There are many people that suffer from the common skin disease known as acne. It is most common in teenagers, but can also affect many adults. While there are a wide number of conventional remedies out there, more and more people are discovering the benefits of coconut oil for acne.
Acne is caused by blockages of the hair follicles. A variety of underlying conditions that cause such blockages. In adolescents this is usually caused by the hormonal changes associated with puberty. When the follicles are blocked, the bacteria normally present on your face, propionnibacterium acnes, will usually cause inflammation near the sites of the blockage. This results in the redness of the skin and scarring that characterize the disease.
There are a wide variety of commercial products that treat acne. The majority of them are antibiotics used to kill off the bacteria causing the infection. However, there are reasons that you might not want to consider treating acne with such medicines. Many of these medicines contain very harsh chemicals that can damage or dry out your skin. Administration of antibiotics can also lead to the development of new strains of drug resistant bacteria and very other side effects, including destroying healthy bacteria. As a result, many people search for more natural remedies for acne.
How does Coconut Oil Help Acne
Coconut oil for acne has become increasingly popular due to its antimicrobial properties. The two chemicals in coconut oil that are of most interest to those treating acne are lauric acid and capric acid. These are known to have a broad spectrum of anti-microbial activity against virus, bacterial, and fungal infections. Given that acne is largely caused by a bacterial infection, it would make sense that coconut oil could help in its treatment.
A recent study by Chi-Hsien Liu and Hsin-Ying Huang examined the effectiveness of lauric acid specifically in fighting the bacteria known to cause acne.
They tested a total of ten fatty acids for activity against the bacteria, and lauric acid exhibited the most activity in vitro. In fact, lauric acid was 34 times more potent in tests than azelaic acid which is currently an FDA approved ingredient to treat acne. These results suggest that coconut oil, which is made of 50% lauric acid, should be quite effective in treating acne.
The antibacterial properties of coconut oil are not the only reasons to use it in treating acne. Coconut oil has long been used as an all natural skin moisturizer. In addition to lauric acid and capric acid, it contains high levels of Vitamin K and E which are powerful antioxidants to help prevent skin damage. These substances can also prevent the scarring that can occur in severe cases of acne.
Note that coconut oil alone might not be enough for some cases of acne. While coconut oil is an effective antibacterial agent, it is not nearly as potent as pharmaceutical grade remedies. Some very severe cases of acne might not respond to treatment with coconut oil. In such cases, one should seek the professional advice of a dermatologist who could prescribe a much more potent antibiotic to clear the infection.
How to Use Coconut Oil to Treat Acne
If you plan on using coconut oil to treat acne, you want to make sure to get the best grade possible. There are many brands of coconut oil that are processed and might contain a lot of chemicals you do not want on your skin. Look for pure, organic extra virgin coconut oil for the highest quality results. You might not be able to find this in your local grocery store or drug store. If not, there are plenty of online vendors such as Amazon.com that can quickly ship quality coconut oil right to your door.
Coconut oil is quite potent and you do not need to use too much of it to get a good result. In fact, you want to be especially careful not to apply too much to your face. A 12 ounce jar could last you over three months to treat acne if you did not use it for other things such as cooking, a hair conditioner, or moisturizing your entire skin.
Before you apply the coconut oil to the area, you should wash it completely so it is clean and has no debris on it. Take a small bit between your fingers and let the body heat melt the oil so it is easy to apply. You can also melt it in a boiler or microwave if you are using large amounts of it in a whole body application. Once it is melted simply rub it over the infected area in a circular motion. The oil is very greasy; however, if you leave it on for 15 minutes it should be absorbed into the face unless you applied way too much.
One of the biggest concerns with using coconut oil as an acne treatment is that it can clog the pores, and thus potentially make it worse. This generally is not a problem with most areas of the body where people routinely use coconut oil as a common moisturizer. However, many have reported problems when applying coconut oil to the face, experiencing secondary breakouts from the pores getting clogged.
As a result, if treating lesions on the face you are going to want to make sure that you use a very small amount – enough so that the antibacterial agents are in contact with the skin, but not so much that the oil might clog the pores. If uncertain about this, treat a very small area on the face first, and wait to see how it reacts to the treatment prior to using it elsewhere on the face.
Coconut oil for acne is a wonderful natural alternative to conventional allopathic medical treatments. While it might not be appropriate for all cases, such as very severe outbreaks or lesions on the face of a person with very sensitive skin, for most people it represents a viable solution to their acne problem.