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Most people will struggle with acne, at some point in their life. If they are wise, they will avoid drugs of last resort, such as antibiotics, to treat the condition. Recent studies indicate that the use of antibiotics to treat this epidermal disease may be leading to a drug-resistant “superbug” disaster. Researchers have already determined that prescribing antibiotics, like Tetracycline, to treat acne increases a patient’s risk of contracting MRSA. On the other hand, alternative acne treatments, which take a more holistic approach – naturally treating the acne sufferer inside and out, maybe the key to safely ridding oneself of acne for good.
Alternative Acne Treatments
Alternative acne treatments are most effective when used in concert with other alternative acne treatments. This is especially true when you combine internal and external solutions. Below, I’ve listed (in no particular order) both internal and external natural acne treatments that can be employed separately and in combinations to help you achieve blemish-free skin. However, you are far more likely to succeed in banishing your acne outbreaks forever if you use a combination of internal and external treatments. We’ll begin with the internal solutions.
Internal Acne Treatments
- Dietary change is an important part of an overall acne treatment regimen. Abstaining from foods that are warming and/or cause inflammation decreases your chance of triggering an acne outbreak, as well as slowing the progression of acne you already have. Warming and inflammatory foods include hot peppers and other spicy foods, foods high in saturated fat, coffee, dairy foods that are made with cow’s milk, high-glycemic foods, chocolate, and sugar.
- Take a Beta Carotene supplement (beta carotene safely turns into Vitamin A in the body), 5,000 I.U. to 25,000 I.U. would be best. Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin because it’s required for the normal shedding dead skin cells that can build up inside the pore and ultimately cause acne. It’s also important to consume vitamin A/beta carotene in your diet, but if you are suffering from acne, chances are you need more than you’re getting from your diet.
- Zinc can also help get acne under control, as it not only helps heal the skin, it also reduces hormonal imbalances. How much you will need, depends on your age and gender. See the NIH’s Zinc Fact Sheet for more information on recommend daily allowances.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to great skin, as they maintain cell membranes and aid in the transport of nutrients to the cells. Flaxseed, borage and evening primrose oils are easy, on-the-go sources of omega-3. Flaxseed oil, in particular, reduces inflammation in the body and thins the sebum that can clog pores and cause acne. But all three oils contain fatty acids that improve skin elasticity and texture. Also, borage and evening primrose are both considered especially good for aging skin.
- Clearing the body of waste products is particularly important for those who want to treat and prevent acne, so taking acidophilus (aka Lactobacillus acidophilus) capsules, to improve digestion and prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria, and eating a high fiber diet, for daily bowel movements, is very important.
- Vitamin B-6 is important for women who suffer acne outbreaks just before and/or during menstruation, as Vitamin B-6 helps to regulate and maintain the proper metabolism of the increased release of hormones. But this only works for women. You can read more about treating premenstrual acne here: The Natural Cure for Premenstrual acne.
- Take 500 mg of Vitamin C three times each day with a meal or snack. (Up your dosage to 1000 mg if you are over 30 years of age.) Do not take all 3 dosages at once! Vitamin C is water-soluble, so it works best when it’s replenished throughout the day. Vitamin C has been shown to be effective in relieving cystic acne, which is the most severe type of acne. Leaving cystic acne bumps alone and hoping that they’ll go away naturally is not an option. But picking at cystic acne lesions can lead to scarring, painful inflammation, and deeper infection. Vitamin C is your loophole. It helps to promote the healing, growth, and repair of tissues throughout the body. Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties protect the skin as it regenerates and helps to fade scars and prevent hyperpigmentation. Read How to Remove Scars With Vitamin C to learn more.
- Drink one cup of Echinacea or Goldenseal tea twice per day, once upon waking and again in the evening – 2 to 3 hours before bed. Both herbs help the body fight off infection, kill bacteria, cleanse the body of toxins, and reduce inflammation.
External Acne Treatments
- A honey facial. This is done by putting uncooked honey onto one’s face and leaving it on the skin for five to ten minutes. Honey revitalizes the skin and offers antibacterial activity. This is even true for Manuka Honey (aka non-peroxide honey), whose antimicrobial activity is not dependent on the enzymatic production of hydrogen peroxide. You can read more about that here.
- Tea tree oil has long been used to fight off infection and bacteria topically. It’s even been found to prevent gangrene, saving feet and limbs. To treat acne, apply a thin layer of pure tea tree essential oil to the skin, or dilute it in an oil-free moisturizer, to impede bacterial growth.
- Exfoliants are also an effective way to externally treat acne. Glycolic and lactic acids (both alpha-hydroxyl acids) are a gentle way to remove dead skin cells and prevent them from building up and causing problems later on. If you choose to use lemon juice and/or milk, allow it to dry on the skin for up to ten minutes before rinsing off. If you have sensitive skin, adding water to the lemon juice will help alleviate some of the burning sensations.
- Using a soap or cleanser for “sensitive” skin will help prevent further inflaming the skin. The more natural the cleanser the better. Rosemary and Tea Tree oil soaps would be especially useful. If you can’t find these soaps at a store in your immediate area, you can order them online.
- Make a ‘before bed’ toner, to be used after cleansing each and every night, until your acne is gone. Here are the ingredients: 1/3 cup distilled water, 5 Tb rubbing alcohol, 5 Tb hydrogen peroxide, 2 Tb fresh lemon juice, and 60 drops eucalyptus oil. Shake well to blend. (The alcohol will keep the lemon juice, so there is no need to refrigerate.) You can use every time you cleanse, provided you use a high SPF sunscreen before going outdoors. Lemon juice and sunlight are not a good combination on already troubled skin. And remember, always let the toner dry on your skin before applying moisturizer.
- Don’t skip the moisturizer. But make sure to always use an oil-free lotion or gel moisturizer for ‘sensitive’ skin and add 8-10 drops of tea tree essential oil per ounce. And always apply moisturizer before sunscreen. Sunscreen should always be the final step, a barrier.
- Use an oil-free sunscreen specifically made for the face. Anything else is asking for trouble. Also, wait at least 30 minutes before going outdoors and refresh your sunscreen every three hours thereafter. The spray varieties are perfect for this, especially if you’re a woman who wears cosmetics.
In addition to the aforementioned internal and external treatments I’ve listed, exercising regularly and taking time to relax and decompress – utilizing meditation and massage – are important alternative treatments for acne. Our bodies need to be at their peak to fight any disease. In addition, studies have shown that adult acne is often triggered by stress; this is especially true for men.
What works for one person may not work for another. But whatever method you choose to employ to fight acne, it’s very important that you try your chosen regimen for at least four weeks, preferably eight, before moving on to the next. Alternative acne treatments have the potential to permanently solve even the most severe acne issues, but their rate of success is determined by the individual user: When did they begin treatment? How well did they follow instructions? How long did they stick with a treatment regimen? The answers will vary from one person to the next. But, regardless of whether you go the alternative holistic route or seek conventional treatment, it is always best to begin treating acne as soon as you begin experiencing outbreaks.
Acne is a progressive condition that can move from mild to moderate to severe over time. If you are currently suffering from acne, the most important decision you can make is the decision to seek treatment and to halt the progression of this skin disease.
“Fast Facts About Acne”. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, November 2014. Web. July 2016
Stoefeel, Kat. “Pick Your Poison: Adult Acne or Fatal Superbug”. The Cut, January 6, 2015. Web. July 2016
Annmarie Skin Care. “5 Foods to Eat – and 5 Not Eat – to Reduce Acne Outbreaks”. Annmarie, n.d. <annmariegianni.com>. Web. July 2016
Gremley, Jessica. “Vitamins to Heal Your Acne”. Natural Acne Clinic, June 29, 2015. Web. Web. July 2016
“Zinc – Health Professional Fact Sheet”. National Institutes of Health, February 11, 2016. Web. July 2016
Amerman, Don. “Acidophilus for Acne”. Livestrong, September 8, 2015. Web. July 2016
“The Natural Cure for Premenstrual Acne”. A Guide to Nutritional Supplements, n.d. Web. July 2016
Bowers, Alena. “How to Remove Scars With Vitamin C”. Livestrong, October 15, 2015. Web. July 2016
Manisha Deb Mandal and Shyamapada Mandal. “Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial activity”. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, April 2011. Web. July 2016