Alternative Medicine for Acne

Dear Skin Doctor, I am a man in my 20s and I get a little acne on the forehead. I do not want to use prescription medications. Is there any proven alternative medicine for acne?

Alternative treatment for acne includes the use of:

Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree essential oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) is proven alternative medicine for acne. This aromatherapy oil has natural antiseptic properties which are useful for controlling Propionibacterium acne which is the bacteria that is associated with acne. 

A study proved that tea tree gel was effective for treating mild to moderate acne. In fact, it was shown to work just as well as 5% benzoyl peroxide by reducing the acne lesions after 3 months. The down side was that the tea tree essential oil gel took longer to work but it had less of the side effects experienced after using benzoyl peroxide like dryness of the skin, itchiness and a burning sensation. 

You can make your own acne aromatherapy gel by mixing 2.5 ml of tea tree essential oil with 47.5 ml of aloe vera gel which you can buy from supermarkets and health stores in Kenya. Store your natural acne treatment products with tea tree essential oil in a dark container and keep it in a cool place since light and heat makes essential oils less effective. 

Tea tree essential oil should not be used by persons with breast cancer or risk factors for breast cancer (men also get breast cancer). Persons with other hormonal tumors like cancer of the ovary and uterus, or high risk factors for developing them, should also not use tea tree essential oil since it has estrogen-like effects in the body. Women with endometriosis, fibroids and other hormone dependent conditions should also avoid using this essential oil. 

Once you make your acne treatment tea tree gel, apply it to a small area on the inside of your elbow and bandage it. Wait for 24 hours to see if you will develop itchiness, redness, rashes or any other signs of an allergic reaction before you apply it on your face. 

Some studies suggest that zinc can reduce the inflammation that is associated with acne as well as the pimples and cysts. Others have even shown zinc deficiency in persons with acne.

Though zinc supplements are readily available, I recommend increasing your intake of zinc rich foods like beef, chicken, whole grains, dried beans, wheat germ and nuts. This is due to the fact that zinc toxicity can cause serious complications like copper deficiency in the body.

Vitex is one of the acne treatments that have been approved by the German Commission E which is the agency that studies and approves herbal remedies in Germany. 

This whole fruit extract is recommended for treating the acne that develops before the monthly menstrual periods. It is thought to reduce estrogen and increase progesterone levels by working at the pituitary level in the brain. It should not be taken by pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding.  

Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer’s yeast is also recommended by the German Commission E for the treatment of acne due to its antimicrobial effects. 

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