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Seven Acne Remedies That Work That You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

By Megan Griffith

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

If you still have not found the acne remedy that works well for you, don’t despair. There are acne remedies that work that you have probably never heard of.

acne face mask
A facial mask that actually gets rid of the shine and helps stop pimples is just one of the newer remedies to help fight acne.

Summary:

  • New acne treatments are developed all the time. This article lists seven new ways of dealing with acne.
  • A product that contains just the right amount of salicylic acid gets rid of both blackheads and pimples on oily skin.
  • A facial mask has been developed to get rid of the “shine” caused by oily skin, as well as stop pimples.
  • Glycemic load, rather than glycemic index, is the best diet approach for controlling acne.
  • A relatively new, simpler form of acupuncture known as ah-shi can help control breakouts of pimples.
  • Treating eczema with diet sometimes also reduces inflammatory acne.
  • Treating high triglycerides may stop breakouts of “whiteheads.”

Products that Get Rid of Both Blackheads and Pimples

Most acne skin care1 products get rid of either blackheads or pimples. Salicylic acid at just the right concentration and just the right pH, however, can both loosen the clumps of dead skin that hold blackheads in pores and also relieve inflammation in and around pimples. One product that has the right amount of salicylic acid at the right pH is Paula’s Choice CLEAR Targeted Acne Relief Exfoliating Toner with 2% Salicylic Acid. At US $28.03 for 4 fluid ounces/120 ml, it’s no more expensive than most affordable acne treatments, and it gets rid of blackheads, lightens pimples, and prevents future blemishes all at the same time.

Facial Masks that Really Get Rid of “Shine”

If you have oily skin, you tend to get blackheads. And even when you manage to get rid of blackheads, your skin tends to shine, especially across the lower forehead and on your cheeks and nose. If you wear makeup, that shine turns into streaks that can reveal the skin you worked so hard to cover up.

One of the best ways to get rid of oil-induced shiny skin, for up to a week, is to use a clay facial mask treatment2 that is free of any irritants that might give you pimples in exchange for oily skin. There are very few products that really work, but many people with oily skin acne get good results from Clinique Acne Solutions Oil-Control Cleansing Mask. It’s a little pricey, at US $25 per 3.4 ounces, but it’s one of the few treatments for shiny skin that won’t also induce pimples.

Products that Stop Pimples on Oily Skin

If you have oily skin, you will probably agree that it is bad to get blackheads but it’s just plain awful to get pimples, too. One product that reduces irritation in oily skin so that pimples don’t get started is NuSkin Clear Action Acne Medication Night Treatment. At US $39 for 1 fluid ounce (30 ml), it’s a little pricey, and it won’t really help break up and exfoliate dead skin around blackheads as promised in product advertising. It’s a great product for reducing inflammation, however, and it can prevent both redness and breakouts of pimples.

A Glycemic Index Diet for Acne that Really Works

Hundreds of diets have been based on the glycemic index, a measurement of how fast the human body can digest glucose from a given food. The problem with the glycemic index has always been that it measures the speed of digestion of single foods, and people don’t actually eat single foods. The authors of glycemic index diets3, however, act as if they did, and tell people who have acne that filling up on low glycemic index foods like raw carrots and raw cabbage will help clear up their faces. Usually, low glycemic diets don’t work, or people don’t manage to stay on the diet.

However, there is a different way to use the glycemic index to guide an anti-acne diet4. The modern concept is glycemic load rather than glycemic index. Glycemic load takes into account not just how fast food may be transformed into sugar by the digestive process (glycemic index numbers are actually up to 50% off, depending on how foods are mixed), it also takes into account how much of the food is eaten.

In this approach, if you want to reduce the number of inflammatory acne breakouts5 you have, you take care to eat small amounts of foods that have a high glycemic index (such as rice, bread, and potatoes) and larger amounts of lower glycemic index foods (such as cabbage and carrots). It’s not a fool-proof method, but if you just have to have some sweets in your diet, you at least keep your glycemic load down by balancing them with healthier choices.

Ah-Shi Acupuncture for Acne

Traditional acupuncture theory teaches that energy flows in the body that are either blocked or excessive can cause visible symptoms. Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine6 seek to “tonify” or “sedate” energy flows into the face either to increase the activity the skin and open pores, or to decrease the activity of the skin and heal pimples. The problem is that the skin tends to need both tonifying and sedation at the same time.

Korean acupuncturists7 have developed another way of treating acne with acupuncture that is essentially a “where it hurts” method of placing needles. Instead of placing needles in traditional acupuncture points, they place needles “where it hurts” anywhere on the body. The central nervous system seems to identify the pain of the needle as a constant, and nerves become less sensitive to pain chemicals. When the skin senses less pain, it releases less corticotrophin stimulating hormone and releases fewer inflammatory compounds.

The “where it hurts” method does not relieve blackheads, but recent clinical trials show that it does stop pimples8. In theory, acupressure massage of pain points, involving no needles, would also reduce inflammation9. It’s safe to try acupressure (no needles!) at home. Just don’t apply pressure over broken skin, broken bones, or tumors, and don’t give acupressure to children under 3.

Ditch the Itch to Get Rid of Acne

Dermatologists in India have observed that children who have the itchy skin condition known as eczema during infancy tend to get acne, and that treating eczema with diet10 tends to prevent acne during the teenage years. Treating acne as if it were eczema11, when it occurs in teens who had eczema earlier in life, may also reduce the severity of the condition.

The most common offending food for infants and toddlers who have eczema is cow’s milk. It may be possible to give the child goat’s or sheep’s milk instead. Eczema also tends to be aggravated12 by wheat, processed foods containing flavorings and preservatives, fermented meats (such as salami), and aspirin. Cutting back or eliminating these foods may reduce the formation of blemishes.

Taming Triglycerides to Get Rid of Acne

One of the peculiarities of high triglyceride levels is the formation of xanthomas, patches of fat under the skin13 that are invaded by a kind of white blood cells known as macrophages. The macrophages attempt to feed on excess triglycerides and literally get stuck in the skin, forming bumps that look like very large whiteheads.

Medical researchers speculate that some whiteheads are actually xanthomas. If you have a tendency to break out in whiteheads without any other form of acne, it may be useful to see your doctor about having a blood test to determine whether you have high triglyceride levels. If you do, the condition is usually treated with fish oil or the fish oil derivative known as Lovaza.

References

  1. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Skin care for acne-prone skin. 2013 Jan 16 [Updated 2016 Jul 28]. org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany
  2. Meier L, Stange R, Michalsen A, Uehleke B Clay jojoba oil facial mask for lesioned skin and mild acne–results of a prospective, observational pilot study. Forsch Komplementmed. 2012;19(2):75-9.
  3. Reynolds RC, Lee S, Choi JY, Atkinson FS, Stockmann KS, Petocz P, Brand-Miller JC. Effect of the glycemic index of carbohydrates on Acne vulgaris. Nutrients. 2(10):1060-72.
  4. Burris J, Shikany JM, Rietkerk W, Woolf K. A Low Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Diet Decreases Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 among Adults with Moderate and Severe Acne: A Short-Duration, 2-Week Randomized Controlled Trial. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018 Oct;118(10):1874-1885.
  5. Katta R, Desai SP. Diet and dermatology: the role of dietary intervention in skin disease. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Jul;7(7):46-51.
  6. Son BK, Yun Y, Choi IH. Efficacy of ah shi point acupuncture on acne vulgaris. Acupunct Med. 2010 Sep;28(3):126-9.
  7. Mansu SSY, Liang H, Parker S, Coyle ME, Wang K, Zhang AL, Guo X, Lu C, Xue CCL. Acupuncture for Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Mar 12;2018:4806734.
  8. Mansu SSY, Liang H, Parker S, Coyle ME, Wang K, Zhang AL, Guo X, Lu C, Xue CCL. Acupuncture for Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2018 Mar 12;2018:4806734.
  9. Cao HJ, Yang GY, Wang YY, Liu JP. Acupoint Stimulation for Acne: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Med Acupunct. 2013 Jun;25(3):173-194.
  10. Khanna R, Shifrin N, Nektalova T, Goldenberg G. Diet and dermatology: Google search results for acne, psoriasis, and eczema. . Cutis. 2018 Jul;102(1):44;46;48.
  11. Lee JH, Son SW, Cho SH. A Comprehensive Review of the Treatment of Atopic Eczema. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2016 May;8(3):181-90.
  12. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Eczema: Can eliminating particular foods help? InformedHealth.org. Cologne, Germany. Updated 2017 Feb 23
  13. Zaremba J, Zaczkiewicz A, Placek W. Eruptive xanthomas. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013 Dec;30(6):399-402.
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