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Alternative Treatments for Acne

By HERWriter
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Acne related image Photo: Getty Images

Sometimes people turn to alternative treatments for acne treatment in order to avoid some of the side effects of traditional therapies. These side effects may include excess redness or drying or reactions to the chemicals in those medications.

In addition, there is concern that people may develop resistant bacterial infections due to such frequent exposure to the antibiotics in many prescription acne treatments.

At the same time, alternative treatments may carry their own risk and studies do not point to their conclusive effectiveness. WebMD reported from the American Academy of Dermatology that a certain over the counter oral “natural” acne supplement contained over 200 times the safe level of selenium, which could cause serious toxic effects.

Check with your health provider before embarking on any alternative acne treatments especially if you are already on a traditional regime. While alternative treatments may not work for everyone, below are a few of the ones that have been shown to offer some benefits:

· Tea tree oil is a popular topical acne treatment made from the oil of a tree native in Australia. WebMD cites a 1990 study that compared 5 percent tea tree oil against 5 percent benzoyl peroxide and researchers found after three months the response against acne to be similar with less side effects of dryness, irritation, itching, and burning.

Tea tree oil is well tolerated by adults though it can cause an allergic dermatitis reaction in some. It is never to be taken internally.

· Manuka honey is from New Zealand and has shown in studies to have anti-bacterial and wound healing properties. Because of this research, manuka honey has gained in popularity for the treatment of wounds in hospital and clinics. This benefit has been transferred to a belief that it can also help acne despite there not being definitive studies to prove this claim.

· Topical 4 percent niacinamide gel was found in a study reported by the University of Maryland to improve acne in 41 patients studied. The study did not have a placebo group which is a limiting factor in knowing how effective niacinamide is.

Add a Comment2 Comments


Hi Anne,

I did search Pubmed looking for studies about its use for acne but did not find any specifically related to acne, just wound healing and anti-bacterial properties. It does make sense that it could combat P.acnes which is the main bacteria thought to contribute to acne though.  

Glad you found it helped you. 


December 29, 2011 - 3:10pm

I have used manuka honey face cream before and it worked quite well for my acne. It helps to clear up blemishes and also prevents it from spreading due to it's anti-bacterial properties according (source: http://www.manukahoneybenefit.com/health-benefits/acne)

I'm not sure if there have been any clinical studies on manuka honey and acne but the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects have been known for some time.

December 29, 2011 - 10:53am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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