Natural acne remedies have begun to receive greater amounts of spotlight in the battle to find suitable treatments for acne. One of the more popular natural remedies employs the use of lemon juice. Lemon juice is a favorable treatment for a number of reasons. For one, it is widely and inexpensively available. Further, lemon juice has shown to improve the appearance of post-acne scars. Not many over-the-counter products are able to kill two birds with one stone – treat existing acne lesions while minimizing the appearance of scars. Although many report favorable results with lemon juice, it is not a good fit for all. Some with sensitive skin may experience an acne breakout as a result of utilizing the applying the acidic substance on their skin. To fully understand whether or not you stand to gain from the lemon juice acne treatment, we have put this post together dissecting both the pros and cons of this course of treatment.
Likely the most advantageous characteristic of lemon juice lies in the fact that it is a natural disinfectant. When applied topically to the skin, lemon juice can help eradicate p. acnes bacteria that help form more severe, inflamed acne lesions. It is important to remember that bacteria is not always responsible for the development of acne. Although lemon juice may help eliminate a good portion of these bacteria, acne can still form as a result of abnormal desquamation and keratinization. Fortunately, lemon juice can also help in this department.
As you may recall from your introductory chemistry course, lemon juice is a weak acid. It can help expedite the desquamation process by acting as a skin peel. The citric acid that constitutes a portion of lemon juice helps the skin shed dead cells that could potentially clog pores. While all of this sounds great, there are some areas for concern. For one, lemon juice falls between 2 and 3 on the pH scale. The outermost layer of the skin, known as the stratum corenum or “acid mantle” requires a slightly acidic pH to act as an effective barrier between your body and the outside world. When this pH falls within an unacceptable range, you become vulnerable. Applying lemon juice to your face will disrupt the pH balance necessitated by the acid mantle, and may consequently leave you at a greater risk for acne. Although the difference in pH between the stratum corneum and lemon juice may seem negligible, you have to consider that the pH scale works in multiples of ten. A pH of 3 is ten times more acidic than a pH of 2.
Anyone who has experimented with using lemon juice knows that it leaves your skin with a “tight” and dry feeling. This is because lemon juice is an astringent – it strips oils right off your face. While those of you with oily skin might find this appealing, it is more disastrous than anything else. When you strip your skin of that protective barrier that holds moisture in, you encourage it to compensate by producing more sebum. This phenomenon is known as reactive seborrhea. Anyone who has oily skin (or a combination of oily and acne-prone skin) will tell you that it is a hassle to deal with. This problem can be mitigated through the use of moisturizer shortly after the topical application of lemon juice. Moisturizer, in addition to alleviating that “tight” feeling, should help reduce redness and other irritation. Be sure to use a gentle, non-comedogenic moisturizer, especially since your skin is in a more vulnerable state. If you plan to go outside shortly following the lemon juice acne treatment, be sure to apply sunscreen to your face. You can get a very severe sun burn by failing to do so.
Those that complete a course of Accutane or a treatment plan with topical retnoids often complain of hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation refers to darkened areas of the skin, and is post-symptom of acne. There are a number of treatments available that address this problem, from skin bleaching kits to expensive surgical treatments. Fortunately, many have had success with lemon juice in treating reddened skin areas. Again, if you intend to use lemon juice for such purposes, take the necessary precautions. Use moisturizer and sunscreen as needed. It may take some time to achieve a full skin lightening effect, so it is important to be patient. Many hyperpigmentation marks fade without any sort of treatment as time goes on. The typical healing time period can extend beyond six months.
Finally, the exfoliating benefits which we described earlier can help minimize the appearance of less severe acne scarring. However, don’t expect miracles and be ready to dedicate yourself to using lemon juice on a regular basis. Few professional treatments can absolutely eliminate the appearance of scars, however, they can effectively reduce their bothersome appearance. Do not try to increase the exfoliating properties of lemon juice by using it excessively or in conjunction with over-the-counter exfoliators. This can be tremendously irritating to your skin and will only exacerbate your acne.
As far as ingesting lemon juice for treating acne goes, you will likely not see a noticeable benefit. Drinking lemon juice undiluted can potentially be dangerous to your health. Its acidic quality could compromise your tooth enamel, which could leave you susceptible to dental caries. Stick to topical applications for maximum benefit and to avoid undue risk.
Lemon juice can be a double edged sword when it comes to treating acne. It has highly beneficial disinfectant and exfoliant properties, however falters when it comes to helping maintain the skin’s delicate pH balance and subsequently its overall health. If you are considering incorporating lemon juice into your skin care regimen, consider doing so gradually. If you notice any adverse reactions, stop using it immediately. If you have any reason to believe that the use of lemon juice may interfere with the efficacy of your existing treatment, it is strongly recommended you consult your dermatologist. He or she should help guide you to the right decision.