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Acne remedies from different cultures
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Acne remedies from different cultures

By on October 5, 2015

Beginning ancient times, treating acne has always been a challenge – let’s have a look at the most unusual remedies through the ages

The word “acne” first appeared in the sixth century in the writings of Aetius Amidenus, a physician of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, later coming into general medical use, in the nineteenth century.

Treating acne was always a challenging goal, for all ancient cultures of the world.

As strange as it may seem, different mixes of ingredients were used to fight pimples, as history shows us.

Africans have treated skin blemishes for thousands of years with shea butter, a thick fat from the seeds of the West African shea tree.

Back in the times of ancient Egypt, the boy pharaoh Tutankhamen pampered his face with a remedy made of milk, olive oil, sea salt, ostrich eggs and bull’s bile.

The Romans mixed barley flour and butter into a ready-to-apply paste to fight the unpleasant skin disorder.

A fifteen century French recipe for acne cream contained asparagus roots, white lily bulbs, wild anise and goat’s milk.

Ancient texts from different cultures contain countless recipes for creams, but the use of sulfur is probably the only thing that survived until present times.

In the 1700s, acne was thought to be caused by hard drinking and digestive illness. Leeches and lead or mercury creams were prescribed to combat bad skin. Antacids and laxatives were also fashionable remedies, due to the general believe that acne was a symptom of digestive disorder . In the early 1900s, sulfur, arsenic and even a twelve week face exposure to X-rays were commonly used to treat acne.

Things changed for the better in 1939, when Dr. William Page began studying benzoyl peroxide, a mainstay of acne therapy up to today, when people have effective acne fighters at their disposal, including retinoids and antibiotics. In 1949, Ivan DeBlois creates Clearasil, a product that was highly advertised and became very popular in America.

As things moved on, scientists discovered in 1990s that tretinoin, a vitamin A derivative used to fight acne, could as well reverse some of the effects of photo aging (fine wrinkles, freckles and liver spots).

Today, tretinoin is frequently used as the main ingredient in anti-aging products, with incredible results.

Statistically speaking, 8 out of 10 people suffer from this disorder at some point in their lives, as 79% of teenage boys and 89% of teenage girls will both physically and mentally be affected by acne.


About Laura Parvan

Medical professional, blogging passionate, with a high interest in social media impact on health-care information.