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What’s New In Acne Home Remedies?

By Megan Griffith

Reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr. Jaggi Rao,
MD, FRCPC Double board-certified dermatologist

Probably you can find out everything you need to know about how to use apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, rose water, various herbal concoctions, milk and honey, green tea, mud packs, and other low-tech acne home remedies in any number of books and on any number of sites on the Internet. But for a slightly higher initial investment, you can acquire many of the tools used by dermatologists for use in your own home for a fraction of what you would have to pay at the doctor’s office.

home ultrasound and acne
Home ultrasound machines can help treat acne by drawing bacteria and oil out of pores.

None of them are cures, but some beat medication in certain situations and get results without stress or any problems. Here are three of the best and most effective to reduce swelling and get rid of acne.


  • Ultrasound isn’t just for taking a look at babies before they are born. A home ultrasound machine can help you get healing treatments deep into the skin, and draw bacteria and oil out of pores.
  • Blue light and red-and-blue light kill acne bacteria. The addition of red light is anti-inflammatory. Light therapy is primarily a maintenance therapy, but it can also greatly accelerate recovery from outbreaks.
  • Dermatologists use hot lasers to burn acne off the skin. Home laser therapy kits use cool lasers to stimulate growth of the skin that opens pores from the inside out.

Ultrasound for Acne Treatment

Ultrasound1 is best known as a tool for medical diagnostic. Ultrasound machines generating 5 million pulses a second can be used as a kind of human body radar system to find the contours and textures of internal organs or an unborn baby.

Ultrasound operating at a slightly lower frequency, however, just 1 to 2 million pulses a second, has an astonishing effect on the skin2. For just a few thousandths of a second, the pulses from an ultrasound machine can initiate resonant frequencies that jostle skin cells in ways that open tiny, molecule-sized pathways through the uppermost layers of the skin. These tunnels are wide enough to admit a molecule of a skin treatment agent, but not wide enough to admit viruses, bacteria, or dirt. Using an ultrasound massager on the face while applying a skin treatment agent vastly accelerates absorption.

Of course, if you use ultrasound treatment to help your skin absorb anti-acne treatments3, you want to make sure that you are using the right treatments. Some natural products really aren’t a good idea for treating acne. You don’t want to use ultrasound, for instance, to help your skin absorb essential oils to which you may be allergic. You don’t want to use ultrasound if you still have any kind of irritant soap or detergent on your skin.

Fortunately, home ultrasound treatment kits include detailed instructions for their use. You want to look for a “galvanic spot” or “home iontophoresis unit,” iontophoresis referring to the passage of small molecules through the skin during ultrasound massage. Most units retail for less than US $150. Probably the best uses for the machine are helping the skin absorb calming facial waters or alpha-lipoic acid or DMAE creams for treating acne scars. Some people find that the machine also works without any skin care products at all, bringing pus and oil from inside pimples painlessly to the surface of the skin where they can be washed away.

Home Blue Light Acne Therapy

The bacteria that cause acne are particularly sensitive to certain wavelengths of visible blue light. Blue light resonates with a chemical called a porphyrin. Intense blue light4 causes the porphyrin in the cell membrane of the acne bacteria to release massive amounts of free radicals of oxygen, which rupture the lining of the cell. Since blue light does not penetrate deep into the skin, lower levels of the skin and the tissues underneath are unharmed by the treatment.

Blue light therapy only stops the growth of the bacteria that cause inflammation and irritation when they grow to excessive numbers inside skin pores. It does not melt away existing blackheads or whiteheads. When the skin is relieved of the burden of fighting infection, however, it is able to grow and empty pores, literally causing acne to fall off the face.

One of the most useful home blue light acne therapy units is the Trophy Skin BlueMD blue light treatment lamp. Designed by British dermatologists, the lamp can be used for 10,000 hours of treatment. Simply shining the lamp on acne-affected skin for 20 minutes three times a week, however, is usually enough to eliminate 50 to 60% of blemishes in about 3 months.

The best way to use home blue light acne therapy, however, is to maintain clear skin, stopping blemishes before they start. Home units generally cost about $200. Blue light is helpful for most people who have acne, although people who have oily, sensitive skin or rosacea should not use it, because of heating of the skin. More is not necessarily better when it comes to blue light treatment. Never use the machine longer or more often than the manufacturer recommends.

Home Red Light Acne Therapy

For about US $50, users of blue light therapy lamps can buy an additional bulb for skin treatment with red and blue light simultaneously. Some researchers have found that the combination of light from both the red and blue spectra of visible light eliminated up to 80% of acne blemishes in 12 weeks. This result is a little better than most acne sufferers get from benzoyl peroxide. The treatment kit is a good alternative to benzoyl peroxide for people who get peeling or flaking when they use benzoyl peroxide foams or gels. The addition of red light is thought by some researchers to be anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial.

The same people who should not use blue light also should not use red light. Rosacea outbreaks can be triggered by intense light treatment5, especially if the lamp is held so close to the skin that it causes heat.

When light treatment does not work, the main problem usually is tightness of the skin that traps oil and bacteria inside pores. However, if light treatment does not work, antibiotics and benzoyl peroxide usually would not work, either.

Home Laser Treatment Kits for Acne

Dermatologists use “hot lasers” to coagulate the blood underneath the skin so acne scars simply fall off the face6. Home laser ablation kits provide “cool lasers” that kill bacteria inside pores to accelerate the healing process.

Many people find that their pimples heal 3 to 4 times faster when they use home laser treatment7 to kill bacteria inside pimples. The low-intensity laser light kills bacteria without killing skin cells. It can even stimulate the skin’s production of vitamin D.

Home laser treatment8, however, is used to treat existing pimples, not to prevent blackheads and whiteheads. Keeping skin clear depends on a comprehensive program of diet, cleansing, exfoliation, and moisturizing as needed to keep acne away for good.


  1. Polańska A, Dańczak-Pazdrowska A, Jałowska M, Żaba R, Adamski Z. Current applications of high-frequency ultrasonography in dermatology. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2017 Dec;34(6):535-542.
  2. Wortsman X1, Claveria P, Valenzuela F, Molina MT, Wortsman J. Sonography of acne vulgaris. J Ultrasound Med. 2014 Jan;33(1):93-102. doi: 10.7863/ultra.33.1.93.
  3. Zhang N, Wu Y, Xing R, Xu B, Guoliang D, Wang P. Effect of Ultrasound-Enhanced Transdermal Drug Delivery Efficiency of Nanoparticles and Brucine. Biomed Res Int. 2017;2017:3273816.
  4. Gold MH, Andriessen A, Biron J, Andriessen H. Clinical Efficacy of Self-applied Blue Light Therapy for Mild-to-Moderate Facial Acne. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2009 Mar;2(3):44-50.
  5. Barbaric J, Abbott R, Posadzki P, Car M, Gunn LH, Layton AM, Majeed A, Car J. Light therapies for acne. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Sep 27;9(9):CD007917.
  6. Gianfaldoni S, Tchernev G, Wollina U, Fioranelli M, Roccia MG, Gianfaldoni R, Lotti T. An Overview of Laser in Dermatology: The Past, the Present and … the Future (?). Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2017 Jul 23;5(4):526-530.
  7. Lasers and lights: How well do they treat acne? American Academy of Dermatology. 2019.
  8. Juhász ML, Levin MK, Marmur ES. A review of available laser and intense light source home devices: A dermatologist’s perspective. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2017 Dec;16(4):438-443.


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