Acne vulgaris is a common skin condition. More than 85% of teenagers are affected. As well as an increasing number of adult women. I have previously written about the dietary changes that can help to reduce the problem. In this post, I discuss some recent research about pomegranate and acne-causing bacteria.
Acne is a condition that usually affects the skin of the face. The neck and upper back are also commonly affected. These areas of skin have greater numbers of sebaceous glands. Typically, acne occurs when the sebaceous glands make too much sebum. Often a result of hormonal stimulation.
Sebum is a sticky, oily mixture that protects, moisturises and lubricates the skin. If the skin produces too much sebum it can appear oily and the pores become blocked.
Bacteria act upon the clogged sebum. Thus, forming the typical pustules or cysts and inflammation. The bacteria involved are the typical skin bacterial species. Mostly Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus.
As a herbalist I have found that dietary changes can make a profound difference. Sometimes I will also recommend herbal medicines such as tinctures or capsules. Which are taken alongside the diet. However, topical treatments are always a popular treatment method.
Of course, there are some topical treatments already for acne. Yet they often have unwanted side effects. For example, topical use of azelaic acid, a natural acid found in some grains. This compound can block the production of sebum. However, long term use can cause some depigmentation of the skin.
Retinoic acid and salicylic acids are also common strategies for acne treatment. However, these chemical compounds often cause skin irritation or even skin peeling.
We know that pomegranate has anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-bacterial effects. Researchers found that pomegranate peel extract reduced inflammation and swelling caused by bacteria. Propionibacterium acnes and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria were the species studied. What’s more, in the study the pomegranate extract showed no skin irritation.
Pomegranates are high in tannins. Other herbal extracts high in tannins have demonstrated anti-acne effects. But, the authors of this study, report that this was the first to prove the anti-acne effect of pomegranate.
As discussed in my previous post on pomegranates. This fruit is able to inhibit biofilm formation. Biofilms are made by certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. A biofilm helps to protect a colony of bacteria. Helping them to stick together and adhere to surfaces. A good example is the biofilm dental plaque that forms on the surface of teeth.
So, pomegranate is able to break down the biofilm protecting the bacteria that cause acne. It also reduces the swelling and inflammation of acne. All without causing irritation to the skin.
There are plenty of cosmetic products for the skin that contain pomegranate. However, it is simple to make a homemade version of these. For example, why not try a simple homemade pomegranate face mask.
Recipe for a Pomegranate Face Mask
In a blender, blitz a handful of pomegranate seeds to make a smooth paste. You can add this paste to your usual face mask preparation. Or simply add to a tablespoon of greek yoghurt and a teaspoon of honey and blend well. Apply the mask to the face and neck, avoiding the eyes and mouth areas. Leave for 20 mins and then rinse off with lukewarm water.
If you know your skin is sensitive, take care the first time you use any new product. For example, for the first use, leave the mask on for only five minutes, before washing it off.
Have you tried pomegranate in your skincare routine? Why not share your experience in the comments box.