This herbal remedy is tea tree oil, originating in the Australian aboriginal healing tradition, is tea tree oil. Physicians conducting a study at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in New South Wales reported that a 5 per cent solution of tea tree oil was as effective as a 5 per cent cream containing benzyl peroxide for reducing the number of pimples on acne-affected skin.
The benzyl peroxide cream achieved faster results, but the tea tree oil produced less irritation, and better long-term results. Tea tree oil checks the growth of 27 out of 32 strains of Propionibacterium acnes, the microorganism that causes most uncomplicated cases of acne.
It can be used at strengths of up to 15 per cent for the most severe cases of acne, and it is extremely unlikely to cause any undesirable effects. Keep tea tree oil and all herbal products, however, away from small children.
Much herbal soap for acne is made from calendula or marigold, which are the same herb. The term calendula is more commonly listed on the label for bath products and the garden term marigold is used in the herbal medicine trade. Soaps made with calendula petals kill the bacterium that causes folliculitis, Staphylococcus aureus. This is a bacterium that is not affected by tea tree oil.
Pure essential oil of calendula, dabbed on the skin with a clean applicator used once and then thrown away, is good for relieving pain in the skin. One clinical study found it was as effective as the over the counter NSAID Indocin (indomethacin), but since the essential oil does not have to pass through the digestive tract, it does not cause digestive upset.
There are several other natural products of plant origin that are useful in treating acne, but not everyone who has acne should use them. Alpha-hydroxyl acids are found in all sorts of fruit.
Exactly, how they control acne is not know, but they act as a humectants, moisturizing the skin, and as an exfoliant, gently lifting dead skin that covers pores. They make the skin more flexible and they accelerate cell growth in the layer of the skin just below the pore, moving a “front” of healthy skin upward to replace the area of inflammation.
If you have dry or sensitive skin with acne, however, you should not use alpha-hydroxyl acids. You also should not use these herb-derived exfoliants if you are sensitive to sun.
Azelaic acid is found in grains such as barley, rye, and wheat. It prevents hyperkeratosis, the excessive growth of skin cells over the opening of pores. It is also antibacterial against both the Propionibacterium acnes that cause common acne and the Staphylococcus aureus that causes folliculitis, cellulitis, boils, and abscesses.
Physicians at the University of California at San Francisco have found that is useful as benzyl peroxide, Retin-A, erythromycin, and tetracycline, although it is not as useful as Accutane for acne conglobata, the form of acne that causes pustules that grow and merge together.