Having unsightly acne is an embarrassing and often unsightly problem. Getting an appointment with a Dermatologist can take months and is very expensive.
Fortunately, there are many effective acne treatments available for home use. The best treatment choices depends upon the type of acne you are suffering from, as those suffering from more severe acne may need to use more powerful home treatment options.
Click any of the links above to jump to the section below for more details on a particular type of home acne treatment.
The first step in getting rid of acne is preventing it from forming in the first place. Good hygiene and a proper face-washing regimen is key to preventing the formation of acne. There are a variety of cleansers on the market that are all very effective. As a result, I would recommend trying out several different varieties of cleansers and soaps and finding out which works best for you.
Whether or not you get cleanser or just use soap depends on your skin type. Soap can dry out the skin, whereas cleansers tend to be more gentle. Typically you see so-called experts claiming that soap is bad for acne, but it really it depends on how oily your skin gets. Those who have very oily skin often get better results with soap versus a cleanser. Those with dry skin tend to get irritation with using just soap and should instead stick to a cleanser. Women who wear a lot of make-up may want to use a cleanser as well, as make-up removal may irritate the skin.
Regardless of what brand of cleanser or soap you use to wash your face, the order and frequency of your face washing is more important to your home acne treatment than the actual product you are using. You will want to wash your face in the morning and immediately before going to bed at night. More importantly, you want to wash your face before applying any of the acne treatments discussed below. You do not want dirt and oil from your face to block the effectiveness of these treatments.
While face-washing twice a day with a good cleanser (or even soap for those with really oily skin), acne sufferers know that this is not enough to prevent all acne from forming and does little to clear up pre-existing acne, breakouts, or those really unsightly pimples that you want a “spot treatment” to help clear up.
The best home acne treatment for this purpose is Benzoyl Peroxide. Benzoyl peroxide is the active ingredient in some brands of acne products and creams and is the “gold standard” in over the counter acne treatment. This active ingredient is endorsed by a variety of medical associations as being an effective over the counter (OTC) option with minimal side effects. The ideal concentrations that are generally recognized as safe are 2.5% to 10%. Lesser concentrations may not be effective, whereas higher concentrations may harm the skin.
Be careful around your clothes when using benzoyl peroxide. While it works wonders on acne, it also can bleach clothes! If you are using it on your face, put it on after you are already dressed in what you plan to wear, whether that be your clothes for the day or your pajamas. Putting on the benzoyl peroxide first and then getting dressed may result in ruined clothes.
Using benzoyl peroxide can be a little time consuming when used on acne on the back or body since it can stain clothes. Fortunately, you only have to apply the gel or cream 1 time every 1-2 days to get the full effect. As a result, you can just put it on at night. Wear a white t-shirt as your pajamas and you do not have to worry about the cream getting on anything.
Always make sure you clean off the area you want to treat first with a good cleanser or soap. After the skin has been patted dry, apply the benzoyl peroxide gel or cream to the area. If you plan on wearing sun screen or putting on make-up, apply the benzoyl peroxide first, allow it to dry, and only then add on make-up or sunscreen.
Salicylic Acid is another great home acne treatment option that works in a similar method to benzoyl peroxide. While most research suggests that benzoyl peroxide is more effective than salicylic acid, some people get skin irritation from benzoyl peroxide and do not from salicylic acid. Salicylic acid gels and creams make good second-line defenses for those who either do not get results from or suffer from itching or skin irritation as the result of benzoyl peroxide.
Higher concentrations of salicylic acid are often found in OTC “chemical peels”. These are popular and effective for not only reducing acne, but also improving the quality and clarity of skin. You cannot use chemical peels very frequently or you will irritate the skin, so the chemical peel is typically used to improve overall skin clarity rather than as a first-line acne defense.
Only 2% concentrations of salicylic acid are approved for use on the skin for acne for “rub in” creams and gels. Up to 3% concentrations can be used as part of chemical peels or other wash off treatments. Higher concentrations of salicylic can be found for wart treatments, but do not apply this to your skin or acne. This will burn your skin, may lead to infection, and can even cause scarring!
If salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide both irritate your skin, you may want to consider some natural remedies. Two of the most popular remedies are tea tree oil and lemon juice.
Tea tree oil comes from the tea tree (not the tea plant – teabags do not work) and is widely used as an natural home acne treatment. Plants can get infections too, so many plants build their own defenses against infection. The antibiotic compounds produced by the tea tree are particularly potent. Once extracted, the essence and oils of this plant possess these antimicrobial properties.
Since acne is caused by bacteria, this oil can be applied to the skin, allowing its natural antibacterial properties to help fight the infection that causes acne. After it is applied, the oil can be allowed to sit for 5-15 minutes before it is washed off with a gentle cleanser. You do not want to leave the oil on your skin as this may block pores and lead to blackheads.
Those with oily skin may want to consider lemon juice instead of tea tree oil. Lemons are quite acidic and acidity has a great effect on acne (which is why benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are so effective in the first place). The biggest problem with lemon juice is that it is hard to actually apply to the skin.
One good way to get the lemon juice to stick to your skin is by making a mask. You can mix lemon juice with pasteurized egg whites (use pasteurized egg whites to prevent getting sick from the raw egg whites) and apply the mixture the face. The acidity of the lemon juice will cause the egg whites to partially solidify, creating a mask that you can leave on for 15-30 minutes. You can then peel it off, wash your face, and enjoy the benefits.
While not a lot of research has been performed on these natural remedies due to lack of funding, (there is no money to be made in recommending lemons for acne treatment, so no one will fund the research), these treatments are also inexpensive and generally recognized as safe.
While the more severe forms of acne cannot be completely prevented by good hygiene, blackheads typically can be prevented from forming. Blackheads occur when a pore gets partially blocked by cell debris and oils (known as sebum) and typically do not involve in any sort of cell infection. Instead, the sebum is just partially blocking the pore, allowing it to turn dark due to oxidation (the compounds react with oxygen in the air).
Blackheads primarily form when dirt, oil, and cell debris physically get pushed into pores. Blackheads occur commonly on the forehead due to wearing hats as well people resting their hands on their foreheads while working on the computer. Otherwise touching the face throughout the day with a dirty hands or face can also cause blackheads.
Wash your face twice a day is the first step to preventing blackheads. You should only wear clean hats and only put a hat onto a freshly cleaned face. Do not touch your face with dirty hands. Use “lightweight” sunscreen and remove your make-up each day, as these compounds can often cause partial blockages leading to blackheads.
Here is a quick video summing up the recommended home treatment options for getting clear skin once and for all!
There are a lot of great ways to get rid of acne from the comfort of your own home. The most effective home treatment option for most people is benzoyl peroxide, which is the active ingredient in certain gels and creams. Salicylic acid may also work in leiu of benzoyl peroxide if this causes a problem for you. The effectiveness of the natural remedies tea tree oil and lemon juice has not been established, but anecdotal evidence is good, they are inexpensive, and considered safe.