Acne is common skin condition that is portrayed by characteristic red pimples on the skin. Acne occurs mainly because of plugged/infected follicles and pores. Our skin contains small holes which are called as pores.
These pores are connected to oil glands beneath them via a canal called “follicle”. The oil glands present beneath the pores secrete sebum (oily substance). After sebum gets produced in the oil glands, it travels to the skin surface via follicles.
Along with sebum, these follicles carry dead skin cells. If these follicles and pores get clogged with dead skin cells, it leads to formation of pimple.
Acne develops after the pimple formation. The hair present in the follicles, along with dead skin cells and sebum all clump together to form a plug. Bacteria starts appearing in the plug. Because of bacteria, there is an immune reaction in the body leading to swelling.
The different type of pimples in acne are :
Acne can be caused by various factors like:
- Hormones – mainly androgens like testosterone which increase oil production. A hormonal increase in any stage of life can cause acne (adolescence, pregnancy, etc.)
- Genetics – some people have strong genetic affiliation to form acne compared to others
- Bacteria – Bacteria is known to form in the clogged follicles of our skin. When a lot of bacteria accumulates in these follicles, they release enzymes that break down sebum and cause inflammation.The broken down sebum may release to nearby areas causing inflammation there too. Normal, healthy skin contains the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes in normal quantity, if the quantity increases, it causes acne.
- Improper make up – Greasy or poor quality make up can cause the formation of acne
Acne can be present in anyone but it mainly affects adolescents. It occurs mainly in teenagers who attain puberty in most cases. Acne can affect adults too. Both male and females are prone to acne, but males are known to have more “intense” breakouts.
Acne occurs mainly on face ,back ,neck chest, shoulders and arms.
What is Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is honey that is native to New Zealand. It is honey produced by bees that feed of the Manuka tree that is found in New Zealand. It is an oil produced from the nectar of the Manuka tree.
Manuka honey is known to have more therapeutic effects than other raw honey. It is known to be the most potent antibacterial honey present. Manuka honey is known to have a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) number representing it.
It is a scale demonstrating the antibacterial potency of the honey. It contains hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal along with other substances that bring about its therapeutic properties.
4 Ways Manuka Honey Heals Acne
When it comes to acne, most people choose to use natural, home remedies compared to allopathic treatments.
Manuka honey acts as one of the most effective home remedies. Manuka honey has various properties which help in reducing acne.
1. Manuka Honey has strong anti-microbial potential
As described above, acne forms when the pores get clogged up with sebum, hair follicles, and bacteria. Thus, preventing bacterial formation is of utmost importance to maintain an acne free skin.
Manuka honey has a wide range of bacteria that it can target. Although most honey contain the anti-microbial property, Manuka honey has the widest range.
This wide spectrum is mainly because of their UMF (unique Manuka factor) which is a factor that has not been understood yet but provides the added benefits to Manuka honey in targeting even antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Manuka honey can target around 60 different types of bacteria. These include gram positive, gram negative, aerobic and anaerobic bacteria. One of the main bacteria causing acne is Propionibacterium acnes.
It is known to cause the inflammation and comedone production in acne. This bacteria is known to be antibiotic resistant.
Studies using Manuka honey as a treatment for acne formed by this bacteria showed that Manuka honey could prevent the growth of this bacterium because of its anti-microbial property.
Hydrogen peroxide is the strongest antimicrobial component present in any type of honey. The difference between Manuka and other honey’s is its potency.
The enzyme glucose oxidase, which is synthesized by the bee and catalase in flower pollen converts glucose to gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide
As mentioned above, hydrogen peroxide is present in all honeys. Hydrogen peroxide activity can be destroyed by the presence of catalase. Manuka honey has other antimicrobial components excluding hydrogen peroxide.
This is what makes Manuka honey more potent than other honeys. These properties are called non-peroxide components. They include methylglyoxal and methyl syringate. The presence of these components allow for anti-microbial functions.
Manuka honey has a pH which ranges from 3.2 – 4.5. This pH can prevent the growth and formation of various bacteria. The acidic pH is enhanced by the presence of gluconic acid ha is present in Manuka honey.
Manuka honey also has a high sugar content and low moisture content. This further prevents the growth of many bacteria.
It is also known to be hygroscopic. This means that it can take moisture out from its environment. This results in the dehydration of bacteria, killing them.
Manuka honey is also preferred because its antimicrobial property is light and heat stable. This property makes it easy to maintain.
What does this mean?
Because bacteria clogging up the skin’s pores are the main reason for acne, Manuka honey and its antibacterial properties can prevent the formation of acne. It can also help heal already formed acne by its antimicrobial properties.
2.Manuka Honey can prevent scarring from acne
Manuka honey can maintain skin pH, soften, hydrate, brighten and soothe the skin.
When acne forms, the epidermal layer of the skin gets disturbed. Thus, even when the acne heals, there are chances for scar formation.
Manuka honey prevents the scars from forming. This is because of its action on epithelial-mesenchymal transition and keratinocyte re-epithelization.
When the skin is injured and there is a destruction of the epithelial layer, there are various stimuli that activate keratinocytes. Keratinocytes are the majority of cells that make up the skin’s layers.
These stimuli then cause the migration of keratinocytes from their deeper layers or from the margins of the wound to form an epithelial barrier. When the superficial wound heals, there is no scarring. Manuka honey is known to provoke the keratinocyte re-epithelization.
In wound healing/ any scar that destroys the epidermis, the main aim is to cover the epidermal layer from the outside environment. The barrier is made when epithelial sheets are moved to the area because of a trigger from injury.
When an injury occurs, inflammatory cytokines get activated and cause the epithelial cells lose their cell-to-cell adhesion power and migrate. They then become mesenchymal cells that are more migratory and invasive in nature.
These mesenchymal cells are multipotent and can turn into any type of cell. Manuka Honey has the potential to stimulate this change because of its actions on cytokines. Because of this property, it can cause the formation of a barrier in the region injured and prevent scar formation.
What does this mean?
Manuka honey can help re-set the skin that is injured during acne formation. This helps heal the scars formed by acne without much damage.
3.Manuka honey is highly anti-oxidant
Manuka honey is known to contain substances such as phenols, flavonoids, vitamin C,etc.,these substances are known anti-oxidants.
Manuka honey contains aqueous and lipophilic (able to work on water and fat molecules) antioxidants and hence can work on any cell-type to be a natural antioxidant.
In a study determining the anti-oxidant potential for Manuka honey, it was discovered that Manuka honey was able to quench the free hydroxyl radical within five minutes. This made it the strongest anti-oxidant of all the other honey.
Manuka honey’s anti-oxidant property is important for treating acne because free radical oxygen damage healthy skin cells by obtaining electrons from them. Anti-oxidants counter act the action of free radicals and also prevent external toxins from entering the skin. This helps the skin remain healthy and free of acne.
What does this mean?
Manuka honey can ease acne by counteracting the damaging effects of harmful toxins and free radicals because of its anti-oxidant property.
4.Manuka honey has anti-inflammatory action
The above mentioned anti-oxidants play a significant role in counteracting inflammation. The flavonoids that are mentioned above are known to suppress pro-inflammatory enzymes, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS).
These substances get triggered during injury to the skin and trigger inflammation in that region.
In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Waikato, it was found that in the presence of Manuka honey, ROS (reactive oxygen species) levels were decreased.
Along with that, anti-inflammatory cytokines were triggered (Interleukin 1 and 10). Not only were anti-inflammatory cytokines triggered, pro-inflammatory cytokines like tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a) were also stimulated.
This study showed that in the presence of Manuka honey, inflammation occurred at a regulated level and prevented it from causing damage.
Acne results in inflamed, injured skin. With the presence of Manuka honey, the inflammation reduces and hence helps in the healing of the acne.
What does this mean?
Because acne involves inflammation of the skin, using Manuka honey can reduce this inflammation because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
How to use Manuka honey for acne?
For topical application, as mentioned above, Manuka honey with UMF 16+ is the preferred choice for treatment. Conduct a patch test prior.
Wash your face and apply manuka honey to your entire face as a face pack. You can also use it as a spot treatment. Leave it on for 20 minutes and then wash with warm water.
For more details about using manuka honey topically for acne read 5 reasons why manuka honey is great for skin.
Conduct a patch test prior to topical application of manuka honey. The effects usually take one to two weeks to show, if your skin has a reaction to this product, stop using it.
To minimize the risk of allergy, use Manuka honey produced nearest to you. In case of allergy to pollen do not use manuka honey.
Do not use processed honey, always use raw, organic Manuka honey and ensure UMF rating is above 16.
A diabetic patient should consult a doctor before the usage of honey and monitor their honey intake. Due to the risk of botulism, children below the age of 5 should avoid honey.
If symptoms get worse, consult a doctor.
Acne is caused by bacteria clumping the skin’s pores. This results in inflammation and scarring.
Manuka honey with its various properties like anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, etc., can target the acne and help relieve them.