Acne is just a four-letter word for many people — but it’s a source of embarrassment for some and pain for others.
The skin condition is caused by three major factors: the overproduction of oil by glands in the skin, blocked hair follicles, and the growth of bacteria. It’s also the most common skin condition in the United States, with approximately 40 to 50 million people suffering from some form of it. Treatment for acne has become a $2.2 billion business. Many acne sufferers have been told by their dermatologist that there is no link between acne and the foods they eat, leading health care providers to hand out more prescription medicines.
However, more research shows this theory is not 100 percent accurate. In 2013, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) suggested there was growing evidence to show there is, in fact, a link between certain foods and acne, especially foods that have a high glycemic index, like white bread, chips, and white potatoes. Also, in non-Westernized societies such as Papua New Guinea, the rate of acne is substantially less, given the country's dependence on unprocessed, natural foods. Acne could, therefore, be a result of diet rather than nature.
In order to combat this problem, many doctors try to treat the symptoms of acne with topical and oral medicines. However, symptomatic treatments just mask the issue — they don’t actually cure it. So before you head to your dermatologist, try some of these at-home treatments. They might be an easy solution for your acne problems.
1. Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is a powerful antiseptic that comes from a tree native to Australia, called the Melaleuca alternifolia. Studies have shown that this strong-smelling oil is antifungal, antiviral, antibacterial, and helps to fight skin infections like acne. It can be very strong, so be sure to dilute the solution before putting it directly on your breakouts, since it can burn and cause dryness to the area.
2. Cut Out Dairy
In 2005, researchers from the AAD found there was a link between dairy and acne breakouts. The study showed there was a positive association between the hormones and bioactive molecules in milk, which can irritate the skin. This relationship is true of other milk-derived products such as yogurt and ice cream.
3. Don’t Use Soap On Your Face
The beauty industry has made the word "oil" a negative term when it comes to skin care. With almost every other product on the market touting “oil-free,” it seems like oil is the enemy. However, this simply is misleading information. By over-washing your face with drying face wash or soaps, your body will just overcompensate and produce more oil. Also, dry skin, like oily skin is prone to more breakouts due to the fact that bacteria and oil can seep into cracked skin.
4. Increase Your Daily Water Intake
Increasing your water intake will help to flush out toxins in your body. And while the AAD doesn’t specifically state that drinking water will decrease acne, drinking water does moisturize your skin and can help reduce acne flares. Also, cutting out non-water drinks such as soda or sugary juices may help prevent outbreaks. Jody Levine, M.D., assistant clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City believes that, “While there is no direct evidence that soda causes pimples, some ingredients may trigger the body to produce acne," Discovery Health reported.
5. Use Turmeric
Turmeric is a spice known for its medicinal benefits, both externally and internally. The National Institutes of Health has even found that turmeric can kill certain cancer tumors. As far as acne goes, the anti-fungal and anti-bacteria properties of turmeric can help to get rid of certain types of pimples faster, such as pustules. Mixing a paste of turmeric and water and then applying it topically can help to reduce inflammation and cut down on the healing time.