The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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Question

What are the best natural ways to get rid of acne?


Answer

Acne is caused by three factors: your growing skin produces oils to keep the surface flexible, your skin also sheds dead cells so your skin is constantly renewing itself, and bacteria love the free food. The oils and skin cells tend to plug the oil glands, which then swell and look ugly. Bacteria get trapped under the plug and and have a free for all, which causes your skin to swell and redden as your body tries to battle the bacteria.

There are four basic products to help the situation. I'm going to list both natural and commonly found over-the-counter products.

  1. Soap is the first line of defense. It removes excess oil and skin cells, and it kills off a lot of bacteria. So keeping your skin washed will help a lot. The problem is that it is hard to control how much oil you are removing and it can cause the skin to become overly dry.
  2. A very effective and cheap product is hydrogen peroxide. Soak a cotton ball and swab any red areas you see. It stings a slight bit, but it kills bacteria and it dries quickly. It does dry the skin a bit, so limiting its use to affected areas is generally considered best. It will also lighten the red areas so they are not as noticeable. Some people use hydrogen peroxide to even out their skin tones It can bleach hair, so try avoid getting it on your eye brows or hair.
  3. Cleansing products with alpha hydroxy acids, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid soften and help remove excess skin cells. Fewer free skin cells means fewer clogs. Many people, however, find these mild acids to be irritating. Instead of using it everywhere, it is better to use it in spots where the acne is worse.
  4. Products containing tea tree oils or benzoyl peroxide kill bacteria on the surface of your skin. While it can't stop the plugs, it can keep them from getting red and swollen. You can find benzoyl peroxide in a 2.5% and a 10% solution. The 2.5% is actually adequate. Many people find the 10% solution irritating to their skin. For tea tree oil, look for 5% solutions. Benzoyl peroxide should be used carefully as it will bleach out many dyes in various types of fabrics. Most people find a benzoyl peroxide wash better than a cream that sits on the skin.

Generally you will have to experiment to figure out how much, how often, and where you need various products to get good results. Start with daily washing first. If that doesn't work, then try another product for a week or two to see how it goes. If you still aren't getting good results, switch to a different product.

An interesting way to reduce breakouts is to place a clean towel on your pillow every night. This prevents re-infections from the prior day's bacteria and the towel will help absorb some of the excess oils from the face.

If none of these work, the next step would be to see a dermatologist. A dermatologist specializes in the skin and can recommend treatments specifically targeted at your particular problems.