Before antibiotics, honey was used for thousands of years to help heal wounds. Today it is still considered an effective antiseptic in that it prevents the growth of disease causing organisms. But is honey an effective acne treatment? We examine honey and acne in this post.
(If you’re not sure exactly how acne occurs, shoot over to our About Acne page, which explains the lifecycle of a pimple, and then come back to read this post)
How honey treats acne:
Honey is an antiseptic: An antiseptic prevents the growth of disease causing organisms, AKA the bacteria in your pore. Honey releases low levels of hydrogen peroxide that disinfects your skin. Additionally, It’s high sugar concentration and acidic properties impair bacteria’s ability to replicate. Applying an antiseptic to a fully developed pimple or a whitehead can stop the infection in your pore from getting worse.
Honey also has anti-inflammatory qualities that help prevent the swelling and redness that can come from acne. Finally, for those with dry skin, honey is a natural humectant, which preserves moisture in your skin and can prevent some peeling and dryness that other acne treatments can cause.
The bad news about honey and acne:
Bacteria is only part of the equation of acne breakouts. A pimple occurs because your pore is clogged. Many times the bacteria builds up because your pore doesn’t drain your naturally produced oil. The oil rich environment in your pore creates an environment for the bacteria to flourish. While honey may be effective at diminishing the bacteria it reaches, if your pore is clogged, there’s no way for the honey to get inside and do its job.
Use the best over-the-counter treatment… BPO:
Because of this issue of getting within the follicle, benzoyl peroxide (BPO) is a better over-the-counter alternative for treating acne. BPO is more effective at getting within the follicle, where it releases oxygen molecules that immediately kill most the bacteria. BPO can be harsher on your skin, especially if you dry easily. If this is the case, you can use a facial moisturizer to help alleviate pealing.
If you still want to give honey a try, here are the best practices:
- Make sure to use raw honey that you purchase from a food store (the honey in the plastic bear and others like it are processed and may irritate your skin.)
- Wash your face first with mild soap and lukewarm water. Massage your face with just your fingertips; don’t use a towel or scrub (this causes irritation). Pat dry with a soft towel.
- Before your skin dries, apply the raw honey to your face using wet hands. Massage it into your skin and allow it to stay on for at least a couple of minutes
- WARNING: if you’re allergic to bees, it might be a good call to avoid a honey mask.
If you have more than the occasional pimple…
Honey and/or benzoyl peroxide might deliver some minor benefits to your acne, but it cannot be the primary treatment for moderate to severe acne. It is important that you apply more effective medications, like topical retinoids.
Fortunately, topical retinoids are not hard to obtain. All you need is to do is consult with a dermatologist, who will write you a prescription for the medication.
ABOUT US: YoDerm is the only way to get a prescription medication safely and legally online. Each of our dermatologists are board-certified and will treat your acne within 24 hours. If you’re struggling to get clear, click here, and let us help you.
- Kwakman, P. H. “Antibacterial Components of Honey.” IUBMB Life 64.1 (2012): 48-55. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22095907>.