Experiencing breakouts can make you feel self-conscious and embarrassed. You might wonder what you can do differently to stop acne from showing up at the worst times. Blemishes are more than an inconvenience when you have a presentation to make or want to enjoy a night out. Skin conditions that cause you to be uncomfortable can affect your ability to perform and socialize.
It may help to know that acne is a common skin ailment, especially in your teen and young adult years. While there are many traditional treatments, such as benzoyl peroxide, you may not appreciate some of their side effects. Or they may simply not work for you. If that’s the case, you might be pleased to learn there are unconventional acne solutions you won’t find in the natural skincare brands aisle. Here are five of them.
1. Birth Control Pills
One of the contributing causes of acne is hormones, particularly androgens that stimulate oil production in your skin. Your hormones can shift or get out of balance due to puberty, stress, menstrual cycles, and polycystic ovary syndrome. For females, excess androgens and too much progesterone can lead to breakouts. Certain types of birth control can help regulate your body’s hormones, preventing the fluctuations that can lead to acne.
The types of birth control pills that help prevent breakouts contain a low dose of estrogen. The estrogen works by balancing out the effects of androgens and progesterone. Doctors and dermatologists may prescribe these pills to female patients to treat moderate cases of acne.
While birth control pills are not appropriate for everyone, they are effective at clearing breakouts for some patients. Several individuals also use birth control in combination with other treatments.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has become a popular supplement for those who want to lose weight or lower their blood sugar. But some people have tried apple cider vinegar as a topical treatment for their acne.
Why is that? Because another cause of breakouts is P. acnes bacteria that lives on your skin. When that bacterium exists in higher amounts, you’re more likely to experience unwanted skin changes. It’s thought that vinegar and citric acid can reduce P. acnes bacteria.
Another ingredient in apple cider vinegar, lactic acid, has also shown promise in reducing the appearance of acne scars. Since the acidic ingredients in this unconventional treatment can irritate your skin, it’s best to dilute it. If your skin is sensitive, you’ll want to use smaller amounts of apple cider vinegar and more water. You can also wash it off after a few seconds.
3. Zinc and Niacin Supplements
Taking additional zinc and niacin supplements can help prevent and clear acne breakouts. Zinc is a mineral that can boost your immune system, while niacin is a B vitamin that supports healthy skin. What some people may not know about zinc is that it can also support your metabolism, cells, and hormones.
Some research has found that people who experience frequent breakouts have lower levels of zinc in their systems. Taking supplements up to the recommended daily allowance can increase zinc levels. Having an adequate amount of zinc in your system could decrease the number and frequency of your breakouts. Since zinc also has anti-inflammatory effects, the supplement can reduce the severity of your acne and the potential for scarring.
When taken in higher doses, niacin can produce a temporary flush in your skin. The flush occurs because of an increase in blood flow to your skin’s surface. Some acne patients have shown improvement in their breakouts due to niacin flushes. However, the body can build up a tolerance to niacin, and flushing can decrease or stop over time. Still, taking niacin orally or using topical treatments that contain it have both been shown to reduce acne in clinical studies.
4. Green Tea
You typically think of green tea as a hot or cold beverage to enjoy. It’s also a popular ingredient in weight loss supplements because of its caffeine content. Plus, green tea is a powerful anti-inflammatory rich in antioxidants. It’s these antioxidants or polyphenols that some individuals find beneficial in treating acne.
Polyphenols can reduce both inflammation and bacteria. High degrees of systemic or localized inflammation are additional contributing causes of blemishes. More severe cases of acne are associated with increased inflammation. Taking green tea as a supplement or drinking more of it can help calm inflammation in the skin and body. However, there isn’t enough current research to draw a definitive link between green tea consumption and breakout prevention.
On the other hand, there is evidence that applying green tea to your skin can treat acne. When you use green tea topically, it can reduce oil production, inflammation, and the growth of P. acnes bacteria. You’ll be addressing three of the sources of your blemishes at once.
5. Dietary Changes
The link between eating certain foods and acne is somewhat controversial. You’ll find that some doctors state there isn’t one, while others will recommend changes to your diet. In general, those who advocate for nutritional modifications will have you stay away from foods with a lot of sugar. These include items like desserts, non-diet soda, highly processed foods, and white bread.
Processed foods, non-complex carbs, and sugars cause your body to quickly raise its insulin levels. And it’s this rush of insulin that can lead to two things — systemic inflammation and increased oil or sebum production. Incorporating low-glycemic foods and foods that don’t spike your insulin levels can help prevent these two things from happening. Low-glycemic foods include vegetables, nuts, and complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains.
Dairy products, especially skim milk, also have some associations with acne. The hormones in these products can aggravate breakouts and cause them to become more severe for some individuals. This is more likely to be the case in patients with hormonal acne, such as adult women. Dairy products can contain the insulin-like growth factor-1 hormone, which is linked to the development of blemishes.
Seeing yet another breakout on your skin can be frustrating. You know you’re doing your best to keep your skin clean and clear. While you should make an appointment with a dermatologist for severe cases, you don’t always have to use conventional treatments. Systemic solutions and natural topical ingredients may be just as effective as over-the-counter creams and astringents. With a little experimentation, you could be on your way to blemish-free skin.