Skin blemishes, also known as spots or scars, are the common result of acne outbreaks. For some people, skin blemishes are difficult to get rid of, detract from your physical appearance and over time can lead to the development of a poor self-image. Topical treatments for treating skin blemishes can be expensive. Honey, a low-cost home treatment for skin blemishes, can be a potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory.
Before the invention of over-the-counter and pharmaceutical anti-bacterial skin treatments, honey was used extensively around the world for wound healing and minimizing the appearance of scars. Known as one of Cleopatra’s beauty secrets, honey is still used as an at-home treatment.
Research from the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology shows that honey can be used to dress wounds and burns due to its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. In a study comparing a popular antibacterial drug and honey for wound healing, Indian researchers concluded that the beneficial effects of honey decreased healing time and reduced scarring in first- and second-degree burn patients.
Honey contains the sugars glucose and fructose, natural alpha-hydroxy acids that exfoliate the skin. Natural exfoliants reduce the appearance of skin blemishes and work to leave the skin smooth and even in tone. When you wash the honey off your skin, a small amount remains in the pores. As a result, the sugars in the honey attract water from the air, which keeps your skin hydrated. Professor Peter Molan, a scientist from the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, claims that all honey contains hydrogen peroxide -- an anti-microbial -- at varying concentrations. Daily use not only helps to minimize the appearance of blemishes, but also can prevent the recurrence of acne lesions, the cause of skin blemishes.
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There are many ways to use honey for treating skin blemishes. Some home recipes use honey combined with essential oils, lemon juice or pureed fruit. You may also wish to use honey alone. In order for treatment to be effective, apply only a thin layer and leave the honey on the skin for a minimum of 15 minutes. A warm wash cloth can be used to remove the honey. To use honey as a spot treatment, apply a small dab of honey on the blemish and cover it with gauze or a small bandage before bed; the anti-inflammatory effects of the honey should reduce the blemish overnight. Skin blemishes do not always appear on the face. To treat blemishes located on the chest or back, add a cup of honey to a warm bath.
When shopping for honey, look for natural raw honey with no additives, as processed honey with additives may irritate the skin. Before using the honey, test your skin for sensitivity by performing a patch test along your jawline. Wash the honey off and make note of any itching or redness. Do not use honey as a blemish treatment if you notice skin irritation.
Olivia Rose, ND, is a naturopathic doctor and personal trainer who has been writing professionally since 2007. Her work appears in local publications such as "SNAP." She also has a private practice in Toronto. Rose obtained her Bachelor of Science in nutritional and nutraceutical sciences from the University of Guelph.