Acne can strike at any age. Although itâ€™s more common among teenagers, and sometimes in women going through menopause, acne affects an estimated 50 million people in the United States each year.
Acne surfaces during times of hormonal imbalance. When glands produce more oil than normal, skin pores get clogged, allowing bacteria (and pimples) to grow.
Pimples come in many different forms and depths, including blackheads whiteheads, cysts, and nodules. To banish them, research has long pointed to topical medications such as benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics like tetracycline, and oral drugs that contain vitamin A, such as isotretinoin, which is for moderate to severe acne.
Alternatively, some seek more natural treatments such oral vitamin and mineral supplements. Do natural remedies also work? And if so, which ones? Find out below.
Vitamin A is a possible remedy for acne, but you need to make sure youâ€™re getting it the right way.
Vitamin A oral supplements donâ€™t work the same as topical vitamin A, according to clinicians at the University of Michigan. In fact, they caution against the supplement, as it can do more harm than good.
Because the vitamin is fat-soluble, it builds up in your body, and a high intake of more than 10,000 international units (IU) can be toxic. This is especially true during pregnancy, so women who are planning on becoming pregnant should check with their doctors before starting any supplements.
But as a topical medication, vitamin A can help with your acne. Most topical medications chemically alter the vitamin into a retinoid that you can apply to the skin. According to the Mayo Clinic, retinoids are the most effective treatment for acne because of their ability to regenerate and heal the skin rapidly, so that you quickly have fresh skin.
Popular retinoid brands â€” in the order of least side effects â€” include tazarotene (Tazorac) and adapalene (Differin). You can get them only with a prescription.
Pregnant women shouldnâ€™t take retinoids. The substance also weakens your skinâ€™s natural UV protection, so people using retinoids should take care to avoid long exposure to the sun and use sunscreen.
Zinc is a mineral that can also help with acne. You can take it as an oral supplement or as a topical treatment.
A recent review of the past studies on the topic found that zinc can decrease oil production in the skin, and can protect against bacterial infection and inflammation.
You only need small amounts of zinc in your body. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends a daily allowance for adults of 8-11 milligrams (mg). There is some evidence that a relatively safe dose of 30 mg can help treat acne. Higher amounts of zinc may be harmful. Some people have reported becoming ill from taking too much zinc, and excessive zinc intake can lead to a copper deficiency.
Topical lotions that contain zinc can also help with acne. One study found that applying a lotion of 1.2 percent zinc acetate and 4 percent erythromycin significantly cleared the skin.