A promising, new acne remedy uses an herb you might be able to find in your kitchen. The spice thyme has long been known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and new research shows it could be used in place of harsh benzoyl peroxide acne treatments.

Leeds Metropolitan University researchers tested tinctures of thyme, marigold and myrrh on acne bacteria. Each herb was steeped in alcohol for days to extract the active compounds from the plant. Then billions of the acne-causing bacterium Propionibacterium acnes were added to the tinctures.

Thyme had the most potent effect of all the herbs, and destroyed half a million of the bacteria per teaspoon. Thyme was even more powerful than benzoyl peroxide, the popular ingredient found in acne treatment.

A natural treatment such as thyme would, in many cases, be a better solution than benzoyl peroxide which can cause burning sensations and skin irritation. But before making definite conclusions, the researchers need to test the herb in conditions that are similar to the skin’s and see at the molecular level how the tinctures work. In other words, don’t try using thyme on your acne at home yet since it has only been tested in the lab.

Acne Facts

Acne occurs when hair follicles get clogged with oil and dead skin cells. It can pop up on the neck, face, chest, shoulders and back.

People of all ages can get acne:

  • Girls between the ages of 14 and 17
  • Boys between the ages of 16 and 19
  • Of those over the age of 25, 5% of women and 1% of men still have acne

Some factors may increase acne such as a rise in hormones, which can cause the sebaceous glands to get bigger and result in more oil build up in the skin. Certain medications can also cause acne, and some studies show certain diets that are high in carbohydrates and dairy can trigger outbreaks as well. Acne is also hereditary so if others in your family have had it, you may get it too.

Acne Prevention

One of the best ways to combat acne is prevention. Some common ways to avoid acne outbreaks are:

  • Washing your face twice a day. This helps remove dead skin, and extra oil, but use warm, not hot water and a mild facial cleanser.
  • Since many acne products dry out the skin, it is necessary to use a moisturizer that minimizes dryness.
  • Wear light, not heavy makeup. Powder cosmetics are better than cream because they won’t irritate the skin as much. Also make sure to remove makeup before going to bed so it doesn’t clog your pores.
  • Shower after being active. It is important to cleanse your skin after exercising or getting sweaty, so you can remove oil and sweat that may trap dirt and bacteria and clog pores.
  • If you usually get acne on your chest or back, try not to wear tight clothes that can cause irritation.
  • Avoid popping pimples. Of course it’s hard to resist popping pimples, but in truth popping irritates skin and actually spreads the bacteria which causes acne.

Acne can be frustrating and hard to get rid of, but acne problems may soon be vanishing thanks to promising, natural remedies. As with any newly discovered treatment, however, thyme requires further research and development. Remember to consult your doctor or dermatologist before starting any new acne treatments. What works for one person or in the lab may not be a healthy option for you at all.

About the Author

Brian writes with the advice and consent of Dr. Steven Zimmet, an Austin dermatologist who enjoys helping his patients learn how to combat acne and its harmful effects.