumps, bumps, and as painful cysts.
There are many reasons cited for the increase in sebum secretion which includes puberty, perimenopause, birth-control pills, pregnancy, hormone imbalance, stress, depression, menstruation etc.. which can trigger both types of acne. A recent study reveals certain drugs and steroids can also induce acne.
Over the Counter Solutions
Benzoyl Peroxide: There are creams and gels available that contain Benzoyl Peroxide. It basically irritates the outer skin layer and makes it fall off, in the process it encourages the growth of new skin cells and unclogs the blocks. Benzoyl peroxide also has anti-bacterial properties so it fights off any bacterias that are infesting your skin.
Alpha-hydroxy acids: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) works on similar lines like Benzoyl peroxide it dries out the outer skin cells and makes it flake off, also removes the blocks clogging the skin pores. If you are going to buy a cream, lotion or gel that contains AHAs then choose the one which has 8 percent glycolic acid.
Aspirin: When you notice signs of an upcoming acne, then take one or two 325 milligram aspirin tablets four times a day. Aspirin has anti-inflammatory property so it can readily act on the acne outbreak and help to suppress it in its tracks.
Ice pack: Whenever you feel like there is an upcoming acne or a pimple in a particular area of your skin, take an ice cube and hold it in place for few minutes but not more than 5 minutes twice a day. If you are free then you can do it every couple of hours. Coldness in ice-cubes will help to reduce inflammation and eases redness that occurs due to acne.
Natural Remedies for Acne
Tea-tree oil: Researchers claim that 5 percent tea-tree oil is as effective as 5 percent benzoyl peroxide solution over acne. Soak a little cotton ball in tea-tree oil and dab it over the acne and blemishes two to three times a day.
Chasteberry tea: This tea is recommended for women who get acne problem during periods. It is believed that this herb regulates the female hormones and keeps it in balance. Drink one or two cups of Chasteberry tea a day and remember this is not an instant medicine. It takes around 3 months to work and to give out any noticeable effect. So, do not get too excited and drink a lot of it, as it may have opposite effect on your skin when you take it in excess.
Vinegar and Lime Extract: Both lemon extract and vinegar is acidic in nature, so it is very effective in flushing out the impurities and blocks in the pores. Soak a little cotton ball in either vinegar or lime extract and dab it over the acne and blemish zone. Do it twice or thrice a day. Apple Cider Vinegar is the preferred option.
Nutmeg and Honey: One of the popular traditional methods for treating acne is using nutmeg with honey. Mix one teaspoon of nutmeg with one teaspoon of honey and apply it to the acne affect area and leave it on for at least 20 minutes and wash it off with water. There are no scientific studies on the remedy to prove it works, but we do know that honey has antiseptic properties so it can help to ward off microbial infections in the acne prone skin.
Aloe-vera gel: Impressively one study found that nearly 90 percent of the participants were able to get rid of skin sores by using aloe-vera gel for just five days. Get organic aloe-vera gel, apply it to the acne, and leave it for 20 minutes and wash it off. Do it two to three times a day.
Zinc Supplement: Research reveals that majority of people with acne also have zinc deficiency. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of people found improvement in their acne condition when they increased their zinc intake. But you will need to take high amounts of zinc intake per day for this to work like 200 to 600 milligrams a day. So do not take it without Doctor’s advice.
How to Prevent Acne
- It is a common belief that if you try to keep your skin as dry as possible you can resist acne and pimples. But this is a wrong idea. When your skin is dry, it triggers sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, because dry skin is a signal that it needs to do the extra work in secreting sebum. So avoid using bathing soaps on your acne prone areas like face, shoulders etc… Instead, make use of mild face wash to wash your face.
- Do not use wet towels and towels of other people to dry your face, this can potentially infest your skin with bacterias, yeast, and fungus which can lead to an acne outbreak. Always use a separate towel for yourself and ensure it is dried properly. Dry it in hot sunlight if possible.
- Do you know homemade cleanser is more effective with acne over the cleansers available in the market? To make your own cleanser at home add one teaspoon of Epsom salt and three drops of iodine to half a cup of water. Heat this water and bring it to boil. Once it has boiled enough turn off the heat and let it cool down. Soak a little cotton into the solution and use it to cleanse the acne prone areas. This will help to clear the pores from blocks.
- Alcohol: Never use shaving razors of your family members or friends, always use new blades if your razor makes use of replaceable blades. Soak your razor in alcohol solution for a minute before using it. Alcohol has anti-bacterial properties so it will clear off the bacterias in the blades.
The big question
It can be said as a natural instinct that we want to squeeze that irritating pimple out of our face and get rid of it. But squeezing can make things much worse. If you really want to get rid of it there is a way which some dermatologists recommend but its applicable only for whiteheads. Take a thin needle and expose the needle tip over candle or match flame for three to five seconds and poke the needle tip gently over the surface of a pimple. Make use of some cotton to clean off the liquid or puss that comes out of it. Soak a cotton ball into hydrogen peroxide solution and use it to clean the acne zone. But never squeeze the acne or pick it during the process it can make it worse.
For blackheads, you can make use of blackhead extractor which can be easily bought from a drugstore. Before using the extractor expose the blackheads to hot water compress for at least 10 minutes to soften it. Make sure your hands are properly washed before squeezing the blackheads. Else, you might be spreading the infection to other areas of the skin.