Old Acne Remedies

Sat, Jun 14, 2008

Acne Facts & Stories, Stories

For those of you who are squeamish or are dog lovers, skip to the next paragraph.  Seventeenth-Century Britons were as concerned about acne as we are today.  According to an old manuscript of home remedies that was recently discovered, people with acne were advised to cut the heads off two puppies, hang them up by their heels to bleed, collect the blood, mix the blood with white wine, and apply the concoction to the face.  Gross!  Don’t try it; it won’t work!

At the beginning of the 20th century, most of the acne treatments involved the correction of intestinal disorders such as indigestion and constipation  Recommended anti-acne regimens included low-fat and low-sugar diets.  Sound familiar?  Excessive sweating was discouraged, and – get this – some doctors recommended that erotic preoccupation be avoided (without a doubt, a difficult prescription to follow).

Active surgical treatment at that time included opening up the and draining acne lesions (they’re the zits), vigorous scrubbing, steaming, and washing with soap and hot water.  All of this was followed by the application of foul-smelling chemicals including sulfur.  For difficult-to-manage acne in middle-aged women, arsenic – both applied to the skin and injected into it – was sometimes used!  Wow!

In the middle of the 20th century, there would be teenagers that would go back to school with red, scaly faces the day after they visited their dermatologists.  They were subjected to restricted diets, carbon dioxide slush, superficial X-ray treatments, and ultraviolet light exposures, only to be followed by self-applied rigorous cleansings, scrubs, and chemical peeling agents.  Ugh, no wonder their faces looked like red apples!  It seems barbaric today, but that’s all they had to treat acne at that time.  Believe me, people who have acne today are much better off today!

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