What Is Acne?
Did you know that there was a good chance your parents, grandparents and even great grandparents all experienced acne? Yes, virtually everyone alive experienced acne in their lifetime, even though it does not have to be of a severity deemed newsworthy.
The fact is, acne is extremely common, and often results from simple blockage of hair follicles. Hair follicles move sebum, an oily substance from under the skin to the surface, where it may also transport dead skin cells. Sometimes, these small holes on the surface of the skin cells (where hair follicles grow) become blocked, and result in an accumulation of sebum and these dead cells under the surface. A “plug” then forms, which after a few days degrades on its own, inviting bacteria in to feast. This is when “pus” forms, and acne boils or pimples appear. It is also important to note that acne does not occur on the face alone, but can also appear anywhere there is a high density of hair follicles and sebaceous glands, such as the chest, back, legs and even groin.
Common Causes Of Acne (Pimples)
- Hormonal fluctuations resulting from the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or use of prescription or over the counter medications.
- Excess sebum production, which increases the likelihood of a follicle blockage.
- Not properly washing face to remove dirt and dead cells which harbor bacterial colonies.
How To Get Rid of Acne
Tea Tree Oil
In recent years, more and more people have begun to use tea tree oil to help manage acne, thanks in large part to its anti-bacterial actions. Tea tree oil can help to kill bacteria that infect blocked follicles and cause them to become infected in the first place. It also helps to reduce tenderness associated with pimples, and reduce redness.
Steaming your face helps to open up hair follicles, dislodging any material that may be stuck in them. Steam also kills bacteria that may cause pimples, and is approved salon therapy prior to exfoliating, because it is proven to improve the condition of your skin.
Milk of Magnesia
While the primary or most well-known use for milk of magnesia is to treat constipation or excess acidity, it is also very effective in reducing acne outbreaks. Milk of magnesia helps to reduce the amount of sebum produced by the skin, and can also inhibit bacterial growth thanks to its alkaline property. Bacterial are unable to multiply as efficiently under alkaline conditions as they would under acidic conditions.
There is the big misconception that oils are bad for your skin and that they worsen acne, but that only applies to sebum. External oils, such as coconut in particular, is very beneficial to your skin. Coconut oil is an emollient, helping retain moisture and prevent dryness and peeling resulting from usage of some other acne treatments, and also possesses anti-bacterial actions that suppress bacterial overgrowth. Finally, coconut oil is helping in regeneration of skin cells, so that the overall condition of skin does not deteriorate.
Most people know aspirin for its pain relieving properties, but an aspirin crushed and dissolved in water is excellent for preventing acne and treating spots pimples that are already there. To gain maximal benefit, make a paste of crushed aspirin and a little water, and apply to problem areas. Aspirin exerts a dehydrating action that pulls water from the pimple, causing it to dry up and flake away. This is actually the method behind common acne products which include the ingredient salicylic acid as an ingredient, as aspirin is too composed of this ingredient. Leave overnight, then wash off in the morning for best results.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe Vera is one of the most revered plants when it comes to the health of your skin, with acne being on its list of many uses. Aloe Vera is extremely hydrating, meaning that it can help to promote healing of dried and flaking skin due to acne, but what many people don’t realize is that it is also very effective as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agent. Thus, it can help to help pimples faster than you pricking at them, and will reduce the red marks left being from the inflammatory process.
Egg White Face Mask
Egg white face masks are growing in popularity due to the fact that they appear to have a marked effect on acne breakouts and pimples, reducing their severity or duration. Egg whites are said to contain enzymes that reduce sebum synthesis and thus can reduce pimples from occurring. Egg white masks also have an extractive action, helping to remove small blackheads and blockages from hair follicles. For best effect, leave on 30 minutes before washing off.
Hot Water Compresses
Similar to steam, applying a washcloth with warm to hot water (as hot as you can tolerate) and applying to the part of the body affected by acne can work wonders in clearing up breakouts. Hot water opens up follicles to promote removal of material that may be blocking them, and also helps acne pustules to rupture and remove their painful pus. These compresses are excellent for use once or twice a week, as more often can result in follicles actually becoming blocked much easier.
Glycerin is a safe and popular natural alcohol that functions as a moisturizer and humectant, helping prevent excessive water loss. However, that is its secondary benefit, as it also possesses marked anti-microbial action. It also speeds up wound healing, and is commonly used on painful mouth ulcers for these exact reasons. Glycerin can be applied and left on the skin, reapplied up to 3 times daily if the need arises.
If you are looking for an all-natural exfoliant, there is no better option than baking soda. Baking soda can be made into a thick paste and then massaged into the skin to remove blackheads and clear hair follicles. Plus, owing to its alkaline nature baking soda will inhibit the growth of bacteria and reduce the severity of breakouts and pimples. Just don’t leave it on the skin or the face especially for too long, as it can dry it out and cause painful peeling and flaking.
Yes, you read that correctly. Papaya can be extremely helpful for getting rid of acne and the nasty marks they leave. If you regularly use more expensive acne products, chances are some of them have papaya extract in it. However, you can get the safe effects by using crushed papaya- saving you lots of money in the process. Papaya contains enzymes that not only help to dissolve the follicle plugs mentioned earlier, but can also help to remove the outermost layers of skin so that acne marks are reduced. Papaya might just be a trump card you haven’t yet played!
This is claimed to be one of the healthiest foods on the planet, obtained from the Manuka bush solely in New Zealand. It contains several enzymes and has inherent anti-microbial properties, which make it ideal for getting rid of acne. Plus, it is good for you to consume as well. Apply to particularly troublesome areas twice daily and leave on for 30 minutes to improve your skin condition.
Acne is a rite of passage to many people, but does not have to become an arduous task to manage. Universally, the best piece of advice seems to be not pricking the pimples, as this is what typically leaves red or black marks that are difficult to get rid of. Just try some of the remedies outlines above, and your skin’s health and beauty should be preserved for years to come.