How to treat your acne at home

Acne can be stressful to deal with. We give you some natural at-home remedies to soothe your skin and ease your mind

If scientists can decipher the human genome why, you might ask, can’t they find a way to eradicate acne? With no sign of a cure on the horizon, it’s up to you to deal with the outbreaks of spots that can damage your self-esteem long past adolescence.When a pimple rears its head, there are several over-the-counter products that can help. But then, so too can simple natural remedies.

 

Raid your medicine cabinet

The first avenue of assault is an over-the-counter cream, lotion, liquid or gel formulated with benzoyl peroxide—the Oxy range or PanOxyl, for example. These work by mildly irritating the skin, which encourages dying skin cells to flake off. This in turn helps to reopen blocked pores. Benzoyl peroxide also kills the bacteria that infect blocked pores.

Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid, slough off the outermost layer of dead skin cells, which helps to keep pores clear and unblocked. Look for any skin cream, lotion or gel that contains glycolic acid.

At the first hint of a pimple, get out an ice cube, wrap it in a piece of cling film and hold it to the area affected at least twice a day—every hour if you can, but for no longer than five minutes each time.The cold will reduce the redness and ease the inflammation.

Take aspirin or ibuprofen. These painkillers are anti-inflammatory and can help to calm an acne outbreak. Take the recommended adult dose up to four times a day. (Do not take aspirin regularly for more than a few days without checking with your doctor, and never give aspirin to a child under 16).

 

Alternative acne treatments

Apply a drop of tea-tree oil to blemishes three times a day to discourage infection and speed up healing. Research has found that five per cent tea-tree oil is as effective against acne as a five per cent benzoyl peroxide solution.

For acne that flares up before a menstrual period, drink 1 to 2 cups of chasteberry tea a day. Some studies show that this herb helps to regulate female hormones, but give it two or three months to work. And don’t drink lots more of the tea to improve the results—it may make your skin worse.

Apply vinegar or lemon juice to pimples using a cotton wool pad. The acids present in lemon juice and all vinegars can help to flush out pores. 

A folk remedy for healing pimples is to use a mixture of spice and honey on them. Mix 1 teaspoon of powdered nutmeg with 1 teaspoon of honey and apply it to the pimple. Leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse off.There’s no scientific proof that this helps, but honey does have antiseptic properties.

Apply aloe vera. One study found that 90 per cent of skin sores were completely healed with aloe vera within five days. Buy a product containing aloe vera, or squeeze the gel from the middle of a freshly cut leaf and apply it to the skin.

 

Keep your skin clean—but not too clean

You may think that keeping your skin clean will prevent blocked pores. But overcleansing can cause acne by stimulating the sebaceous glands to produce more oil. Avoid granulated cleansers.And don’t use a flannel, which is abrasive and may also harbour bacteria. Instead, use disposable cleansing pads.

Make a skin cleanser by adding 1 teaspoon of Epsom salts and 3 drops of iodine to 125ml water. Bring to the boil, let cool and apply on a clean cotton wool ball.

Men: clean your razor with surgical spirit after use to stop any bacteria being harboured.