The blackheads and sometimes painful pimples that we know as acne occur most commonly during adolescence, but they may persist into later life as well. There is much we still don't understand about what causes acne. We do know that during adolescence and other times of hormonal imbalance, such as around menopause, glands in the skin increase their levels of oil secretions. A combination of naturally occurring yeast and bacteria then breaks down these secretions, causing the skin to become inflamed and the pimples to eventually rupture. In severe cases, acne can lead to permanent scars.
Conventional treatment, which usually is quite successful, consists primarily of oral or topical antibiotics, cleansing agents, and chemically modified versions of
Note : Do not rely on any of the natural treatments discussed in this article to treat severe acne in which scarring is a possibility.
Principal Proposed Treatments for Acne
Studies suggest that people with acne have lower-than-normal levels of zinc in their bodies. 9,17,18 This fact alone does not indicate that taking zinc supplements will help acne.
In one of these studies, 54 people were given either placebo or 135 mg of zinc as zinc sulfate daily. Zinc produced slight but measurable benefits.
Relatively weak evidence suggests that a lower and safer dose, 30 mg daily, may also be helpful.
A large double-blind trial (332 participants) compared 30 mg daily of zinc against a tetracycline-family medication often used for acne (minocycline at 100 mg daily).
Keep in mind that the dosages of zinc used in most of these studies are much higher than daily requirements, and have the potential for causing toxicity. Indeed, case reports indicate that people have made themselves extremely ill by taking zinc in hopes of treating their acne symptoms.
For more information, see the full
Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties and has been suggested as an alternative to benzoyl peroxide for direct application to the skin.
The best evidence for benefits with tea tree oil comes from a randomized, double-blind clinical trial of 60 people with mild to moderate acne.
For more information, including dosage and safety issues, see the full
In a double-blind trial, 76 individuals with moderately severe acne were treated with either 4%
Other Proposed Treatments for Acne
Another controlled trial compared an extract of the Ayurvedic herb
Other commonly mentioned natural treatments for acne include
The effect of diet on acne is unclear. One interesting, though far from definitive, study compared a
Various herbs and supplements may interact adversely with drugs used to treat acne. For more information on this potential risk, see the individual drug article in the Drug Interactions section of this database.
14. Dreno B, Moyse D, Alirezai M, et al. Multicenter randomized comparative double-blind controlled clinical trial of the safety and efficacy of zinc gluconate versus minocycline hydrochloride in the treatment of inflammatory acne vulgaris. Dermatology. 2001;203:135-140.
21. Enshaieh S, Jooya A, Siadat AH, et al. The efficacy of 5% topical tea tree oil gel in mild to moderate acne vulgaris: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol . 2007;73:22-5.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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