Acne is a skin condition often associated with the hormonal imbalances of teenagers, yet twice as many adults suffer from acne as teens. There are a number of commercial or pharmaceutical products for acne, some work better than others. There are also a number of natural remedies that have proven effective at controlling the condition.
Lifestyle guidance usually given to those who suffer adolescent or adult acne include dietary changes, such as avoiding greasy and fried foods, milk and milk products, highly processed foods, sodas and foods containing high fructose corn syrup. Food allergies can cause or exacerbate acne too.
Meticulous cleanliness can control a tendency to break out, and dermatologists warn that popping pimples can cause infection, leaving pits and scars that can last a lifetime.
Internal Remedies: Some herbs claim efficacy in treating acne internally, including echinacea and goldenseal, which promote healing and reduce inflammation. Burdock and dandelion roots contain insulin, which improves skin condition by removing bacteria from the system. These roots are also rich in vitamins and minerals, providing a tonic effect on a sluggish liver to improve the ability for it to provide hormone balance and remove excess hormones and toxins in the blood. Milk thistle is the most commonly used her for cleansing and strengthening the liver as well as to stimulate bile production and remove excess hormones and toxins. These herbs can be taken as tincture or tea. The herb basil has phenomenal medicinal effects on all body systems. A soothing basil tea after dinner promotes good digestion and peaceful sleep while its other systemic benefits go to work through the night. Supplementing the diet with foods rich in vitamin A, beta-carotene and chromium can be useful. Substitute raw honey for artificial sweeteners or sugar in coffee and tea.
Exfoliating Scrubs: Facial scrubs that help to remove the outermost layer of dead skin - which can contribute to acne by blocking the normal excretion of oil from subcutaneous glands - is recommended as a first step in thorough skin cleansing. Here is a recipe for a good salt scrub that avoids chemical ingredients that may exacerbate acne or excessively dry out the skin:
1/2 cup sea salt or kosher salt (do not use iodized table salt).
1 cup olive oil, in which fresh rosemary leaves and twigs have been steeped for 3-4 weeks. (Or add a 3 drops of rosemary essential oil to a cup of olive oil).
Mix the salt with the oil lightly and put into a jar. Rub a small amount of the scrub onto skin with a circular motion, then rinse with warm water and pat dry.
Topical Remedies: Herbs that have antibacterial and astringent properties are good to apply to skin after careful cleansing. Aloe vera gel has these properties and is very good for the skin generally. Lavender compresses can be used to relieve inflammation, and rosewater can be applied to relieve pain as well as inflammation.
Astringents are also recommended to shrink pores and tighten the skin around hair follicles. Rather than any alcohol-based over the counter acne pads, try witch hazel on a sterile cotton pad. Walnut leaf decoction makes a useful skin wash, as does a mixture of diluted tea tree oil with lavender and calendula.
Facial masks: A good facial mask is applied to the face as a thick paste (avoid area around the eyes) and then allowed to dry. As it dries it pulls impurities from pores and hair follicles. Some good mask ingredients for acne are egg yolk, baking soda, oatmeal, and crystalized honey.
Mix the egg yolk and enough baking soda to make paste and apply. Or put 1/4 cup of baking soda, oatmeal, OR powdered honey in a small bowl and add enough liquid to make paste. Baking soda should be mixed with water. The oatmeal or honey can be mixed with lemon, grapefruit, apple or tomato juice. Allow the mask to dry for ten to fifteen minutes, then rinse well and pat dry.
There is no magical overnight 'cure' for acne, but a careful skin care regimen can bring clear skin long term and is worth the effort. Using natural ingredients rather than chemical stews and alcohol based applications can help you look your best.