Acne is a common skin condition that affects most people at some point. It is mostly linked to the changes in hormone levels during puberty, but can start at any age. Acne comes in different forms and the type you have will determine the severity of the symptoms.
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According to the NHS, nodules, large hard lumps that build up beneath the surface of the skin, can be particularly painful.
A more milder version of acne is a papule, a small red bump that may feel tender or sore, explains the health.
Unfortunately, acne cannot be cured, but there are treatments available to alleviate the symptoms.
One natural treatment is tea tree oil, which is made from the leaves of the Australian tree of the same name.
The essential oil has been shown to treat both mild to moderate cases of acne.
A study published in the Austalasian journal of Dermatology, participants applied tea tree oil to their face twice daily for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, researchers concluded tea tree oil has the ability to “significantly improve” mild to moderate acne with no serious side effects.
Another study looked at using a combination of tea tree oil and resveratrol to protect the skin from sun damage.
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Resveratrol is a compound that various plants make to fight off bacteria, fungi, and other microbial attackers.
Although not the aim of the study, researchers found most participants had less oil and bacteria on their skin, as well as smaller pores – factors that could potentially improve acne.
Furthermore, research has shown that tea tree oil has both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
This may help with treating inflammatory acne lesions, such as pimples.
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Other ways to alleviate acne
According to the NHS, these self-help techniques may be useful:
- Do not wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
- Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
- Do not try to “clean out” blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring.
- Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic. This means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin.
- Completely remove make-up before going to bed.
- If dry skin is a problem, use a fragrance-free water-based emollient.
- Regular exercise cannot improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising as sweat can irritate your acne.
- Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.
What to do if acne problems persist
If the self-help tips do not provide relief, you should see a GP, advises the health body.
“You should see a GP if you have moderate or severe acne or you develop nodules or cysts, as they need to be treated properly to avoid scarring,” explains the health site.
If you are experiencing a severe bout of acne, you should resist the temptation to pick or squeeze the spots, as this can lead to permanent scarring, it warns.
Can you treat acne scars?
According to Bupa, several treatments have been designed to reduce and improve acne scars but at the moment there isn’t much evidence that any of them work.
“Treatments to get rid of acne scars include laser resurfacing, dermabrasion and chemical peels, and a procedure called skin needling,” explains the health body.
These treatments aren’t available on the NHS because they’re considered to be cosmetic surgery, however.
A less invasive option is to apply a make-up product designed to help cover up some types of acne scarring.
Bupa explains: “These are creams and powders that match your skin colour – but they can’t fill in scars or flatten out raised scars. You can access these products through a Skin Camouflage Service.”
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