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A blemish appears in the form of a spot, patch, or discoloration on the skin. While they are generally not a health problem, facial blemishes can make you conscious of your looks.
There are various preventive measures and home remedies that you can try to help improve the appearance of such spots.
Home Remedies for Blemishes
You can do several things at home to help manage blemishes.
Patch test: Before trying any of the topical remedies on your face, do a patch test by applying a small amount on the underside of your arm to rule out the risk of skin irritation or other side effects.
1. Try steaming
Steaming is a gentle heat therapy that is commonly used to open up plugged pores to facilitate the expulsion of their trapped content. This age-old technique can easily be performed at home and can help deeply cleanse your congested skin pores.
Certain pore-cleaning tools are available as well that can be used to extract the contents of the blocked pore after steaming.
The warmth of the steam helps to draw out the dirt, impurities, bacteria, dead skin cells, and sebum from within the pores to the surface of the skin, preventing the formation of blemishes.
2. Exfoliate your skin
The accumulation of dead skin cells in your pores is a major contributing factor to the development of acne, which is why it is crucial to exfoliate your skin from time to time.
Mechanical exfoliation usually entails the use of liquid scrubs with granules or cloths that gently remove the dead skin cells.
Chemical exfoliants include salicylic acid and glycolic acid, which accelerate the shedding of the topmost layer of dead, damaged skin to reveal fresh, new layers of spotless skin. Ask your dermatologist to recommend the safest and most appropriate exfoliating agent for your skin type and condition.
Dead epithelial cells tend to settle in your pores and clog them, giving rise to blackheads, whiteheads, and other more serious forms of acne. Regular exfoliation helps keep your skin pores squeaky clean while enhancing blood flow in the face.
3. Use aloe vera gel
The skin benefits of aloe vera gel have been widely acknowledged but need further scientific validation. This naturally occurring emollient may help moisturize the skin and protect it from sun-induced UV damage.
Aloe vera is credited with significant skin-healing potential. It also keeps the skin hydrated, helping to preserve its structural integrity. (1)
How to use:
Massage fresh aloe vera gel on your face or use aloe vera-based creams.
4. Apply honey
Honey may help fade scars. However, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to substantiate this claim. Broad-based studies are required to establish the efficacy of honey for the treatment of scars. (2)
How to use:
Warm 2 tablespoons of honey and gently apply it to your face. Wash your face after 10 minutes and pat it dry. You can also add a bit of turmeric to the honey, which can add to the anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and antioxidant effects of this remedy.
Caution: Turmeric is a potent ingredient that may not suit everyone. So, conduct a patch test before applying it to your acne-ridden face, and stop its use if you notice any adverse reaction.
5. Use lemon
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that offers a variety of skin benefits, including the treatment of hyperpigmentation, premature skin aging, and other types of blemishes. However, further research is needed to conclusively establish this dermatological claim.
Lemon is a rich reserve of vitamin C and may help diminish the appearance of blemishes with repeated application. In fact, lemon juice has been part of many anecdotal topical home treatments for fading spots and blemishes.
Caution: The application of vitamin C-containing creams causes certain oxidative changes in the skin. Given that the skin around the eyes is thinner than your normal skin, extra precaution is recommended when applying vitamin C or any cream in such delicate areas. (3)
6. Try cucumber
Cucumber is loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C that help improve skin health.
How to use:
Soak a cotton ball in fresh cucumber juice and apply it to your skin. Leave it on for 20 minutes and wash the area using cold water after.
7. Apply cold and warm compresses
If you really must do something about your pimple beyond washing your face and spot treating, a cold compress can help. This gentle cold therapy helps reduce the pain, redness, and swelling associated with inflammatory acne.
How to use:
Wrap an ice cube in a soft tissue or cloth and place it on your acne for 20–30 seconds at a stretch, a few times a day.
Caution: Never apply the ice cube directly to the skin, as the intense cold can further damage the tissue and even lead to frostbite.
You can also use a warm compress to draw out the pus from a pimple so that it heals quickly. When you apply mild heat onto the deep-seated zit, the pus travels upward and it forms a head.
How to use: Simply dip a clean washcloth in moderately warm water and then wring out the excess fluid. Ensure that the damp cloth isn’t too hot for your skin before applying it to your face.
8. Use tomatoes
Tomatoes possess astringent properties that help shrink large pores and treat acne. However, there are no studies on the use of tomatoes for treating blemishes.
How to use:
Massage tomato pulp on your face and leave it on for 15 minutes. Rinse with cool water.
9. Apply apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been anecdotally used for acne treatment, but there is no scientific evidence to confirm its effectiveness and safety.
The alkaline nature of ACV may help tone the skin and improve its pH balance when applied topically, while its antimicrobial properties can help curb the growth of acne-causing bacteria.
When taken orally, ACV can help reduce the acidic environment inside the body to make it less conducive to bacterial growth. It also provides infection-fighting probiotics to reduce the severity and frequency of acne breakouts.
How to use:
People with acne-prone skin can use ACV as a mild antiseptic toner.
- Simply dilute half a cup of ACV in the same amount of water in a glass container.
- Pour the liquid in a sterile bottle and then give it a shake so that solution mixes well.
- Pour a few drops onto a clean cotton ball, and use it to gently wipe your face but only after washing.
Caution: Make sure to dilute ACV before using it.
10. Use zinc
Zinc helps regulate the production of sebum by acting on the androgenic hormones such as testosterone. (4)
How to use:
- Add more foods that are rich in zinc to an overall healthy, well-balanced diet. Some of the best dietary sources of zinc include dried watermelon seeds, oysters, fortified cereals, beans, potatoes, roast beef, and lamb.
- If you fail to meet your required intake of zinc through foods, ask your doctor to put you on a zinc supplement.
- You can also apply zinc-containing creams, (5) but consult your dermatologist about the proper usage.
Prevention and Self-Care Tips
Taking good care of your skin and protecting it from acne-triggering factors can help prevent facial blemishes.
1. Effective prevention begins with sunscreen
Sun exposure is one of the primary causes of skin damage. You may be surprised to know that the UV rays of the sun can find their way to your skin even when you are not directly under the sun.
Therefore, your daily skincare regimen must include proper sun protection, regardless of the weather conditions. Moreover, stay out of the sun as much as you can, particularly between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when it is at its zenith.
Things to look for in a sunscreen:
- Sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or greater
- “Broad-spectrum protection,” which means that it blocks both UVA and UVB rays
- “Non-acnegenic” or “non-comedogenic,” which means that the product does not clog your pores
Sunscreen may not be enough to protect your skin from sun damage. It is recommended to cover up the bare areas of your skin with sun-protective clothing such as a face mask, gloves, and socks.
2. Following a hygienic facial care regimen is key
It is essential to have a proper skincare routine that includes exfoliating, cleansing, and moisturizing your skin.
Additionally, keep the following points in mind:
- Do not over-cleanse your face. Skin experts say that you do not need to wash your face more than two times a day. Frequently washing or scrubbing your face in an attempt to keep it dirt-free only dries out and irritates your skin.
- Keep your face away from contaminated surfaces. Try not to touch your face at all, but if you must, always make sure that you clean your hands first. Wipe clean your phone screen from time to time as it comes in regular contact with your facial skin.
- Do not pick at your blemishes. Squeezing or scratching a facial lesion further damages the skin tissue and increases the risk of permanent scarring and infection.
- Be mindful of your makeup. Look for makeup products that do not contain skin irritants such as dyes and fragrances that can aggravate eczema and other dermatological problems. Acne-prone people must use lightweight, water-based, non-comedogenic makeup to prevent clogged pores.
3. Keep stress in check
Stress management is important in keeping inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema, under control. High levels of stress hormone (cortisol) in the body can trigger a flare-up of atopic dermatitis and excess oil production.
You can try meditative techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, and listening to soothing music. Also, make sure to get enough rest and sleep, which may help rejuvenate your skin cells.
4. Water is essential
Water is a panacea for skin health. Drink at least 7–8 glasses of water throughout the day to keep your skin hydrated from within.
A well-hydrated body is better equipped to fight inflammation, which is at the root of several skin conditions. Moreover, maintaining optimum fluid intake is necessary for proper blood circulation.
5. Diet modification can help
You cannot expect to have healthy-looking, flawless skin unless you follow a healthy, nutritionally wholesome diet.
The following food choices may help keep your skin free of blemishes:
- Increase your consumption of green and yellow vegetables as they are replete with carotenoids, plant pigments that exhibit significant antioxidant potential.
- Include unprocessed, whole foods in your daily intake as much as you can to diminish the appearance of cellulite, prevent acne, and improve the appearance of your skin in general.
- Stick to a primarily plant-based diet to lower your intake of methionine. This may help in the treatment and prevention of some common forms of skin cancer.
- If you have particularly sensitive skin, flax seeds may help your skin fare better against blemishes, provided they are eaten in appropriate amounts.
- Eat a wholesome diet that is rich in various skin-friendly nutrients, primarily vitamins A, E, and D, and zinc to keep blemishes at bay.
Most-Asked Questions About Blemishes
Can witch hazel help with my skin blemishes?
Witch hazel is a medicinal shrub that has been used for relieving a variety of skin conditions, including acne. Witch hazel is found in many skin care products and is also sold as an essential oil. (6)
The good side: It may work as an anti-inflammatory agent to ease the swelling and redness associated with acne lesions. Moreover, witch hazel also exhibits astringent properties that can help shrink skin pores and tone the skin. (7)
The flipside: Witch hazel does not suit everyone and can sometimes worsen your acne. Thus, it is best if you consult a skin specialist before including this remedy in your skin regimen.
Also, conduct a patch test on the underside of your arm to make sure you are not allergic to it. Discontinue the product as soon as you notice any skin irritation or adverse reaction.
For instance, witch hazel toners that contain alcohol can suck the moisture out of your skin and exacerbate your acne and other skin problems such as eczema or dermatitis, as has been reported by some users.
Can tea tree oil cure my acne?
Tea tree oil is one of the most sought-after products for acne treatment, thanks to its strong antibacterial properties. (8)
This is backed by considerable scientific research with some degree of limitations, and skin experts routinely recommend this topical agent as a safe and effective treatment for acne. (8)
However, there have been cases where people developed skin irritation or an allergic rash after using this oil. Thus, it is essential that you conduct a patch test before applying the oil on your face.
Also, tea tree oil is extremely strong at its original potency and must be diluted with a carrier oil before application. You can use any carrier oil of your choice, such as vegetable oil, olive oil, or almond oil.
Poor skin care and a lack of sun protection are the most common causes of skin damage, including blemish formation. Therefore, it is important to follow a proper skincare routine.
While it doesn’t guarantee against blemishes, it can largely reduce the risk of spot formation. Moreover, various home remedies can help in reducing facial blemishes.