(Originally published for The Dragontree)
In light of the risks of suppressing skin problems, which I discussed in Skin: The Final Frontier, I present to you some healthy alternatives to steroid creams and topical antibiotics.
Some people swear by baking soda as a treatment for acne, but the reviews are mixed. It can be highly drying, so if you use it, it’s recommended to keep the treatment brief – like 30 seconds of baking soda paste applied to pimples – and then wash off and apply an appropriate toner to restore your skin’s optimal pH.
Although it can be applied undiluted to most people’s skin, there’s rarely a need to use it in such a concentrated way. I find that essential oils are often overused. Most of the studies on lavender oil have utilized it in concentrations ranging from 0.5% to 10%. You can dilute it in a bit of olive oil, coconut oil, water, or whatever else you wish.
Ching Wan Hung also works well for about half the rashes I’ve prescribed it for, and it’s usually helpful for bug bites and stings, too. It smells strongly of sesame oil, so that part can take a bit of getting used to, but if you use it immediately after getting a burn, you’ll be sold. I’ve used it on all kinds of burns, from steam to fire, to chemicals, to sunburns, to radiation burns. I had a patient with severe skin damage from radiation treatments for breast cancer, and after applying this ointment for a couple months, the skin was completely back to normal.
This is the one item on this list that’s not widely available in stores, but it’s easy to find online, or we can order it for you at The Dragontree.
First, you can use diluted ACV on the skin for acne, or just as a good skin toner, acid exfoliant, and restorer of the skin’s optimal pH. Mix one part ACV with 2 to 3 parts water or tea (chamomile or rooibos teas are good), and apply to the face with a cotton ball. You don’t need to wash it off unless it causes irritation. I recommend for facial application that you start with a rather weak ACV solution and only work up to a less diluted mixture if your skin can handle it.
The same can be applied to eczema, yeast infections, fungal skin infections, and other rashes. Again, while there may be a little tingling, we don’t want burning. Vinegar is a strong acid and it can harm the skin if used too much or too concentrated.
Apple cider vinegar is also great for the hair and scalp. Most cases of dandruff will benefit or resolve completely with several applications of ACV. Mix 1 part ACV with 2 or 3 parts water. It’s best to put it in a squeeze bottle with a pointed tip so that it can be squirted directly onto the scalp. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse. It can be used in the same dilution as a hair rinse to remove the residue of hair care products.
At the more hardcore end of the spectrum, I know people who have used ACV undiluted to remove moles, warts, and skin tags. In these cases, we’re relying on its strength as an acid, and there is risk of collateral skin burns, so please proceed with caution and proper guidance in this arena.
Natural remedies aren’t always better or safer than the alternatives, but I believe the items on this list are pretty special. And I believe they can provide relief and/or promote healing without being suppressive. Give them a try and share your experience with us in the comments section. Have other home remedies for skin that you love? We want to hear about those, too!
Dr. Peter Borten