Does Honey Help Control Acne?

Six Steps to Clearer Skin with Raw Honey

Getting rid of acne is simple and can be done several times per day either over a wide area or to individual pimples and blackheads.

  1. Wash the area thoroughly with soap and water to clear all the pores. The raw honey can’t do its job if the pores are clogged.
  2. Dry the affected area. To avoid extra contamination, use a sterile cloth or let it air dry.
  3. Wet your hands and apply a thin layer of raw honey on the affected area. Most store-bought honey is not real honey, so only raw honey will do the job.
  4. Let the raw honey sit for about 5 minutes minimum (but it can be left on much longer) so that it can have enough time to penetrate the skin and kill the bacteria.
  5. Wash off the raw honey and thoroughly dry the area.
  6. Repeat for several days and, if you don’t see improvement, try another type of raw honey.

Note: If you have bee sting allergies, have an epipen ready and try applying small amounts or the raw honey first for only a minute. Then increase the amount and time only if you don’t have an adverse reaction.

Common Acne Treatments

Now, let’s talk more generally about acne treatment and find out why you might want to use raw honey instead of over-the-counter or prescription methods.

Acne is a problem for most teenagers, putting a damper on their social prospects in some cases and causing serious self-esteem concerns when it is an acute condition. But it can also be a problem for many people well into adulthood. In this article, I review over-the-counter, prescription, and, of course, natural raw honey remedies for acne.

People seek varied, expensive, and often risky forms of treatment for acne. In 2016, the worldwide acne treatment industry market reached $4.92 billion in size. Analysts estimate that by 2025 the acne treatment market will reach $7.35 billion. Some non-prescription options include harsh chemical treatments such as benzoyl peroxide, resorcinol, salicylic acid, and even sulfur. By way of prescription, you can take antibiotics, isotretinoin, and even birth control pills for women who have acne due to hormones.

Over-the-Counter Acne Product Side Effects

These treatments can be very effective for acne sufferers. But at what cost? What about the side effects of chemical acne treatments? Are they worth it in the long run if the acne is eliminated? Let’s take a closer look.

Benzoyl Peroxide

Some common side effects of benzoyl peroxide can be stinging, itching, burning, dryness, tingling sensations, flaking, peeling, and redness.


Resorcinol’s side effects border on dangerous, with a slow heart rate, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain, dizziness, weakness, drowsiness, or feeling nervous.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid isn’t much better, with patients complaining of difficulty breathing, fainting, hives, tightness in the throat, and swelling of eyes, tongue, and lips!

Prescription Acne Treatment Side Effects

Just because a doctor prescribes a medication doesn’t mean you won’t experience any unpleasantness. Often, the opposite is true since prescription drugs, by the fact that they are controlled substances, are harsher and less predictable than over-the-counter or natural remedies.


In general, overuse of antibiotics is a real problem for society as a whole. This is because of the fact that bacteria adapt and develop resistance relatively quickly. Over-prescription is why “superbugs” such as MRSA and so-called “flesh-eating bacteria” are becoming a threat to hospitals everywhere. Physicians are dialing back on antibiotic use whenever possible.

Topical antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin can cause dryness, skin irritation, contact dermatitis. Oral antibiotics such as tetracycline, erythromycin, trimethroprim, and cotrimoxazole can cause allergic reactions, photosensitivity, gastrointestinal issues, and thrush.


Isotretinoin (which is a main ingredient in the now discontinued drug Accutane) can result in nosebleeds and itching, drying, cracked skin.

Birth control prescriptions for acne have side effects that include hormonal imbalances, vaginal bleeding, nausea, weight gain, missed periods, decreased libido, and mood changes.

Use Raw Honey to Clear Up Acne

Natural acne treatments are conspicuously missing from the medical literature on the subject. This is because the pharmaceutical industry has strong financial ties to the scientific and medical research establishment that serves to preclude investigations into natural acne remedies. The exercise of investigating natural remedies is apparently being left to the individual to try on their own.

However, what we know about raw honey’s amazing and natural capabilities makes it a safe alternative to try if any of the above acne treatment side effects are not something you want to deal with. Acne is a type of topical wound and infection. So, it follows that raw honey’s antimicrobial properties will have some effect in treating acne. Treatment is simple and can be done several times per day either over a wide area or to individual pimples and blackheads.


As I’ve noted before, raw honey has many antimicrobial properties that are beneficial for treating wounds on the body and for treating colds and coughs.  Acne is a type of topical wound and infection. So, it follows that raw honey’s antimicrobial properties will have some effect in treating acne.

The medical profession has even started using raw honey to treat the surgical wounds of patients who have had heart surgery.  Applying it to sutured surgical incisions reduces the risk of infection. But, raw honey is also good for your heart health in general due to the presence of flavonoids, polyphenols, and other antioxidants.

So, before seeking over-the-counter or prescription acne treatments, give raw honey a try. Depending on your skin type, you might see surprising improvements in other areas of skin health as well!

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