This is my collection of "acne cures"! These have all been sent to me by people claiming that they have cured their acne. I've had just as many people write to me saying they tried some of these methods with no effect, or even that it made their acne worse. I am now quite convinced that there is no such thing as a guaranteed acne cure, and you just have to find something that works for you.
I accept no responsibility for the effects of following these suggestions! I am offering them in good faith, as they were given to me. If you are in any doubt, consult a qualified doctor/homeopath/nutritionist etc!
Drink lots of water! No-one has ever disagreed with that one!
Whatever you wash with, rinse your face with lots of clean water afterwards.
Have a warm (not hot)shower every morning. Very hot water can make things worse!
Drink a cup of boiled water - just cool enough to drink - before bed every night.
Eat a "healthy" diet - If your body is healthier in general, it is better able to fight the bacteria that cause acne.
Visit an Allergy Tester to find out if any particular foods are causing your acne
Many people have recomended food supplements, including retinol, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, evening primrose oil, B vitamins, vitamin E, Chromium and Echinacea.
There are many diet plans which are supposed to cure acne, but they all seem to be very complicated, and in some cases, contradictory. If you want to try one, I suggest you buy a book!
Don't use soap. Use a small amount of soap-free cleanser, and rinse with lots of water. Soap is very drying to your skin.
Use a non-scented moisturiser. If your skin is dry, it will produce more oil, and the oil is more likely to become trapped in your pores.
Avoid make-up except for special occasions. There may be times when you want to look your best, but wearing make-up every day is just more stuff for your skin to deal with. Apparently there is now such a thing as non-acnegenic makeup.
Granular facial scrub can make acne worse by agrivating the skin.
Some people believe that taking oral antibiotics for a long time can destroy helpful bacteria in your gut, resulting in more toxins in the body, and more acne.
Take Lactobacillus acidophilus or Dophilus to replenish friendly bacteria in the gut
Give your immune system a boost with echinacea or aloe vera
These include erythromycin, minocycline and tetracycline. It may be up to six months before you see the full effects of these drugs, although there will probably be some difference after about six weeks. Oral antibiotics are effective in about two thirds of cases of moderate-to-severe acne, and can safely be taken for a year or more. I never had much success with these medicines myself, but I know other people have been completely cured after a six month course.
Mild-to-moderate acne can often be controlled using antibiotics such as erythromycin applied directly to the skin. These treatments come in bottles with a special sponge applicator, and should be applied over all affected areas, not just individual spots. This will not, however, have any effect on blackheads or whiteheads. My own acne was controlled for several years using a topical antibiotic, and I found it to be a convenient and simple to use medicine.
Not quite as unpleasant as they sound, treatments such as benzoyl peroxide and tretinoin are effective against blackheads, unlike antibiotics, but cause dryness and irritation. I recently tried using benzoyl peroxide when my acne staged a comeback, but found it dried my skin too much. I know of people who use these medicines with great effect, for a long time, but beware - one guy managed to bleach some of his hair!
Women with acne can be helped by taking Dianette (Diane-35 in some countries). This contains the hormones oestrogen and cyproterone, which counteract the male hormone androgen. Over-production of this hormone is the main cause of excessively greasy skin in women, which can then lead to acne. Dianette is very effective for many women, and can be taken for many years. It is also an effective contraceptive, but must be taken regularly if you want to rely on it for this purpose.
Stress often makes acne worse! Doctors often say "try to reduce stress levels" - which is easier said than done - but you might want to try learning a relaxation technique.
The Sher system claims to be an effective natural method of dealing with all sorts of skin problems.
I sent off for an information pack, and promptly received a large wodge of advertising, and a questionnaire asking about every detail of my skin. I was quite intrigued by all this, and filled in the form.
A few days later I received a personal letter from Helen Sher, together with more advertising and a "personal skin analysis". This is basically a price list, on which is ticked off the things you should use, based on your questionnaire.
I decided not to try the system, purely on the basis of price - it was well beyond my financial reach!
20/10/99 update - I have received several messages from people who actually purchased the Sher system. Some have found it effective, but others have had their acne made worse. Like anything else, it's up to you whether you try it or not, but no guaranteed cures here either, I'm afraid.
31/05/01 update - Another email prompted a thorough search of the message board archives to find more experiences of this product. The overwhelming opinion seems to be that the Sher system does not work for acne. Almost all the people who posted their experiences said that it made their acne worse rather than better.