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Best Treatments for Latino Acne Problems

If you were raised in a Hispanic household in the United States, your mother may have sent you to the curandera for acne treatment rather than to the dermatologist. And if your dermatologist is not aware of the special issues of Latino skin care, it sometimes may seem to be a better idea to seek “Latino acne treatment” at your traditional herbalist. With the right information beforehand, however, Latinos can enjoy successful medical treatment of acne problems.

latino woman prone to cystic acne
Latinos are especially susceptible to cystic acne.

Many of the issues of Latin acne management apply not to just to people of Hispanic descent or to people who have brown skin but also to anyone who has diabetes in the family. You don’t have to have a Spanish last name or to speak Spanish or even be Spanish to have Latino skin care problems. Certain acne problems, however, are much more common among Hispanics.


  • Latinos are especially susceptible to cystic acne.
  • For mild to moderate acne, Latinos have the same treatment options as other ethnic groups.
  • Certain traditional practices, such as the afternoon break and the herbal therapies of curanderísma, make sense for treating acne on the Latino skin.

Hispanics and Cystic Acne

More than any other ethnic group, Hispanics are susceptible to an especially nasty form of acne known as cystic acne. In cystic acne, the skin traps infection inside pores that are then covered by healthy, although pinkish colored, scar tissue. The walls of the pore erode so the mass of acne bacteria is exposed to the immune system’s constant attack. The immune system tries to make the bacteria disappear by generating chemicals called interleukins and tumor necrosis factor, and the bacteria fight back by releasing chemicals that cause these chemicals to attack healthy skin.

The process goes on until something releases the infection, either surgery or Accutane treatment. But why are Hispanics susceptible to this awful form of acne?

The answer seems to be that Hispanics are as susceptible to “diabetes of the skin” as they are susceptible to type 2 diabetes. The genetic predisposition to have cystic acne is not due to an accumulation of sugar in the skin somehow feeding acne bacteria. Acne bacteria do not eat sugar. They consume sebum (and when they are present on the skin in small numbers, that is actually a good thing).

The reason so many Hispanics develop cystic acne is an overproduction of insulin-like growth factors that stimulate the growth of the skin. Healthy, pink skin grows over a pimple, and the bacteria inside and the immune system go mano a mano to try to dominate each other. The result is a nasty acne cyst.

Among the various groups of Hispanics, Puerto Ricans are the most susceptible to cystic acne. The more “indio” one’s heritage, the less likely cystic acne is to be a problem. The more “mixto” one’s ethnic origins, the more likely cystic acne is to occur.

Cystic Acne and Body Size

Cystic acne is also a special problem in Hispanic women who have a hormonal imbalance called polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. In this condition, the ovaries make too much testosterone because they are flooded with sugar.

Most cells in the body have an “off switch” that protects them from absorbing so much sugar that their energy-making mitochondria go into high production. The ovaries have to protect eggs throughout a woman’s reproductive life, so they are configured to receive as much glucose as possible. In PCOS, the excess sugar leads to excess production of both estrogen and testosterone, the testosterone causing acne, and overproduction of insulin-like growth factor causing cysts.

Hispanic women who have issues with both PCOS and weight are especially likely to develop cystic acne. Fortunately, dieting helps resolve PCOS, overweight, diabetes, and acne all at the same time. Bringing PCOS and diabetes under control will help keep new cysts from forming. Then it is possible to pursue treatment.

Treating Cystic Acne in Hispanics

As is the case with other ethnic groups, Hispanics have limited options for treating cystic acne. The cysts can be lanced. They can be treated surgically. Or they can be treated with oral Accutane. This drug shrinks the lining of cysts and encourages the growth of skin over the cyst so it eventually opens on its own.

Then it is only necessary to treat mild to moderate acne daily, for the rest of one’s life, to keep cysts from reappearing. Hispanics tend to have either cystic acne or no acne at all, but the principles for treating mild to moderate acne on Latino skin are the same as for everyone else. Latino skin can be dry or oily, sensitive to chemicals or resistant to chemicals, tight or wrinkly, and spotted or spotless. Different people need different acne treatments, but for mild to moderate acne, Latinos make the same choices as everyone else.

A Siesta Is Not a Bad Thing for Your Skin

Although the afternoon break known as a siesta is not very common for Hispanics in the United States, it is still practiced in much of the Caribbean and Latin America. From the standpoint of acne skin care, a siesta is not a bad thing. Staying out of the sun during the heat of the day prevents drying of the skin across the nose and around the eyes. This reduces the formation of whiteheads, blackheads, and pimples. And you can always use your afternoon break to see your herbalist.

Curanderísma (Traditional Cures) for Latino Acne

What can the traditional curandera or curandero (Latino folk healers who offer a combination of sympathetic magic and herbal treatment) offer that the doctor cannot?

Well, traditional healers are in the miracle business. Chances are that your doctor will probably never promise miracles. Your traditional healer might, but if they deliver, that’s OK, too. Your abuela (grandmother) might be happy if you go.

Aside from spiritual ritual, if you turn to curanderísma for acne treatment, you are likely to get a “stinky cure.” These treatments are natural compounds that contain sulfur. Solid “stinky cures” may be a little strong for Hispanic skin—even if the “doctor” tells you burning is a good thing, the sensation of burning on your skin really is not a good thing. Burned skin scars.

Liquid “stinky cures,” however, can be beneficial for your skin if they are bound to the skin with the application of aloe vera gel or moisturizer. The sulfur, magnesium, and selenium in artesian water relaxes the skin and fights infection, and can really help mild to moderate acne on Latino skin.

Most of us, however, don’t have time to show the proper respect to the traditional healer. If you are working long hours on the job, and your money is tight, consider an acne healing system, like Exposed Skin Care. You get all the treatments you need for mild to moderate acne in a single kit, and it comes with a money-back guarantee.

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