Acne home remedies – Myths that make things worse vs what works.

Hello doctor, I had a few acne spots on my face the other day and I wanted to get rid of them. So, I went into the internet and found a site that said to put neosporin and bandaids over them and they will be gone in the morning. I did this and woke up with a patch of red under each eye, and little bumps on my forehdad, and the acne spots still there! I regret doing this so much and I was wondering how can I get rid of the red spots, and the bumps, and hopefully the acne fast!

Just when I thought I’d heard everything!  🙂 I really don’t blame you for trying this because it sounds harmless, doesn’t it? We’ve all taken some advice from the web that we’ve regretted. But, this is an awful idea! Can I be the contrarian on this? I know these are popular to try, but why? Acne gels, creams, masques and lotions, from the drugstore versions to the prescription versions, have improved so much in the past 20 years! They work for all except for the more severe cases. So why try and concoct acne home remedies, which you have no data to guarantee it works? Having said that, I can tell you a few things that are harmless to try at home, and at least warn you off the acne home remedies that will make things worse!

If you have cysts or pustules, or just tender bumps that are leaving scars (here’s my article on treating acne scars), please see your primary care doctor, or your dermatologist. If you have more mild acne, a good aesthetician can be very helpful.

Acne home remedies: Here’s what not to try

  • Anything with neosporin in it. Why avoid this? About 5-10% of people are allergic to this and it will cause a rash.
  • Bandaids, tape, duct tape, etc. The adhesive will irritate your skin, and some people are allergic to adhesive itself.
  • Mud from the garden, and most things from the fridge. Bacterial contamination can get transferred to your skin and cause an infection. If you can truly sterilize it some way, that might be ok. But it’s hard to do at home, without proper equipment.
  • Known toxins. These are things like charcoal, chemicals not approved for skin use, things you wouldn’t eat!

Here’s what you might try:

  • A homemade mask with an oatmeal base.
  • Honey is usually fine as long as it’s been pasteurized.
  • Egg whites: The one exception to the fridge rule. As long as the egg shell isn’t broken somewhere, these are usually fine

There are lots of inexpensive good drugstore masques that contain sterilized clay. Look at the ingredient lists and pick one with words you can understand. Avoid the ones with a long list of chemicals. These are a affordable and better alternative to trying things at home, which you can’t guarantee wont make things worse.

Hope this helps!!

Dr. I

Read my more in depth resource about acne here.

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skincare advocate.

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