7 Old Wives' Tales About Treating Acne That Actually Work

Contrary to what seems to still be popular belief, acne isn't only a scourge of your teenage years — it can also follow you into your 20s and beyond. And even if you haven't battled breakouts for years, changing hormones, genetics, and more might mean that you all of a sudden end up with acne in adulthood. Over the years, you've likely heard about different acne treatments claiming to shrink blemishes, heal redness and irritation, or fade scars left from picking, and may have been a bit skeptical. There are some old wives' tales about treating acne that actually work, however, that you definitely need to know more about, whether you've struggled with acne for years or it's a brand-new adventure on which you're embarking.

What works for one person, however, doesn't work for all, which is one of the most frustrating things about trying to clear up your acne (or any other skincare issue that you'd like to address). And because everyone's skin is different, one person's all-time favorite remedy could actually make your breakouts worse or seriously irritate your skin. So it can still be useful to work with a dermatologist to try to find the best treatment for you.

"If you have moderate to severe acne — cystic acne, scarring acne, extensive acne — always seek the care of a board-certified dermatologist to assist with the treatment of your condition," Dr. Caroline A. Chang, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, tells Romper in an email exchange. "Stop any treatment if you develop a rash, irritation, sensitivity or any other side effect."

But in the meantime, or if you can't go to the dermatologist, some of the old wives' tales you learned about in high school just might do the trick.



Toothpaste is an oft-cited home remedy for clearing up blemishes quickly. "Toothpaste has triclosan, which is antimicrobial so it can kill bacteria," Dr. Debra Jaliman, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, tells Romper by email. "It can be used on a pimple."

Toothpaste can be irritating though, as well, so you have to be a little bit careful. Plus, Women's Health reported that, nowadays, some brands are reformulating their toothpastes so that they don't contain triclosan because it might be linked to hormone disruption, according to the FDA.



Yogurt also might help clear up your acne. The Pittsburgh CBS affiliate reported that the probiotics in Greek yogurt are the reason that it could potentially have an effect on your blemishes. Dr. Brian Horvath, a dermatologist, told the station that while eating the yogurt might have the best effect, it could also potentially work as a face mask because probiotics are thought to secrete things that could kill acne-causing bacteria. You never know until you try.


Aloe Vera

"You can also use aloe vera gel because it is anti-inflammatory so it gets rid of redness," Jaliman says. If your blemishes are exceptionally red and irritated, aloe vera gel might help soothe them.


Changing Your Diet

Though it certainly doesn't work for everyone (and never did for me), some people do find that changing their diet works for them. "This is partially true. We are now finding that foods such as sugar, dairy, and unhealthy fats increase pro-inflammatory mediators in the body which can contribute to inflammatory acne breakouts," Chang says. "Avoiding foods such as chocolate (contain sugar and dairy) and french fries (contain unhealthy fats) can in fact reduce acne flares."


Egg Whites

Bustle writer Kristin Collins Jackson tried out seven different acne home remedies, including egg whites, and found that they can, in fact, help combat acne — cystic acne, in particular. Mixing up an egg white face mask just might help sooth the blemishes on your face or body.


Relieving Stress

"Stress and acne breakouts are actually related," Chang says. "Stress increases inflammation in the body and increases cortisol which lowers the body's immune system. The combination causes unchecked inflammation that can lead to acne breakouts." If you've ever heard that you should relax to help your skin clear up (which is an admittedly frustrating thing to hear) or you've noticed that you tend to break out more during times of excessive stress, doing things to lower your stress level could potentially actually help soothe those blemishes.


Tea Tree Oil To Reduce Scars Or Breakouts

Tea tree oil could potentially help reduce scars or breakouts. "Tea tree oil does have antibacterial properties, however, it is one of the most common contact allergens," Dr. Tania Elliott, M.D., an allergist and the chief medical officer of EHE, tells Romper via email. "What does this mean? It may prevent wound healing because skin cells can develop a skin allergy to the tea tree oil." Check with a dermatologist or allergist and spot test it on your wrist before putting it on your face. While tea tree oil often doesn't cause a kind of burn like some essential oils can, spot testing or diluting it with a carrier oil can be a very good idea, especially if you have sensitive skin.

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