Why do people recommend neem oil for acne treatment? I think part of the reason is that in the western world, when people hear neem, they think neem oil.
You can use neem oil for acne treatment, but you can also use neem leaf, leaf extracts and neem powder.
To understand why and how neem oil and neem products affect acne, it helps to understand acne itself.
There are many myths about what causes acne. Things like stress, lack of cleanliness, wrong food etc. may all make existing acne worse, but they are not the root cause for developing acne.
There are also many things about acne that are not fully understood yet. For example nobody knows why some teenagers develop much more severe forms of acne than others. There are also areas where specialists disagree, for example the role that food plays.
Here is what we know for sure:
Acne is a result of clogged oil glands. Acne is the inflammation of the oil glands just under the skin. Acne occurs when the pores of the skin clog up with too much oil and dead skin cells and become infected.
Pimples, whiteheads or blackheads, the reason is always the same. Pores of the skin have become clogged.
The build up of oil can cause irritation and redness, and bacteria can multiply rapidly. The bacteria cause infection. In bad cases this can lead to infected cysts (the big lumps under the skin) and even scarring.
The important points to remember here: too much oil and bacterial infection.
The main underlying reason for acne is hormonal imbalance. Hormones make the oil glands produce too much oil. This hormonal imbalance is the reason that so many teenagers develop acne. Puberty is a time where the hormone metabolism undergoes major changes.
Boys are more prone to severe acne than girls, because boys have higher levels of hormones. Women are more likely to suffer from ongoing acne, since the female hormone metabolism is more prone to imbalances.
Neem oil does not fix this hormonal imbalance!
The bacteria that cause the infection live on our skin naturally. Usually the bacteria don't cause any problems. Why in some people those bacteria explode and overgrow is not fully understood.
To control the harmful bacteria is one of the goals of successful acne treatment.
Research studies have shown that all components of the neem tree are strongly anti-bacterial. And not just that, neem also contains aspirin like substances that reduce redness and inflammation. These two qualities are the main reasons for the beneficial effect of neem and neem oil for acne.
The other goal is to balance the oil levels of the skin.
This is where the use of neem oil for acne can backfire. No, not because neem oil is oily, but because most people use neem oil in the form of neem soap. Soap can cause problems. More about this later.
Yes, you can use neem and neem oil for acne treatment, but don't expect miracles. Just switching to any old neem soap, neem lotion or swallowing a few neem capsules is not a magical quick fix.
(Mind you, some people do experience astounding results that make it seem like magic...)
The reason that neem is useful to treat acne is that, as research studies have shown, it effectively controls the harmful bacteria that cause the infection. It also reduces the inflammation that causes the redness, swelling and tenderness.
Neem contains active ingredients that are very similar to the ingredients in common medical acne treatment products. You may have heard of acne products containing "salicylic acid". Well, that's aspirin, and as I mentioned above, neem also contains aspirin like substances.
However, even when using neem products you need to use them like you would use conventional acne treatments. You need to find the right product, and you need to follow a skin care regime that's matched to your particular skin type and the severity of your acne.
More about all this on the next page: Neem Soap and Acne