Acne is a skin condition that causes blemishes or bumps like pimples or pustules to appear on your skin. These bumps are irritated and inflamed hair follicles. Acne occurs most commonly on your face, back, neck, or shoulders. Acne occurs when dead skin cells, oil (sebum), and bacteria clog your pores. It can affect people of any age, but is most common during puberty. It can also be caused by other factors, including:

  • medical conditions
  • stress
  • medications
  • hormonal changes
  • excessive sweating
  • skin or hair products
  • poor hygiene

Not all acne can be prevented, but some preventative measures include:

  • washing your skin regularly, especially after sweating
  • using water-based makeup rather than oil-based
  • avoiding oily lotions on skin that is prone to acne
  • stopping medications that are causing acne
  • using natural remedies, such as garlic

Garlic has been used medicinally for centuries. A few research studies have shown that garlic can be useful for some medical conditions.

Garlic has antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antiseptic properties from allicin. Allicin helps to kill the bacteria causing acne. It also helps to reduce swelling and inflammation, and improve blood circulation. These beneficial effects allow the skin to receive more nutrients. Garlic also has thiosulfinates, which can act as an antimicrobial. Many believe that with regular use, it clears the skin.

Garlic also contains other vitamins and minerals that are believed to combat acne, like vitamin C, vitamin B-6, selenium, copper, and zinc (used to control oily substances). Garlic has also been shown to have potential effects on several medical conditions like cancer, psoriasis, and wound healing. Some studies have shown that garlic has anti-inflammatory properties. These properties are believed to help reduce the inflammation of acne.

One study that looked at garlic to determine its effectiveness for skin conditions used garlic prepared in four ways:

  • raw garlic juice
  • heated garlic juice
  • dehydrated garlic powder
  • aged garlic extract

Those who believe in the use of garlic for treating acne have various recipes for their treatments.

Garlic cloves for topical use

NOTE: Remove garlic from skin immediately if it begins to burn or itch

  • Puree 3 to 4 cloves of garlic
  • apply directly to the affected area
  • leave it on for a few minutes
  • rinse with water
  • gently dry

Ingesting garlic cloves

  • mince garlic cloves
  • add to meals during preparation as desired

Garlic and water

If your skin is even slightly sensitive to garlic applied topically, you’ll want to dilute it with water.

  • Mince 2 fresh garlic cloves
  • Mix garlic with 1 tablespoon of tap or rose water
  • place mixture on the affected areas
  • leave on for a few minutes
  • rinse with water
  • gently dry

Raw garlic juice

  • mash 5 grated garlic cloves
  • let mashed cloves sit for 10 minutes
  • use a thin cloth to squeeze the juice from the mashed cloves
  • dab juice on the affected areas
  • let it sit for about 10 minutes
  • rinse with water

Yogurt and garlic topical treatment

This treatment will exfoliate your skin and help remove dead skin cells blocking your pores

  • mix 4 pureed cloves of garlic with 1 tablespoon of yogurt
  • apply mixture to clean and dry skin
  • massage into skin and leave on for a few minutes
  • rinse with water

Yogurt and garlic edible or topical treatment

  • mix 3 to 4 pureed cloves of garlic with 2 tablespoons of yogurt and ½ teaspoon of honey
  • eat or apply as a mask to the affected areas
  • leave mask on for 20 minutes
  • rinse with water

Garlic and manuka honey topical treatment

  • make garlic juice using 3 to 4 garlic cloves
  • mix juice with 1 teaspoon of manuka honey and, if desired, ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • apply to affected area and leave on for 20 minutes
  • rinse with water

Garlic and aloe vera topical treatment

  • mix 2 to 3 cloves of crushed garlic with ½ cup of water
  • let mixture sit for 5 minutes
  • mix in 1 teaspoon of aloe vera gel
  • apply mixture to affected areas and leave on until dry
  • rinse with water

Each of these procedures should be repeated regularly or daily to see results.

Pimples are one of the results of acne. Garlic may help pimples in the same way it helps acne.

Garlic with apple cider vinegar for pimples

  • mix 1 spoonful of apple cider vinegar with 1 spoonful of water
  • mash 5 grated cloves and let sit for 10 minutes
  • use a thin cloth to squeeze the juice from the mashed cloves
  • mix garlic juice with the vinegar and water
  • apply by dabbing with a swab directly onto pimples
  • let it sit for about 10 minutes
  • rinse with water

Using garlic to help treat your acne poses minor risks. One study found potential side effects to using garlic topically. These included:

  • skin irritation or rash
  • allergic reactions
  • zosteriform dermatitis (clusters of skin lesions)
  • contact urticaria (swelling and redness of the skin)
  • blisters

While there isn’t enough scientific proof to say for sure, many swear by the use of garlic for treating acne. Most of the treatments are topical or ingestible, so you should discuss them with your doctor before using. This is especially true if your doctor has prescribed lotions or other topical treatments. Combing your doctor’s treatment with natural remedies may lessen the effectiveness of both or increase your chance of a rash or other negative interaction.