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Do Natural Acne Treatments Work?

There is no shortage of prescription and over-the-counter treatments for acne out there, but some people may want to start by trying more botanical options. While at-home or over-the-counter remedies for acne may not be as effective as evidence-based medical treatments, they may provide some benefit. . Everyone’s skin is different, and the solutions that work well for others may not do the same for you. 

If you’re thinking about trying to get rid of your acne with plant-based ingredients, be aware of what the possible treatment options are and how they work. Despite the fact that they are less proven, plant-based at-home treatments may offer benefits for some people. Here are some of the options:

  1. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil naturally reduces inflammation and bacterial presence on the skin, which may make it hard for acne to develop and persist over long periods of time. A recent study showed that regular application of tea tree oil gel reduced moderate and mild cases of acne without causing any notable side effects. Simply apply a few dabs of the oil gel in the morning and evening before you moisturize, and you should be well on your way to clearing up your skin. Be cautious when applying tea tree oil in oil formulation, as oils are known to clog pores, which can promote acne. Thus, the vehicle in which the active ingredient comes is important to consider. 

  1. Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that creates a clear gel substance that has been used for medicinal purposes. It is a common treatment for skin afflictions due to its inherent anti-inflammatory properties. It may help acne lesions through its astringent, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties.While aloe vera is generally considered gentle, one must be careful about its formulations, as the vehicle in which it is formulated for commercial use (e.g. something alcohol-based) may be irritating to the skin. 

  1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is fermented apple cider. It contains citric, lactic, acetic, and succinic acids, which have antibacterial properties in test tube studies. While this may translate to antibacterial effects on the skin surface, to date there are no research studies that have formally tested the effect of apple cider vinegar on acne. More research is needed to characterize if the test tube antimicrobial properties of apple cider vinegar translates to human use. 

  1. Green Tea

Green tea can reduce sebum production and may be able to improve acne severity. Green tea  naturally contains plant compounds known as catechins (a type of polyphenol), which reduce skin inflammation and, you guessed it, have antibacterial properties. 

More Effective Acne Treatments

Botanically-based treatments may be good for mild breakouts or if you’ve got nothing else on hand, but chronic acne should be treated with medical products if you want to see real results. The two most common acne treatments — benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid — are both available in a number of different formulations over the counter. While both products unclog your pores and fight bacteria, benzoyl peroxide is known for its antibacterial nature and salicylic acid for it’s exfoliating effects.. 

Another highly effective family of acne treatments is retinoids, derivatives of Vitamin A. By encouraging high levels of cell turnover, retinoids prevent pores from becoming clogged with the dead skin cells that canform pimples. One retinoid, adapalene 0.1%, is available over-the-counter and is generally recommended as a “starter” retinoid for those who haven’t used one before. Stronger retinoids, such as tretinoin, are available through a prescription. Other treatments such as antibiotics or anti-androgens can also be prescribed by a dermatologist as medically indicated

The sheer abundance of treatments for acne can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help you sort through them. Get in contact with a member of our medical team today to learn about what the best options for you might be.

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