A Quick Fix for Acne

Let's face it, having acne is the worst. Couple it with being prone to ingrown hairs and having oily skin and you may as well move alone to some cold, frigid climate and grow facial hair and become a mountain (wo)man. Okay, maybe not something that dramatic.. but what is a girl to do? 

Growing up and now into my twenties, I have struggled with acne and ingrown hairs since I can remember. Once old enough, I would go tanning just to let the UV rays dry up those pesky zits and leave my skin less oily. Although seemingly helpful (if you discount the carcinogenic risk), this was not a long term fix. My pediatrician had prescribed me antibiotics in high school and yes I admit they do help very well, but also lacking the long term fix I was looking for AND not to mention exposing the bacteria on and in my body to possible antibiotic resistance (yes, this is a real threat people). While I can preach to you on the benefits of eating well to reduce acne, the reality is most people (including myself) are somewhat lazy and are always looking for something quick. While I must confess here that I was on a strick, vegetarian diet for almost a year and my skin was the best it's ever been, but that's not what this post was intended for, let's focus on quick relief.

I found relief in products containing benzoyl peroxide and highly suggest them especially if you're in need of a fix asap. The compound dries out the acne lesions fairly quickly and reduces redness. Melaleuca alternifolia at the same concentration of benzoyl peroxide (5% is commonly found) has been proven to provide the same acne relief if reapplied (M. alternifollia acts slower); even though it's not as fast as benzoyl peroxide, it's noted that side effects in studies are considerably lower than those with use of benzoyl peroxide. So what the heck is this Melalueca alternifolia and is it hard to find? Calm down, you can find it at Walgreens it's Australia's native, tea tree. Tea tree oil is proven to have broad spectrum antimicrobial activity, and as a huge plus.. it's natural. Natural food stores (and Amazon, of course) sell it as a gel or cream that people can use or just buy it over the counter as an oil and find a recipe for a face cream! I use it on my face, back, and even in my armpits (they make tea tree antiperspirant) with great relief and reduced redness. I have a considerably lower level of reoccurrence and ingrown hairs. Plus, for those with dandruff, tea tree shampoos and conditioner are available for great relief! 

Okay, prepare for the nerdiness (you don't have to read further if you're not prepared). My inner science loving self came out, and I did a little research. Knowing that acne lesions are caused by bacteria, I wanted to check out why and what tea tree oil helps before I told people to try it. Like I stated, it's a broad spectrum antimicrobial. Many bacterial genus are susceptible to tea tree components, and seen in studies of bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus it greatly compromises the cytoplasmic membrane (yes, that's a thing I told you to prepare for the nerdiness). Tea tree oil can reduce histamine induced skin inflammation. Looking further into journals I found via databases such as Science Direct, tea tree oil is used in products to combat Candida (yeast infections). Just to be clear I am NOT telling you to put tea tree oil "down there." Also, Europe PMC has published studies since 2001 finding promising results with combating HSV outbreaks with tea tree oil. Pretty neat, huh? 

Bottom line: incorporate tea tree oil into your beauty routine if you're looking for antimicrobial effects.