How to Get Rid of Acne With Home Remedies

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Acne is an annoying skin condition that occurs in everyone from kids and teenagers to adults and elders. Thankfully, acne is fairly easy to deal with, and there are many home remedies you can use to get rid of your unwanted pimples. However, see your doctor if your pimples don’t go away with home treatments, your acne is widespread, or you may be having an allergic reaction to your acne treatments.

Caring for Your SkinDownload Article

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    Select a gentle cleanser. Washing your face each day is an important part of keeping your skin healthy and acne-free. You'll want a gentle face wash that is non-abrasive. Make sure that any product you use is free of alcohol to prevent further skin irritation. If you're unsure of what the best cleanser for you would be, ask your dermatologist for a recommendation.[1]
    • Avoid facial scrubs or cleansers labeled "astringent," since these can be harsh and drying on your skin.[2]
    • Dermatologists recommend gentle, foaming face washes, such as Cetaphil DermaControl Foam Wash, especially if you’re also treating your acne with drying topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide.[3]
    • Look for face washes that are non-soap based. True soaps can raise the pH of your skin, leading to dryness and creating a better environment for bacteria and other microbes.[4]
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    Wet your face with lukewarm water. Run some clean water from your tap and splash it onto your face.[5] Keep your water lukewarm, since hot water can dry out your skin and make it more irritated.[6]
    • While it might seem like drying out your skin is a good idea if it’s oily and acne prone, you’ll ultimately end up making the problem worse! Your skin will try to heal itself by producing even more oil.[7]
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    Apply the cleanser to your face with your fingertips. Squeeze a small amount of the cleanser onto your fingertips and gently rub it onto your face using circular motions. Use a light touch so that you don’t irritate or pull on your skin.[8]
    • Don’t scrub your skin while washing your face, no matter how tempting it may be. This will irritate your skin and could make your acne worse.
    • Avoid using washcloths, sponges, or brushes to wash the skin on your face, since these can cause irritation.

    Tip: Always wash your hands with soap and water before applying cleansers, creams, or other products to your face. Your hands can pick up germs and oils throughout the day, which can irritate your skin and make your acne worse.[9]

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    Rinse off the cleanser with lukewarm water. Splash lukewarm water on your face to rinse away the cleanser thoroughly. Use your hands to help gently wash away any residue.[10]
    • You may have heard that rinsing your face with cold water after washing it will help close up the pores. In reality, cold temperatures will temporarily tighten your pores and reduce the production of oil from your skin, but will not actually cause your pores to close.[11]
    • It’s okay to use cool or warm water to rinse your skin, but don’t use hot water, since this will cause drying and irritation.
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    Pat your skin dry with a clean towel. Just like scrubbing your face with a washcloth, rubbing with a towel can irritate your skin. Instead, use a clean, dry towel to gently pat the water away when you’re done washing up.[12]
    • Damp towels can make a happy home for all sorts of gross things, like viruses, bacteria, and mold—which can then get into your skin and cause irritation or infections! Switch to a fresh towel at least once a week, and spread your towel out on a bar so it can dry fully between each use.[13]
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    Apply a moisturizer to avoid dryness and irritation. If you have acne-prone skin, you may be tempted to skip the moisturizer. However, drying out your skin can actually make the problem worse. Keep your skin from getting thirsty and irritated by putting on a light moisturizer formulated for acne-prone skin.[14]
    • Look for a moisturizer that’s free of dyes and perfumes, since these can irritate your skin.
    • Since sun exposure can make acne worse for some people, look for a moisturizer that’s also a sunscreen.[15]
    • Dermatologists recommend sun protection moisturizers that are also designed for acne-prone skin, such as Cetaphil DermaControl Moisturizer SPF 30.[16] Moisturizers containing anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as zinc or aloe vera, may be especially helpful.[17]
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    Limit washing to twice a day, or after sweating. While it may seem like more washing would be better for your acne, this isn't true. Washing too much will strip your skin of its natural oils, which will dry it out and irritate it, leading to even more breakouts. Wash your face only twice a day, morning and night. You should also wash your skin after sweating, since this can lead to breakouts.[18]
    • If you wear makeup, make sure to remove it before you go to bed. Sleeping in your makeup can clog up your pores. Wipe it away with a gentle makeup-removing wipe that’s labeled "non-comedogenic" (won’t clog your pores).
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    Use gentle cosmetics. Having acne doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to give up wearing makeup. However, some kinds of makeup can cause breakouts or make your acne worse. Choose products with labels like "oil-free," "non-comedogenic," or "won’t clog pores." If a product causes a breakout, stop using it and try something else.[19]
    • Always wash off your makeup before you go to bed, including any eye makeup.
    • When you’re applying makeup, use a gentle brush to avoid irritating your skin.

Using Natural RemediesDownload Article

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    Treat your skin with tea tree oil once a day to fight bacteria. Studies show that tea tree oil can help treat several skin conditions, including acne.[20] Dilute 2-3 drops of the oil in 1 teaspoon (4.9 mL) of a gentle carrier oil, such as jojoba or olive oil, or your favorite moisturizer. Use your fingertips or a cotton swab to spread it gently over any pimples or inflamed areas.[21]
    • Tea tree oil can calm inflammation and fight the bacteria that cause acne, and it has fewer side effects than many over-the-counter or prescription acne medications.
    • Some people may be allergic to tea tree oil. Before using it on your face, test a drop of tea tree oil elsewhere, like your arm or leg. Wait several hours. If a rash develops, you may be allergic or sensitive to the oil, and should avoid putting it on your face.
    • Tea tree oil is toxic when consumed. Never eat or drink tea tree oil!
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    Try a raw honey and cinnamon mask twice a week to calm inflammation and kill bacteria. Honey and cinnamon extract can work together to fight the bacteria that cause acne.[22] Additionally, cinnamon has inflammation-fighting properties that can help soothe your skin and reduce redness.[23] This is a great alternative to tea tree oil if you’re allergic to it or don’t like the scent. Make a face mask with honey and cinnamon or ask your dermatologist to recommend a product with these ingredients.
    • Alternatively, you could mix 2-3 drops of cinnamon essential oil with 5 teaspoons (25 mL) of a carrier oil, such as jojoba or olive oil, and mix that with the honey to create the mask.[24]
    • Before applying the honey and cinnamon mixture to your acne, dab a small amount around your jawline. Wait about 30 minutes to see if you have an adverse reaction. If so, do not apply this mixture to your acne.
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    Apply green tea lotion twice a day to reduce inflammation and prevent breakouts. Green tea contains natural chemicals called polyphenols that can help calm inflammation, kill bacteria, and even reduce the amount of oil that your skin produces! Apply a lotion containing 2% green tea extract twice a day to help calm your skin and prevent future breakouts.[25]
    • Green tea lotions can cause mild irritation in some people, such as temporary stinging or itching. However, these symptoms usually get better as your skin gets used to the lotion. If your symptoms don’t go away within 2-3 days after starting your treatment routine, stop using the lotion and talk to your doctor.
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    Minimize scarring by putting on an onion extract gel once daily. Acne scars can be as distressing and embarrassing as the acne itself, but fortunately, there are natural remedies that can help! Apply a gel or cream containing onion extract to acne scars once a day to soften the scars and reduce their appearance.[26] Follow the directions on the package carefully to determine how much you should use.
    • Onion gel can cause irritation in some people, so test a small amount of it on another part of your body (such as your arm or a spot behind your ear) before applying it to your face.[27]

Minimizing Acne with Proper DietDownload Article

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    Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Water is one of your skin's essential needs. If you don’t drink enough water, your skin can get dried out, even if it’s usually oily.[28] In turn, having dry skin can lead to irritation and breakouts.[29] Aim to drink an 8  fl oz (240 mL) glass of water at least 8 times a day, and drink whenever you feel thirsty.[30]
    • A good rule of thumb to use is looking at the color of your urine. If it's mostly clear, you've had enough water; if it's yellowish, aim to drink more water throughout the day.[31]
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    Incorporate healthy fats into your meals. While fatty foods are often considered bad for acne, there are good fats that help fight acne. Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation and prevent new breakouts.[32]
    • Good sources of healthy fats include fatty fish (such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna), nuts and seeds, and plant-based oils (such as olive or flax-seed oil).
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    Include lean proteins in your diet. Researchers have found that people who eat diets rich in lean proteins are less likely to suffer from acne. Look for healthy sources of protein, such as poultry breast, fish, egg whites, and peas and beans.[33]
    • While milk and other dairy products contain plenty of protein, they may cause breakouts in some people. Try cutting back on milk for a few weeks and see if your acne improves.[34]
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    Have plenty of fruits and vegetables every day. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is great for your overall health, and may also help minimize acne breakouts.[35] Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day to get a variety of skin-boosting vitamins and minerals.
    • Low levels of vitamins A and E, as well as zinc, can cause acne breakouts.[36] Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables that are rich in these nutrients, such as dark leafy greens, carrots, squash, berries, mangos, avocados, mushrooms, and garlic.
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    Cut greasy and sugary junk food out of your diet. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and greasy foods can all make acne worse. Stick to eating a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of lean protein, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables. Stay away from junk foods, such as:[37]
    • Sugary baked goods
    • Candy
    • Sweet sodas and sugary coffee drinks
    • Greasy fast food and fried foods
    • Fatty, salty snacks, such as potato chips

Treating Acne Naturally with Lifestyle ChangesDownload Article

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    Do stress-reducing activities to prevent acne flareups. It’s not clear whether stress can cause acne, but it can make your acne worse if you already have it![38] If you’re stressing out, do activities that help you relax and unwind. This may help calm your skin and make your breakouts less severe. Try activities such as:[39]
    • Yoga
    • Meditation
    • Going for walks outside
    • Listening to peaceful music
    • Working on hobbies or creative projects
    • Spending time with family, friends, or pets
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    Try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Although the connection between sleep and acne is not entirely clear, most doctors agree that lack of sleep can stress you out and make it harder for your body to fight infections. This will make your acne worse and is bad for your skin overall. Commit to getting about 8 hours of sleep a night to give your skin a healthy boost.[40]
    • If you’re a teen, try to get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Commit to going to bed and waking up at the same time each night so that you get into a healthy sleep routine.
    • If you have trouble sleeping, try establishing a relaxing bedtime ritual, like meditating, reading, or taking a warm shower before bed. Turn off any bright screens at least an hour before bedtime, since the light can make it harder for your brain to get into sleep mode.
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    Wash up after exercising. Some people notice that they have more breakouts after working out. Don’t let this stop you from getting the health benefits of exercise, though! Instead, protect yourself by showering and washing your face with a gentle cleanser after every workout. This will help prevent sweat, oils, and dirt from clogging your pores and irritating your skin.[41]
    • While you’re exercising, gently pat away sweat with a clean, dry towel. Don’t rub away sweat, since this could irritate your skin.
    • Even if you can’t shower right away, change into clean, dry workout clothes immediately after your workout. This will help prevent breakouts on your body. Put on clean clothes before your workout, too, since dirty clothes can trap bacteria and other skin irritants.
    • If you’re using a gym, wipe down any shared equipment before you use it with a disinfectant wipe. This will help get rid of oils and bacteria left behind by other people that could aggravate your skin and cause breakouts.

When to Seek Medical CareDownload Article

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    Talk to your doctor if your acne doesn’t go away with home treatments. It’s normal for it to take several weeks for your skin to clear. If you use home acne treatments consistently, you should see results. However, these treatments don’t work for everyone because there are different causes of acne. If you’re not getting the results you want, visit your doctor to learn about prescription treatments that may work for you.[42]
    • Although you may see some improvements after a few days to a week of treatment, severe acne may take 4-8 weeks to clear.[43]
    • Write down all of the treatments you try so that you can tell your doctor what hasn’t worked for you. You might even bring in the bottles or packaging.
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    Visit a dermatologist if your acne is widespread across your face. If you have a lot of acne, over-the-counter treatments may not work, but that’s okay. Your dermatologist will help you choose better treatments to combat your acne. Prescription treatments are more effective and targeted to address what’s causing your acne.[44]
    • Acne may be caused by hormones, inflammation, or bacteria that’s deep under your skin. While home treatments can’t address these causes, your dermatologist can prescribe a treatment that can.
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    Ask your doctor if prescription acne treatments are right for you. If your acne goes away with home treatments, then you likely won’t need prescription medication. However, you may decide to take medication if you have persistent or widespread acne. Your doctor may offer you 1 or more of the following treatments:[45]
    • Prescription topical creams. These typically contain a retinoid, benzoyl peroxide, antibiotic, or possibly salicylic acid.
    • Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to kill bacteria that cause acne and to reduce inflammation.
    • Hormonal birth control pills. If you’re a female, your doctor may recommend birth control pills to help control outbreaks caused by hormones.
    • Isotretinoin. This is an oral treatment you may be able to take if nothing else works and your acne is seriously interfering with your life.
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    Treat your acne with a skin procedure if your doctor recommends it. In addition to medication, your dermatologist can offer in-office skin treatments to improve the look of your skin. You may experience some discomfort during skin treatments, but they shouldn’t be painful. Talk to your dermatologist about the following options:[46]
    • Laser or light therapy targets the p. acnes bacteria, which might help clear your breakout.
    • Chemical peels help remove the outer layers of your skin to reveal fresh, possibly clearer skin.
    • Acne removal is a procedure where your doctor drains or injects medicine into a large acne cyst that doesn’t respond to medicine.
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    Get immediate care for signs of an allergic reaction to acne products. It’s normal to experience minor redness and irritation after you use acne treatments. However, scary side effects may happen to some people. While you likely don’t need to worry because reactions are rare, seek treatment immediately if you have the following symptoms:[47]
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Swelling of your face, eyes, lips, or tongue
    • Tightness in your throat
    • Feeling faint

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