Pimples are frustrating and embarrassing blemishes that, for almost everyone, surface at some time in their lives. Some people are prone to dealing with them more than others.
When a pimple develops, it often seems to be in a prominent place on the face, usually at the worst possible time! Acne treatments come with harsh side effects and may not be for everyone.
Getting rid of pimples naturally is possible in many ways, including leading a lifestyle that is proactive while also employing some natural remedies for dealing with pimples when they do pop up.
Where Do Pimples Come From?
Acne is the most common skin condition in the U.S., affecting more than 80 percent of teens. For some, it continues into adulthood, impacting three percent of men and 12 percent of women.
Acne incidence is on the rise in recent decades, thanks in part to a fast-paced modern lifestyle that is loaded with acne and pimple triggers, such as:
- Autoimmune disease
- Hormone imbalances
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Food allergies
- Environmental allergies
- Poor diet
- PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
- Excessive sweating
- Poor personal hygiene
- Excessively oily skin
- Medication side effects
- Nutrient deficiencies
While other conditions or situations can lead to the development of pimples or acne, this encompasses most of the major ones.
Pimples in and of themselves are small pustules that form skin lesions. Most people are so grossed out by having pimples that they misunderstand what they are. They are not boils or contagious sores.
Pimples form when the oil glands, commonly in the face, get clogged or infected from bacteria. Everyone has bacteria on the surface of their skin, but not all bacteria is bad.
Bacteria comprises the human microbiome and is essential for human life. But sometimes, certain types of bacteria can infect the skin’s oil glands and lead to pimples.
While most pimples appear on the face and neck, some can experience them on the chest, back, and shoulders. Acne can lead to scarring in some cases, especially when the pimples are frequently picked at.
Popping pimples doesn’t make them immediately disappear but can lead to greater infection and inflammation in the area.
Why Conventional Medical Treatment for Pimples is Problematic
While pimples are often a big enough problem that people want to find a definitive cure for them, turning to medical or pharmaceutical treatment can be problematic at best and risky at worst.
Prescription treatments for acne come with side effects that range from irritating to severe, including any of the following:
- Bowel disorders and disease
- Bone growths or bone spurs
- Night blindness
- Vision loss
- Birth defects
- Learning disabilities
- Increased pressure in the skull
- Bone density problems
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Pancreatic disorders
- Mood changes, including aggressive or violent behaviors
- Heart problems
Clearly, those side effects range from uncomfortable (nobody wants to swap pimples for bowel problems!) to absolutely inappropriate: death is not an acceptable trade-off for getting rid of pimples. There has to be a better way.
Fortunately, there is: natural treatment options for pimples and acne abound.
7 Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Pimples and Acne
Pimples are annoying whether it’s just one sitting squarely on your forehead or a dozen sprawled across your face. No one enjoys them, and almost everyone would prefer a natural method of being rid of them, without dangerous side effects.
Natural methods of addressing pimples range from topical treatments to lifestyle alterations, to several things in between! You don’t have to do all of them to achieve success.
You just need to find the one or two go-to methods for addressing pimples and acne in your life and reap the benefits of not harming your body with terrible prescription side effects.
There are many dietary triggers for pimples and acne, including sugar, trans fats, processed foods, refined foods, grains, soda, dairy products, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, chocolate, and any foods you’re personally allergic or sensitive to.
Additionally, foods that cause blood sugar instability, like refined sugars, can lead to insulin imbalances, which have been associated with inflamed and clogged pores.
Instead, focus on eating foods that nourish the skin from the inside out, like omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, sardines, chia seeds), vitamin C-rich foods (bell peppers, berries, leafy greens, citrus fruits), and collagen, which is one of the building blocks of healthy body tissue.
Being hydrated is essential for healthy skin. Most people don’t realize they’re not getting an optimal amount of liquid because they’re spending too much time drinking liquids that end up dehydrating the body more, like soda and caffeine.
How much water a person needs depends on many factors, but a baseline starting point is taking your body weight in ounces, dividing it in half, and aiming for at least that many ounces of water each day.
For example, a 150-pound woman would need 75 ounces of water or other hydrating liquid, which includes herbal teas, coconut water, and sparkling water.
Another reason why hydration contributes to healthy skin is that it flushes toxins from the body. When these toxins aren’t efficiently eliminated they can cause skin disorders because of their effect on the gut, liver, and kidneys.
It’s easy to sell yourself short on the number of sleep hours in a busy culture, but when you frequently get less than seven to nine hours of sleep each night, inflammatory processes in the body can continue unchecked, no matter how great your diet is.
Stress is another factor that contributes to acne and pimples, and sleep can dramatically cut stress levels.
If you have trouble sleeping, it’s worth consulting an expert for ways to naturally improve your rest quality. Not only will this benefit your skin, but every other aspect of your health, too.
We all know that exercise is beneficial for a healthy body, but it directly impacts the health of skin, too. People who tend to struggle with oily skin might shun exercise that gets them sweaty, but it’s the act of sweating that can be so beneficial for skin.
Sweating sheds toxins from the body, which can help to eliminate issues relating to clogged pores.
Exercise also gets your blood moving faster, which can ensure that you’re getting optimal amounts of oxygen to your cells throughout the body. Nothing promotes healing faster than the right amount of oxygen.
Healthy skin-care routine
Over-washing and over-cleansing is a common problem in our society which is hyper-obsessed with cleanliness. While dirt isn’t beneficial for acne, over-washing and the resulting dried-out skin is also problematic.
It’s natural to assume that if your oily skin contributes to pimples or acne that you want to dry it out, but over-drying can result in worse pimples or skin problems.
Skip fancy cleansers and soaps, especially any with artificial fragrance, and opt for gentle, natural cleansers, like castile soap or coconut oil.
If you want to exfoliate, skip the harsh scrubs and make your own gentle cleanser by combining used coffee grounds with Manuka honey, or by using an avocado mask to reduce inflammation in the face.
Coconut oil can also work as a natural moisturizer, and even though it’s a heavy-feeling oil, it’s rich in lauric acid, which makes it antibacterial. Coconut oil can be a perfect cleanser, make-up remover, and night-time moisturizer.
Focusing on a natural, healthy skin-care routine is essential for vital, acne-free skin.
If you have a pimple that you want to get rid of ASAP, then spot-treating can sometimes work. There are many natural options to try, but it’s important to understand that they can sometimes produce more irritation.
Don’t broadly use a spot-treatment if it’s your first time using it. Even though these are natural, they might not be right for you.
For most of these, you would dab the affected area—directly on the pimple only—and not treat the entire face. These are also not used for prevention, but for dealing with them at first sign or with a pimple that just won’t go away.
Natural topical treatment options include:
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Baking soda
- Egg white
- Manuka honey
- Raw garlic
- Ice cubes
- Tea tree oil
- Green tea
- Aloe vera
Most of these options can be used two to three times daily, and several work best when applied before bed. Topical treatments also work best when combined with a healthy skin-care routine, dietary changes, and overall lifestyle adjustments.
Attempting to deal with acne or pimples as a topical problem only will typically result in pimples that keep coming back. When you take a topical and internal approach, you address the surface problem and the deeper root cause, leading to more relief from the condition.
Vitamin E oil is another topical remedy that can be used to provide antioxidant moisture to the face and can be used in conjunction with any of the above topical approaches. When purchasing, make sure it’s pure vitamin E oil doesn’t contain additional fillers or fragrance.
Essential oils can be powerful natural medicines when used correctly. Many have been studied and have been proven effective as topical ways to address acne and pimples.
Tea tree oil is probably the most popular. It is potently antibacterial and safe for direct application to the skin. If dealing with a pimple, apply tea tree oil directly to the area two to three times daily and allow to naturally dry.
This is safe to do daily for as long as needed. If acne is spread across the face, you can mix a few drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and use as an all-over face moisturizer but use extreme caution to avoid the eyes, eyelids, under eyes, and surrounding area.
Rosemary essential oil is also a great oil to use for inflamed skin and has antibacterial benefits, too. Apply directly to the affected area and allow to air dry, up to two or three times daily.
Frankincense is another antibacterial essential oil that is wonderful for acne and pimples. It can help to eliminate bacteria from the face and can also help to diminish the appearance of acne scars.
Frankincense is so potent it has also been used to address eczema and psoriasis. You can add frankincense to coconut oil or other face oils and use for a daily moisturizer. Frankincense oil should not be used on or around the eyes.
Lavender, perhaps everyone’s favorite EO, is a great natural remedy for acne and pimples. It can help to regenerate skin cells and reduce scarring while cutting inflammation.
Since lavender is often preferred for its scent over tea tree or other essential oils, you can mix lavender and other oils that fight acne to create a custom scent that is preferable. Lavender can also be added to a daily moisturizer or face wash.
Acne and pimples are a frustrating and often embarrassing skin issue that can be tied to underlying health issues, like dietary triggers or inflammation, or which can be caused by genetic tendencies.
If you want to naturally address acne or pimples, there are several options that don’t have side effects or produce scary results like prescription medications.
Whatever the approach you take, viewing acne and pimples as a surface problem relating to an underlying issue can help to minimize frustration. It’s not just that you have bad skin; you have an internal issue that can be addressed.
Approaching acne and pimples from a holistic perspective, where you address it from a topical and internal approach, is often the most successful way to take care of pimples for good.
While you may not get the combination that works for you on the first try, with a little experimentation and some patience, you’ll be well on your way to addressing your skin issues and enjoying the glow of a healthy, blemish-free face.
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- Magin P, Adams J, Heading G, Pond D, Smith W. Psychological sequelae of acne vulgaris: results of a qualitative study. Can Fam Physician 2006; 52: 978-979.
- Prior J, Khadaroo A. ‘I sort of balance it out’. Living with facial acne in emerging adulthood. J Health Psychol 2015; 20(9): 1154-1165.
- Tan JK, Vasey K, Fung KY. Beliefs and perceptions of patients with acne. J Am Acad Dermatol 2001; 44(3): 439-445.
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.