Top 17 Home Remedies for Acne

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Top 17 Home Remedies for AcnePhoto – André Karwath (Wikipedia) lic. via. CC 2.5

Acne is a skin condition characterized by crusting of skin bumps, skin scarring, and redness around skin eruptions. Acne varies in form and can be non-inflammatory (whiteheads and blackheads) or inflammatory (papules, pustules (pimples), nodules, and cysts). [1]

Acne occurs when hair follicles are plugged with oil and dead skin cells. Follicles are small tubes or cup-shaped pit in the skin where a hair is enclosed and can grow out. Each follicle contains a hair and a gland that produces oil (or sebum) that lubricates the skin and hair and pores open to follicles. [2] When oil glands enlarge and an excessive amount of oil is produced by these oil glands as a result of increased androgen production, the skin pores become blocked and dirt, bacteria, and dead cells build up. [3]

Although acne also affects young adults irrespective of races, it becomes common during adolescence, a period where teens tend to be socially insecure. Because men have higher testosterone levels than women, acne afflicts men longer than women. [4] The most crystal-clear effects of acne are physical in nature (e.g., scarring), but these effects, which can be very distressing, in turn, lead to psychological problems for some individuals. Of note is a reduced self-esteem, especially among adolescents and young adults. The occurrence of acne among teenagers can be considered emotionally upsetting or disturbing; after all, teens are very particular and conscious about their appearance and self-image.

Hormonal changes related to, for instance, puberty, menstrual periods, pregnancy, and stress could trigger the onset of acne development. Naturally, none can be done as regards the increase in androgen levels during puberty or during menstrual periods and pregnancy. And nothing should be done in the first place about those hormonal changes as they are the body’s normal physiological response to such events.

Home Remedies For Acne

Before treatment can be applied, certain factors that could worsen one’s acne should be controlled or eliminated first. These factors can be generally summed up into hormones, drugs, and diet. Over-the-counter formulations for acne, such as benzoyl peroxide, alpha-hydroxy acid, and salicylic acid, are widely available in the market, but there are a variety of home remedies that one can employ to get rid of acne. You may be surprised that what you need to treat your acne are just stored in your kitchen! Here is our list of home remedies for acne:

1. De-stress – Stress stimulates the body to produce certain hormones, including androgens that are widely thought to induce acne formation. In other words, acne control can sometimes just boil down to stress management. Identify the sources of stress in your life and your coping strategies, stay out of “stressful” environments, adapt to stressful situations, and have some sense of control. Reduce and healthily cope up with stress, and eventually, you will end up one morning looking in the mirror and just appreciating your acne-free face. [5]

2. Eliminate harmful medications/drugs – Some medications have acne as one of their side effects and can cause “true” acne or acne-like eruptions. These drugs are usually those that affect the levels of hormones, particularly increasing androgen levels. Corticosteroids, lithium, anticonvulsants, barbiturates, androgenic steroids, dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and medications that contain bromides or iodides are among the drugs that can stimulate the development of acne. [6]

When the abovementioned medications appear to be the culprit of one’s acne, ceasing to use them eventually resolves the acne problem. However, in most cases, these medications are prescribed for certain medical conditions and are critical for survival. For example, lithium remains to be the primary pharmacologic treatment for bipolar disorders, [7] while anticonvulsants are used to treat epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Hence, consult your physician if a certain medication that triggers or aggravates your acne can be replaced, substituted, or stopped. Admittedly, acne can potentially hurt one’s self-image, but it will not severely affect one’s physical health.

3. Reduce use of cosmetics – Some cosmetics (face makeup, sunblock, or lip products) can trigger the development of a rare type of acne known as “acne cosmetica.” When a rash of small bumps appear on your cheek, forehead, or chin after starting to apply a cosmetic product, stop using the said product. [8]

4. Improve diet – A number of studies associate acne with diet. Recent compelling evidence has indicated that a diet high in glycemic load (high-glycemic-index foods) may exacerbate acne. [9] These food items refer to those that can cause a swift rise in sugar levels in the blood by inducing the release of unusually high amounts of insulin to absorb all the free sugar. Some of these foods include, among others, soft drinks, white rice, beer, white bread, cereals, and potatoes. Furthermore, a diet consisting of dairy products, refined sugar products, and high-glycemic-index foods – otherwise labeled as Western diet – has been linked to an increased incidence of acne in the United States by a study from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine. [10]

5. Lemon – Lemon juice can be added to rose water, or groundnut oil, or cinnamon powder and then applied on the affected site. Fresh lemon juice alone can be dabbed on a pimple overnight.

6. Honey – Honey can be mixed with cinnamon powder to create a paste that should be applied on acne and be left overnight. Application should be performed for some weeks until the acne is fully treated. Alternatively, honey can be combined with grated apple pulp to prepare a mask. Honey is effective against acne because of its antimicrobial property. If one wants things simple, he or she can just dab a small amount of honey on the affected skin area and then place a Band-aid on it.

7. Garlic – A 2009 South Korean study had provided evidence that suggests the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects of garlic. [11] Garlic deters the growth of bacteria and improves inflammation, and such feat works wonders in acne treatment. Rub some slices of raw garlic on affected area several times daily.

8. Tree tea oil – The well-studied antibacterial property of tea tree oil can be utilized to treat acne associated with bacteria build-up. This oil possesses plant terpenes and their corresponding alcohols. Tea tree oil (5% ) in a water-based gel has been proven to reduce the number of acne lesions after 3 months. What’s more interesting is that the incidence of adverse effects such as dryness, irritation, itching, and burning upon tea tree oil use is rather low. [12]

9. Vinegar – Vinegar has been determined by numerous scientific investigations to possess antimicrobial properties and can be used to fight infections. Vinegar preparations in fact can be used to treat and disinfect wounds. [13] Apply some amount of vinegar on affected area.

10. Oatmeal – An oatmeal mask on the face can be very soothing. It reduces the swelling and redness associated with pimples.

11. Potato – A slice of raw potato placed on top of a pimple can help in the healing process and decrease the degree of inflammation of a pimple.

12. Cucumber – Grated cucumber can be applied over the face with pimples or blackheads for 15-20 min. If one may prefer, around 2 or 3 teaspoons of lemon juice can be added to the grated cucumber for better results.

13. Bark of witch hazel, white oak tree, or English walnut tree – The bark extract from witch hazel is an effective and safe household remedy for acne. To produce a decoction, add 5 to 10 grams of the herb in 1 cup of water. Astringents can also be made from white oak tree bark or the English walnut tree bark. Use these preparations twice or thrice daily. Note that the preparations should be strained before use. [12]

14. Vitex (chaste tree, chasteberry) – The whole-fruit extract of vitex is effective in treating premenstrual acne. This flowering plant has the ability to act on follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone levels in the pituitary. [12]

15. Bittersweet nightshade – Bittersweet nightshade can be topically used to remedy acne. It is an effective treatment because of its inherent antibacterial property. [12]

16. Duckweed – In China, duckweed is applied on affected skin to treat acne.[12]

17. Aloe Vera – Aloe vera contains six antiseptic agents, namely, lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamonic acid, phenols, and sulfur. Moreover, it inhibits the cyclooxygenase pathway and reduces prostaglandin E2 production. [14] Cut a leaf from an Aloe vera, squeeze out the gel from the middle, and apply it on the affected area twice daily.


[1] Mayo Clinic staff. (2012). “Acne.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

[2] Follicle. Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary.

[3] Acne vulgaris. Wikipedia.

[4] Nordqvist C. (2009). “What is Acne? What Causes Acne? How to Get Rid of Acne.” Medical News Today.

[5] Smith M. & Segal R. (2013). “Stress management: How to reduce, prevent, and cope with stress.”

[6] Kam K. (2011). “Medications that can cause acne.” WebMD, LLC.

[7] Rattue P. (2012). “Lithium for bipolar disorder – Pros and cons unclear.” Medical News Today.

[8] Acne cosmetica. Wikipedia.

[9] Ferdowsian H. R. & Levin S. (2010). Does diet really affect acne? Skin Therapy Letter, 15(3): 1-2, 5.

[10] Veith W. B. & Silverberg N. B. (2011). The association of acne vulgaris with diet. Cutis, 88(2): 84-91.

[11] Sohn D. W., Han C. H., Jung Y. S., Kim S. I., Kim S. W., & Cho Y. H. (2009). Anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects of garlic and synergistic effect between garlic and ciprofloxacin in a chronic bacterial prostatitis rat model. International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, 34(3): 215-219. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2009.02.012.

[12] Shenefelt P. H. (2011). Herbal treatment for dermatologic disorders. In Benzie I. F. F. & Wachtel-Galor S. (Ed.), Herbal medicine: Biomolecular and clinical aspects (2nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

[13] Johnston C. S. & Gaas C. A. (2006).Vinegar: Medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. Medscape General Medicine, 8(2): 61.

[14] Surjushe A., Vasani R., & Saple D. G. (2008). Aloe vera: A short review. Indian Journal of Dermatology, 53(4): 163-166.

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  • By Barbara Childs, December 25, 2013 @ 1:31 am

    What can be done to fight blackheads?

  • By iftikhar hussain, December 26, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

    i love natural herbs.
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  • By walter okech, February 12, 2014 @ 2:05 pm

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  • By Jenny, September 5, 2017 @ 1:16 am


    Thanks for sharing these home remedies for acne tips. When making DIY skincare recipes I usually use lemon. honey and aloe vera. Of course, it is important to know how to make the remedy using each of the ingredients, not just use all of them in one mixture.

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