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Treat Your Acne with Science, at Home

by Brian Dunning

September 28, 2011

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Donate Amazing new all-natural acne treatment! Just get out your credit card, and...

Oh, wait, no. You don't need a credit card for this. In fact, you can be treating your pimples (assuming you have some) in the next five minutes, and you don't have to buy anything. The application of a little home science is all you need.

Acne is caused, mainly, by the bacterium Propionibacterium acnes. Commercially available acne treatments focus on killing this bacterium with things like benzoyl peroxide, antibiotics, and antibacterial treatments. But there are other things it's also sensitive to, such as ultraviolet light. If you want to give yourself a facial sunburn twice a day, you can probably reasonably expect to avoid acne. But there is one very common, and less destructive, form of energy that also kills P. acnes.


And not very much of it, either. About 120F/50C will do it. A study by the makers of a commercially available device found that applying something hot for about 3 minutes a couple of times a day will make most pimples vanish within a day. But their device is expensive and, for some goofy reason, only works 80 times and then must be thrown away. Who needs to buy heat? It's everywhere. Even in your own home.

I went poking around with an infrared thermometer checking all sorts of objects in the house that get warm, including out-of-the-box ideas like a spoon run under hot tap water or a hot coffee mug, and eventually found the perfect solution. It so happens that the power brick for my laptop hovers right around the perfect temperature, and if I were to find myself in a pimply state, the brick is perfectly convenient to press onto the affected area for three minutes. Next morning, presto, zits gone.

The heat kills the bacteria, and your body's immune system is no longer compelled to react with red inflammation and a mass of white blood cells. Avoid squeezing, which increases the inflammation. Just apply the heat, kill the little bastards, and let your body do its work. Note that this works best with new pimples that have not yet formed a head. It will not work with cystic acne or serious outbreaks.

There is a pretty big range between 120F/50C and a temperature that will burn you, and the hotter you can stand, the worse for the bacteria. 120F/50C is not at all painful, and if you find something hotter it will work too. A small alarm clock and a coffee mug were the other two common items I found that are always available and convenient to use.

Note that is a treatment, not a cure. P. acnes is endemic and will always be on your skin, and if you tend to get acne pimples, that trend will continue if all you do is treat them as they appear. This is a pretty effective way to do it, by most accounts; and costs nothing to try. Just please don't be careless and burn yourself. Enjoy...

by Brian Dunning

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