As if living through the teenage years isn’t hard enough (for the kids and their parents), acne raises its ugly heads on about 85 percent of these young folks. A single pimple can seem like a mountain, and several, well, you don’t even want to go there.
In a previous article on teen acne published on Naturally Savvy, we looked at seven basic natural ways to manage this dreaded skin condition. Now we want to introduce seven more remedies that have been shown to be effective for some teens. Remember: you won’t see dramatic changes overnight, so give any remedy you try a few weeks to produce results. Fighting acne from the inside and the outside takes time.
Get gritty naturally. Gently exfoliating the skin is critical for removing dead skin and other debris. If you choose a commercial scrub, however, you introduce harsh chemicals that can make the acne worse. Instead, combine a base of 2 tablespoons of coconut oil or honey with 2 tablespoons of a gritty substance, either sea salt or ground oatmeal. The oil or honey will help battle the bacteria, Candida, and fungi that are populating the skin while the grit will help remove the undesirables.
The secret is to exfoliate gently using a circular motion. When you are done, remove the remaining exfoliate with a damp cloth and rinse the skin well with cool water.
Bet on basil. Both holy basil (Ocimum sanctum L) and sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum L) are helpful as a topical treatment and as a tea for fighting acne. In a study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science, these two essential oils were tested against Propionibacterium acnes, the bacterium linked to acne. Formulations containing sweet basil oil showed higher activity against the bacteria than those containing holy basil, although both were effective.
You also can choose to drink holy basil oil tea (aka, Tulsi tea), which supports healthy hormone and blood sugar levels. Since these two factors are involved with the development of acne, drinking this tea can be helpful. If you prefer to wear the tea, go for it! Cooled sweet or holy basil teas can be used on affected areas.
Try probiotics. Although all the evidence isn’t in yet, some research suggests probiotic supplements can be a safe treatment for acne. We already know that probiotics support the immune system and digestion, so for this reason alone the beneficial bacteria could help with acne. Choose a supplement that provides a least three to five different species of bacteria.
In a 12-week study of 45 women with acne, three groups were tested: one received a probiotic supplement, one received minocycline (a common acne treatment antibiotic), and the third took both probiotics and minocycline. All of the groups showed significant improvement in acne lesions, but the most was seen in those who took both the probiotic and minocycline. It’s especially important to take probiotics if your doctor has prescribed antibiotics, because the drugs destroy healthy bacteria. The probiotics will help you maintain a healthy bacterial balance in your gut.
Get guggul. An ayurvedic herb called guggul (aka, guggulsterone) was shown to be better than the antibiotic tetracycline in the treatment of cystic acne in a study appearing in the Journal of Dermatology. Individuals who took 25 mg guggulsterone twice day for three months outperformed 500 mg of tetracycline. The herb was especially beneficial for participants who had oily skin.
Wear orange peels. Don’t throw away those orange peels! Grind up the peels from two oranges (a food processor works great) and add just enough water to make a paste. Spread the paste on the affected areas and keep it on for 20 to 25 minutes. Rinse off the peel with cool water, pat your face dry, and use an all-natural moisturizer. The citric acid and astringent property of orange peel are the secret to this acne treatment.
Go bananas. Here’s a great way to utilize banana peels: rub them on your face and other affected areas. Don’t wash it off for 30 minutes, then wash with cool water, pat dry, and moisturize. The potent antioxidant called lutein is found in the peels, and it can help reduce inflammation while promoting healthy cell growth.
Tea time: Green tea can be helpful both topically and internally for managing acne. It contains a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to reduce inflammation, bacterial growth, and the production of sebum (wax-like substance in acne pimples). Here’s how to use green tea leaves for your acne.
Pour 4 ounces of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of loose organic green tea leaves or 1 green tea bag. Allow to steep for 5 minutes, strain the leaves, and allow the tea to cool. Apply the cooled tea to your face or other affected areas with a soft cloth, spray bottle, or use the tea bag directly. After about 10 minutes you can rinse your face with cool water or leave the tea on-it’s invisible!
Drinking green tea also can battle acne. In a study of post-adolescent women with moderate to severe acne, the 64 participants were randomly assigned to take 1,500 mg of decaffeinated green tea extract or a placebo daily for 4 weeks. Women who took the green tea extract showed significant differences in inflammatory lesion numbers, especially on the nose and around the mouth and chin. For best results, wear and drink green tea!
Image via Jullen Haler
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Jung GW et al. Prospective, randomized, open-label trial comparing the safety, efficacy, and tolerability of an acne treatment regimen with and without a probiotic supplement and minocycline in subjects with mild to moderate acne. Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery 2013 Mar-Apr; 17(2): 114-22
Lu PH, Hsu CH. Does supplementation with green tea extract improve acne in post-adolescent women? A randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled clinical trial. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 2016 Apr; 25:159-63
Viyoch J et al. Evaluation of in vitro antimicrobial activity of Thai basil oils and their micro-emulsion formulas against Propionibacterium acnes. International Journal of Cosmetic Science 2006 Apr; 28(2): 125-33