Acne happens when hair follicles become blocked by oil and dead skin. It may be an isolated blemish, a small outbreak, or constant and severe acne that can lead to scarring. It is most common in teens, but can also occur in adults and children. Since it affects a person’s physical appearance, it can also lower self-esteem and result in social withdrawal.

Standard treatments include medications and procedures to control outbreaks. Some people look to alternative treatments when standard ones do not control acne or have bothersome side effects. Talk to a doctor about severe acne. If left untreated it can cause severe scarring.

Natural Therapies

Possibly Effective

  • Topical tea tree oil (Note: Tea tree oil can be poisonous if swallowed or taken by mouth. It may also irritate the skin.) A1-A2
  • Low glycemic load diet C2, C3
  • Topical nicotinamide B13, B19
  • Oral zinc (Note: High doses of zinc may result in side effects that range from nausea and vomiting to reduced immune function or reduced iron function.) B1-B12, B14-B20

Other factors that may help:

  • Chocolate avoidance C1
  • Sugar avoidance C1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about all herbs or supplements you are taking. Some may interact with your treatment plan or health conditions. Some supplements discussed here have certain concerns such as:

  • Tea tree oil is known to be poisonous if swallowed or taken by mouth. It may also irritate the skin, especially in high concentrations.
  • Zinc in high doses may result in side effects that range from nausea and vomiting to reduced immune function or problems with iron.

Revision Information