DIY acne treatment remedies

Home Remedies for Acne: What Works Best and Why?

Acne before and after

Acne is the most common skin disorder in the United States, affecting approximately 85% of young people between 12 and 24 years of age. Critical components to diminish physical and psychological concerns and lessen the potential for permanent sequelae include a correct choice of therapy and promotion of adherence to therapeutic regimens by educating patients regarding expected adverse effects, realistic expectations for improvement, and the importance of maintenance regimens. (1)

What Causes Acne?

Acne occurs when there is a buildup of dead skin and oil on the skin surface, which acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. Many factors can trigger acne:

  • Fluctuation in hormonal levels due to factors such as the onset of puberty, menstrual cycle, pregnancy, menopause, or any condition that causes hormonal imbalance
  • Use of contraceptive pills
  • Certain medications, such as those for epilepsy and depression
  • Heavy cosmetic makeup
  • Friction on the skin caused by bike helmets, sports equipment, or backpacks
  • A family history of acne

Acne occurs when the pores of your skin become blocked with oil, dead skin, or bacteria. Each pore of your skin is the opening to a follicle.

What are the Types of Acne?

Acne can manifest itself as:

  • Pimples
  • Solid raised bumps called papules
  • Pus-filled surface bumps called pustules
  • Cystic acne that occurs as a result of cyst formation
  • Deep, firm pus-filled bumps called nodules
  • Large deep pus-filled pockets called abscesses
  • Whiteheads are caused by a blockage of tiny hair follicles by sebum and dead skin and are formed at the tip of every pimple
  • Blackheads, are formed when a hair follicle is blocked at the surface of the skin

How is Acne Diagnosed?

Acne can be diagnosed by examining your body parts. The severity of your condition is determined by the number of acne spots, degree of inflammation, and pain intensity.

Acne can be categorized into four grades:

  • Grade 1 is the mild form of acne, restricted to white and blackheads, with a few papules and pustules.
  • Grade 2 is the moderate form of acne, which encompasses the face with multiple pustules and papules.
  • Multiple pustules, papules characterize grade 3 acne, and inflamed nodules extended to the back and chest.
  • Grade 4 is the severe form of acne marked by large painful nodules and pustules.

What are the Conventional Treatments for Acne?

Several over-the-counter topical creams and ointments are available to treat acne. Usually available in topical forms, these treatments work by eliminating the excess oil from the skin and reducing the appearance of new pimples.

Treatments for acne - before and after

Standard acne treatments include topical and oral medications containing:

  1. Antibiotics
  2. Retinoids
  3. Hormonal agents

What are Simple Ways to Deal with Acne?

Although there is no definitive cure, many simple and easy natural remedies use common ingredients in your pantry and refrigerator to prevent or minimize the problem.

Instead of spending a fortune on beauty products and side-effect-laden expensive treatments, try to include natural solutions in your skincare routine and see your pimples fade away.

Note: These remedies do not treat pimples overnight, and it takes a while to get results. What may work for one might not be a solution for another.

These remedies do not treat the pimples overnight and it takes a while to get results. What may work for one might not be a solution for another.

1. Give Your Skin a Gentle Oatmeal Rub

Oatmeal is beneficial in reducing acne as it cleanses your skin pores and absorbs excess oil. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nature helps clear the acne away.

An added perk is it can exfoliate your skin and help scrape away dead skin cells.

A study published in 2012 in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology supported the effectiveness of oatmeal on various dermatologic diseases caused by inflammation such as atopic dermatitis, acneiform eruptions, pruritus, and viral infections.[2]

Oatmeal Scrub Recipe

  1. Mix 1 teaspoon of honey and the juice of half a lemon in 1/4 cup of cooled cooked oatmeal.
  2. Gently rub this mixture on your skin.
  3. Leave it on for 30 minutes, and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
  4. Do this once or twice a week.

Oatmeal scrub for acne

It can absorb oil and soothe the skin, making it the perfect acne treatment mask ingredient. Just mix together 2 tablespoons of oatmeal, 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a bit of water. Spread the concoction onto your skin, wait for a little, and rinse it off with warm water. You’ll never look at oatmeal the same way again.

1. Apply a Paste of Aspirin

Aspirin contains acetylsalicylic acid, which is related to salicylic acid, the key ingredient of several over-the-counter topical acne treatment products.[3][4][5]

This chemical compound can reduce inflammation and fade the pimple eventually.

Aspirin Paste for Acne Recipe

  1. Crush one aspirin in enough water and make a paste.
  2. Use a cotton swab or Q-tip to apply the paste directly onto the pimple.
  3. Rinse it off after 10 minutes with warm water.
  4. Repeat once or twice a week.

Use powdered aspirin or completely crush a few tablets (not soft gels). Combine the aspirin powder with 1 tablespoon of warm water to create a paste. Wash your face with your normal cleanser. Apply the aspirin paste directly to the acne.

2. Try Lemon Juice

The acidic property of lemon can be very useful in treating acne. Lemon cleans out the dirt accumulated in the pores and hardens the sebum. You can use it on your skin daily, but if it is too drying, use it every 2 or 3 days.

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Physics stated that lemon juice inhibited the growth of Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus epidermidis, which can cause acne.[6]

How to prepare Lemon Juice Acne Treatment

  • Rub a slice of lemon on the affected area and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes before rinsing your face with water.
  • You can also mix lemon juice with rose water in equal amounts, apply it on your face and then rinse it off after 15 minutes.

3.Lemon with yogurt

Add lemon juice to yogurt and apply it to the acne:

  • Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into ½ cup of unflavored yogurt.
  • Whisk it well to form a smooth blend.
  • Clean and dry your face.
  • Apply the blend to the acne and massage lightly in circular motions.
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes, then rinse it with cool water.
  • Pat dry and moisturize your skin.

Apply this mask 2 or 3 times a week to get rid of acne in 1 month.

If you’re using lemon juice as a spot treatment to get rid of breakouts, apply it carefully to your pimples with a cotton swab. Leave on for a few seconds and rinse your face with lukewarm water. Repeat a few times a day as needed on a short-term basis until your blemishes disappear.


4. Dab Tea Tree Oil

Another popular natural treatment for acne is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil acts as an antiseptic and disinfects the pores.[7]

A 2007 study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology found that topical 5 percent tea tree oil is an effective treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris.[8]

In addition, it helps kill the bacteria that cause acne.

  • Just apply 1 drop of tree tea oil mixed with 1 drop of coconut oil or jojoba oil to the affected area three times a day.
  • If the application of tea tree oil causes skin irritation, redness, or excessive dryness, then use tea tree oil diluted in water or mix it with aloe vera gel and then apply.

5. Apply Aloe Vera Gel

The soothing and anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera can treat acne in a matter of a few days. Aloe vera gel is also helpful in healing the scars caused by acne.[9][10]

A study published in the Asian Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that oral intake of aloe vera juice may be helpful in patients with mild to moderate acne vulgaris by decreasing the non-inflamed and total facial acne lesion counts, but this beneficial effect is not significant when compared with that of the controls.[11]

  • You can buy aloe vera gel from the supermarket or grocery store or get pure aloe vera gel by cutting a leaf off an aloe vera plant and scooping the gel out of it. Apply the aloe vera gel to the affected areas twice daily for 20 minutes.

6. Put an Ice Pack

Using an ice pack can constrict your pimple by decreasing the blood supply to it. Applying an ice pack can help reduce inflammation by reducing its swelling and redness.[12]

  • Wrap 2–3 ice cubes in a washcloth or paper towel and place it on the affected areas for a while.

7. Use Basil

Basil is a renowned herb used in traditional medicine to treat various disorders.

This is because basil abounds in potent antiviral and antibacterial properties that can help get rid of various skin and health conditions such as acne, rashes, eczema, fever, and sore throat, to name a few.

Basil can help counter the pimple-causing bacteria P. acnes and, in turn, heal the acne outbreak.[13]

A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Sciences supported the efficacy of formulations containing sweet basil oil over those containing holy basil oil against P. acnes.[14]

  • Consume basil tea to avoid acne that is a result of hormonal imbalance.
  • You can use holy basil tea as a topical solution to spritz on your skin as a toner.
  • Alternatively, you can add basil essential oils in your homemade face masks, exfoliating scrubs, or cleansers.

8. Apply a Speck of Toothpaste

The toothpaste you regularly use to clean your teeth can also help clear up an acne problem. This is, in fact, one of the most accessible home remedies for acne. The toothpaste will reduce the swelling and dry out the acne.[15]

  • Apply a small amount of white toothpaste to the affected area before bed. if you have somewhat sensitive skin, you can rinse it off after 5 minutes or leave it on overnight. Within a day or two, you should see significant improvement.

9. Rub Garlic

The topical application of garlic can help clear the acne on your skin.

The antibacterial compound in garlic called allicin gives it its antiseptic properties that help fight the bacteria in your skin.[16]

A 7.5 percent concentration of garlic juice has anti-acne activity towards Propionibacterium acnes.[17]

  • Directly apply half a garlic clove to the blemish. Wash it off after 5 minutesBe careful not to use fresh garlic near the eyelids, lips, or sensitive skin areas.
  • Alternatively, you can make a garlic paste and rub its juice directly on your pimples.

10. Smear the Paste of Turmeric

Turmeric has been a part of the skincare routine of South Asian women for a long time.

The bioactive component of turmeric, curcumin, is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and wound healer.

With all that it offers, turmeric has therapeutic effects on acne-prone skin.[18][19][20]

  1. Use 1 teaspoon turmeric and enough coconut oil to make a paste. Alternatively, mix ¼ teaspoon of turmeric and 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel to make a paste.
  2. Apply this paste on the acne-prone skin and the surrounding areas.
  3. Let it sit for 15 minutes. Wash it off after that.
  4. Apply this paste for three to four times a week as needed.

11. Use Green Tea

Green tea contains an abundance of phytochemicals, namely, flavonoids and tannins. These biomolecules can help fight inflammation and bacteria and reduce sebum production, which can cause pimples and acne.

Green tea also contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which can help counter the production of sebum, inflammation, and the production of P. acnes in people with acne-prone skin.[21]

It has also been found that the topical application of 2–3 percent green tea extract on the skin can curtail the production of sebum and pimples in people with acne.[22]

Green tea has made it in the beauty industry in the form of body washes, face washes, creams, and lotions.

You can prepare your own green tea solution to care for your acne-prone skin.

  1. Put a green tea bag in boiling water for 3–4 minutes. Let it steep.
  2. Allow it to cool.
  3. Take a Q-tip or a cotton ball, dip it into the solution, and apply it on your skin. Alternatively, you can pour the solution into a spray bottle and use it when needed.
  4. Let the green tea solution dry. Rinse your skin with clean water and pat it dry.

Drinking green tea to cure acne still requires further research.

12. Slather Honey

Honey is an age-old remedy that treats a number of skin conditions.

Aside from being a well-known antibacterial and wound healer, honey is replete with antioxidants that can help clear debris from clogged pores.[23][24]

  • Clean your hands. Drizzle a little honey onto the pimples using a finger or a cotton pad.
  • Additionally, you can also add honey to your face masks.

13. Use Powdered Orange Peel

The acidic property and high vitamin C present in orange make it a perfect remedy for acne. You can use the orange juice and its peel, but the peel is more effective.[25][26]

  1. Keep some orange peels in the sun and let them dry out completely.
  2. Grind the dried peels into a powder and add water to make a paste.
  3. Apply the paste on the affected area and leave it on for 10–15 minutes. Then, wash your face with warm water.

14. Mask It Up with Fenugreek

The herb fenugreek can also be used in treating acne due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiseptic properties.[27]

  • Mix fresh fenugreek leaves with water to make a smooth paste. Apply the herbal paste on the affected area and leave it on for about 10–15 minutes. Then, wash your face with warm water. Repeat the process for 3–4 days to allow the acne to heal.
  • Alternatively, grind 1 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds into a fine powder and add a little warm water to it to make a paste. Apply this paste on the affected area. Leave it for about 20 minutes or overnight, then rinse it off. Do this two or three times a week.

15. Apply a Paste of Indian Lilac

Indian lilac, also known as neem, can be used to treat various skin problems. It contains antiseptic and antimicrobial properties that help kill the bacteria that cause acne. Also, it soothes the redness and inflammation of skin breakouts.[28][29][30]

  • Make a paste of tender Indian lilac leaves by adding a little water. Add some turmeric powder to the paste and then apply it on the affected area. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash it off. Do this at least twice a week.
  • You can also apply neem oil a few times a day until you see improvement.

Tips to Follow During an Acne Outbreak

These self-help techniques may be useful:

  • Use a very mild cleanser or soap to wash the affected areas. Use lukewarm water. Extremely hot or cold water can worsen your condition.
  • Avoid washing your face frequently. This can irritate.
  • Avoid picking on your acne. This can worsen your condition and result in scarring.
  • Avoid using makeup and cosmetics when you are experiencing an acne breakout. Use non-comedogenic products that are water-based and are less likely to block the pores on your skin.
  • Make sure to remove your makeup before bedtime.
  • Always take a shower soon after your exercise routine to avoid an accumulation of sweat that can cause acne.

When to See a Doctor

Every 8 in 10 teenagers are affected by acne in the United States. It may happen in mild forms in most cases. However, an estimated 70 percent of the cases of acne may be severe enough to seek treatment. It can take about 4–5 years for an untreated acne condition to settle down by itself.

Consult a doctor if your acne:

  • Has appeared in a cluster with cysts and redness
  • Is worsening
  • Is not improving even after months of care and use of over-the-counter medications
  • Is causing your face or body to form scars

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