Acne is an inflammatory skin condition that causes spots to develop on the skin, usually on the face, back and chest. It has been estimated that it can affect 80% of young people between the age of 12 and 24. For teenagers it can cause considerable distress and loss of confidence. The spots vary from surface blackheads and whiteheads to deep, inflamed, pus-filled pustules and cysts, which can be severe, long-lasting, and even leave permanent facial scarring.
Conventional Medical Treatment for acne
Conventional treatment for acne can prove to be very long-term, and ultimately unsuccessful. If the condition is mild a variety of topical gels and creams, usually containing the chemical benzoyl peroxide, are usually recommended.
Benzoyl peroxide can irritate the skin, and made it more sensitive to sunlight. NHS Choices also says that it should be used sparingly, and can have a bleaching effect, “so avoid getting it on your hair or clothes”. The common side effects mentioned a dry and tense skin, a burning, itching or stinging sensation, some redness and peeling of the skin
Otherwise, conventional medical advice is to keep the skin clean, and for women, to avoid make-up and cosmetics.
When the condition becomes longer-term, or more serious papules and pustules begin to appear, a number of different treatments are used. NHS Choices says that the first treatment is usually a combination of antibiotic tablets, and topical treatments.
Topical retinoids such as Tretinoin and Adapalene are used in gel or cream form, but the advice is to use these ‘sparingly’, to avoid ‘excessive expose to sunlight’, and they are not recommended in pregnancy as they cause birth defects. BHS Choices says that the most common side effects are irritation and stinging
Topical antibiotics are used to kill the bacteria on the skin, and after a time the treatment is stopped “as there is a risk that the bacteria on your face could become resistant to the antibiotics; which can “make your acne worse and cause additional infections”. The common side effects mentioned are, irritation of the skin, redness and burning of the skin, and peeling of the skin
Azelaic acid is used “if the side effects of benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoids are particularly irritating or painful”. It can make the skin sensitive to sunlight, and the common side effects mentioned include burning or stinging skin, itchiness, dry skin and redness of the skin
Antibiotic tablets are used to treat more severe acne. Tetracycline antibiotics are used although they are not safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women who are give erythromycin antibiotics instead. The treatment can last as long as 4 to 6 months. The side effects mentioned by NHS Choices are skin sensitivity to sunlight, and making the oral contraceptive less effective.
Hormonal therapies are recommended for women who suffer from acne during the time of menstruation. This includes the combined oral contraceptive pill, although NHS Choices warn that the progestogen-only pill, or contraceptive implant can sometimes make acne worse.
Co-cyprindiol is described by NHS Choices as a hormonal treatment that can be used for more severe acne that doesn't respond to antibiotics. NHS Choices describes “a small risk that women taking co-cyprindiol may develop breast cancer in later life”. Also, it says that “there is also a very small chance of co-cyprindiol causing a blood clot”. And again, this drug “is not thought to be safe ….. if you are pregnant or breastfeeding”. Other side effects mentioned are bleeding and spotting between your periods, headaches, sore breasts, mood changes, loss of interest in sex, weight gain or weight loss
Isotretinoin (better known as Accutane, or Roaccutane) is also recommended, but NHS Choices states that it can also “cause a wide range of side effects” so it is “only recommended for severe cases of acne that have not responded to other treatments”. Indeed, the side effects are so serious it can only be prescribed by a specially trained GP, or a dermatologist. These side effects include
• inflammation, dryness and cracking of the skin, lips and nostrils
• changes in your blood sugar levels
• inflammation of your eyelids (blepharitis)
• inflammation and irritation of your eyes (conjunctivitis)
• blood in your urine
• inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
• inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
• kidney disease
NHS Choices also says that Isotretinoin will damage an unborn baby by causing birth defects, and that it is not suitable for women who are breastfeeding. It is also thought (but not admitted by NHS Choices) that it can cause mood changes, such as depression, anxiety, aggression and suicidal thoughts.
The Homeopathic Treatment of Acne
Note. Homeopathy does not treat illness or diseases. It treats an individual who has been diagnosed with a particular illness or disease. The distinction is important. Click here to read more about “Illness Diagnosis”.
Homeopathy works by matching the symptoms of illness with the known symptoms of remedies. These short remedy descriptions may guide you to a remedy that can work for you, but consulting with a qualified homeopath will enhance the chances of a good match. When a close match is found the remedy will work successfully, without any side effects, or adverse reactions. The following remedy descriptions have been taken from a variety of sources
Small red pimples on face, cheeks, chin, acne after alcohol, often associated with gastric upsets, thirst and white-coated tongue. Skin has a tendency to crack, warts. Acne lesions burn and itch. Pustules develop into boils. Of has a sad expression, can be fat, fretful, cross and peevish. Cries if looked at, touched or washed. Symptoms are often worse at night, from cold bathing, and in the heat of the sun.
Obstinate cases, with tendency to pustulation, are curable with this remedy.
Acne hard, indicated by a profound prostration, rapid, irritable pulse and severe cases of acne vulgaris. Great emaciation. Skin is dry, scaly, itching. Debilitating night-sweats.
Considered to be one of the chief remedies for acne, especially Acne rosacea. Acne affecting back, shoulders, sides of nose, chin. Itchy. Skin feel in-elastic. Pimples on the face at puberty. Eruptions with a fetid pus. A remedy useful for those who flabby red face. Nervous people, fearing bad news. Pimples on side of nose chin and mouth. Worse for coffee.
Useful remedy for Acne rosacea. Red, hot facial skin, burning. Scarlet rash-like acne, spreading suddenly. Alternate redness and paleness of the skin. Skin dry, hot and swollen, pustules on face. Spread rapidly. Face is red, bluish-red, hot, swollen glands of neck, chin, and shining. Patient is restless and will often talk fast. Acuteness of all senses.
It is useful where the skin is rough, and the acne persistent.
Acne especially in sensitive girls, from the use of cosmetics; especially during summer. Swollen cheeks. Crusty eruptions around mouth and nostrils. Sensitive skin, itching, especially when getting warm, better not scratching. My suffer from urticaria. Pimples may cover entire body. Sadness, with restlessness. Easily offended, takes everything in bad part. Worse in summer.
Acne in anaemic girls, at puberty, often with headache, flatulence, dyspepsia which is relieved by eating. Skin is dark, brownish, yellowish. Red, with prickling after a bath.
A deep, long acting medicine for complaints which come on slowly and reach their final development after long periods. Skin Itching, burning, cold and blue, very sensitive. very sensitive to cold. Patient often weak, emaciated, cold and chilly, but worse from being overheated. Sensitive people generally.
Suppurative tendency of the skin, pustular jagged eruptions with oozing of yellow mucus. Facial pimples. Unhealthy skin with yellowing scabs. Pimples around the ears with a tendency to bleed on scratching. Many small pimples under the hair that bleed when scratched. Lesions that do not heal quickly
Pimples with mottled cheeks and a red nose. The pimples may suppurate, have an offensive odour, and may develop into carbuncles. The skin is moist and itchy. Weakness and flatulence often seen in those requiring this remedy. Symptoms are worse for warmth, and from rich food.
Acne rosacea. Acne in groups, especially on nose, aggravated by heat. Burning pimples with itching. Often for people with dark hair and rigid fibre; weakly, with yellow, sallow complexion.
Painful red pimples and pustules; especially on nose and cheeks. Wilted skin. Dry heat of skin with itching. Painful red pimples and pustules. Face red, without heat. Itching over entire face and forehead. Depression and sadness, even to weeping. Restlessness and solicitude concerning the present and future.
Wet, humid eruptions on face, the lesions itch, worse in cold wet weather. Eruptions. Small boils spreading uniformly across the face, forehead. May be associated with warty eruptions on hands and face. Acne worse around the menstrual period. Worse by cold in any form, better by warmth
Hard pimples with itching, oozing a sticky moisture if scratched. Rough drug skin, hard, persistent dryness of portions of skin. Comedones appear on face, behind ears, on scalp, chest and back. Bleeds easily. Suppurates with every little injury. Often for people who are stout, tendency to obesity, chilly, fair complexion, with tendency to skin problems and constipation. Often with delayed menstrual history. Can be anaemic, timid, indecisive. Symptoms are often worse for warmth, at night, and around menstruation. Better in a dark room
Useful for adolescents with unhealthy skin. Papules prone to suppurate and extend, with prickly pain. Easily bleeds, and can ulcerate. Every little injury suppurates. Cannot bear to be uncovered; wants to be wrapped up warmly. Sticking or pricking in afflicted parts. Great sensitiveness to slightest touch. Often yellowish complexion. Great sensitiveness. The lesions often spread by the formation of small papules around the side of the old lesions. Chilliness, hypersensitiveness, splinter-like pains, craving for sour and strong things are characteristic. Symptoms are improved by damp weather, and aggravated by washing or touch.
This is one of the most commonly used remedies in acne, especially acne simplex, and acne indurata. Affects nervous people. Aggressive teenage onset acne, mainly on forehead, face, neck, chest, shoulders and back. Often begins with burning or prickling large blue-red pimples with yellow pus-filled heads and depressed centres which leave discoloured and depressed scars. Area round the lesions may feel numb. Itchy. The facial skin has a blotchy appearance. The acne often arises after sexual excess. Failure of mental power, loss of memory, melancholia, anaesthesia of skin and mucous membranes. Fidgety. Suicidal thoughts. Itching of skin worse on chest, shoulders, and face. Exaggerated sexual desire in females during menstruation. Horrific dreams and grinding of teeth in sleep. Symptoms are improved by cold weather and aggravated by anxiety, mental stress, warmth, and summer heat.
Often angry mood, love of solitude, great seriousness. Face alternately pale and red. Dry pimples and/or boils on forehead. Skin dry.
Earthy, puffy, dirty-looking face, constantly perspiring skin. A big pimple surrounded by many small pimples. Itchy eruptions, worse from the warmth of bed. Eruptions in private parts, buttocks. Skin and mucus membranes affected at the same time. Yellowing brown or greenish pus from Pustular acne, often streaked with blood. Worse from extremes of temperature, night, dampness, perspiration.
This remedy is characterised by severe acne in those people with oily, dirty skin suffering from anxiety and constipation. The tongue may appear to be mapped and the lips may be dry and cracked. Acne occurs predominantly on the face, back, and at the hairline. Symptoms are better in the open air and from cool bathing and worse from heat, bread and fatty foods.
Anxious about complaints, sadness and despondency, fear of death. Face yellow, sunken eyes. Complexion dark yellow, brownish. Pimples on forehead and temples. Black pores.
Acne associated with excessive use of alcohol, food or stimulants, particularly where the skin symptoms are associated with gastrointestinal complaints. Skin red and blotchy. Body burning, hot, red, swollen, especially face, but cannot move or uncover without feeling chilly. Easily chilled, will avoid open air. Often thin, spare, quick, active, and nervous. Can be very irritable, even malicious. Does not want to be touched. Symptoms are aggravated by mental exertion or anger, cheese and fatty or spicy foods.
Acne rosacea. Pale, sickly look. Skin is yellow, dirty, greasy. Roughness of knuckles. Pimples with black points in centre. Small but numerous pustules, itching; after scratching vesicles arise. Acne is worse during menstruation, from fats, sugar, coffee, meat.
Often a remedy required by adolescents who are thirstless, have menstrual disorders, circulatory problems, allergies or ear, nose or throat disorders. The acne may be itchy, with symptoms worse for heat, rich, starchy or fatty foods or ice-cream.
Acne rosacea with red pimply rashes, small eruptions with itching, burning, swelling, and redness. Excessive itching with burning, as if skin on fire. Painful pimples. Acne with scars that take long time to heal. Acneassociated with itchy dermatitis of skin. Appears to get worse after getting up in the morning. Better in open air, or for a hot bath.
Hypochondria, dejection, low spirits, joyless, with a feeling of general exhaustion. Face is pale, with lusterless eyes encircled by blue ring. Black pores on nose and face.
A useful remedy in acne, especially in women with scanty menses and irregular circulation of blood. For other remedies for women, see Calcarea carbonica, and Aurum muriaticum natronatrum.
Acne that develops during pregnancy, or after the birth of their child. The acne is often associated with menstrual disorders. The lesions are often yellow tinged pimples appearing on the face and especially on the chin. The condition is improved after menstruation, and worse before menstruation. Worse from breastfeeding.
Acne with hard, deep pimples mainly on the cheeks and forehead, that fail to show pus, or come to a head. They can leave a pitted scar. Lymph glands may be swollen, and the sufferer may have a history of boils, and various forms of pathology around their nails.
A widely used remedy for Acne, especially if chronic. The skin is usually pale, dry, rough, hard dirty looking. The acne is associated with comedones and constipation. It is aggravated by water. Face may generate heat, and spotted with red marks, brith red lips. Black pores. Intense itching from warmth, in the evening.
People needing Thuja may express feeling of shame about their acne. Oily skin, dilated pores. Pimples mainly on their face, especially on the forehead, upper lip, nose and chin. Face glowing red, burning, with a fine network of blood vessels. Flushes of heat, sweating. All eruptions burn violently after cold washing. Itching, better scratching, but then. The skin symptoms better by touch, worse during menstruation.
Acne simplex Takes cold easily. Fits of violent temper. Craves cold milk, or sweets. Skin dry, harsh, sensitive, easily tanned; itching in cool air. Chilly. Yet wants fresh air. Flushes of heat.
The Treatment of Scar Tissue after Acne
This is not a remedy for acne, but in low potency it is known to be an effective remedy for repairing scar tissue that may result from acne.
Randomised Controlled Tests (RCTs)
The evidence for homeopathy. Please note that RCTs are the third, and decidedly the least important type of evidence supporting Homeopathy as a medical therapy.
To my knowledge there have been no RCT trials done on the homeopathic treatment of Acne.
The information on this webpage represents the views and opinion of the author, based on his clinical experience, and the traditions of Homeopathy. This material is provided for information only, and should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Always consult with a suitably qualified and registered Homeopath, or with a medical doctor for advice about the treatment they offer, especially in serious or life threatening medical conditions, or if you are already taking medical drugs.’