The spice turmeric has long been considered by many cultures to have medicinal as well as cooking uses — it’s a primary spice in curry.

For hundreds of years, it’s been touted for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-tumor effects.

According to a 2016 study, early evidence indicates that turmeric/curcumin products and supplements, both oral and topical, may provide therapeutic benefits for skin health. Curcumin is a primary component of turmeric.

A contributing cause of acne is bacteria known as Propionibacterium acnes, the most abundant bacteria on human skin.

Often, to treat severe acne, antibiotics such as erythromycin and clindamycin — in combination with azelaic acid — are prescribed. However, as drug resistance grows, researchers continually test new antimicrobial agents.

One possibility that’s been a focus of research is curcumin. A 2013 article indicates that curcumin has antibacterial activity against a number of bacteria — including P. acnes — when combined with lauric acid.

Several preliminary studies confirm that the curcumin in turmeric may decrease inflammation humans, and, according to a 2017 article, “research suggests that curcumin can help in the management of oxidative and inflammatory conditions.”

Although there’s some indication that turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties might also be effective on acne, there haven’t been any large clinical trials on its ability to help improve or cure acne.

Proponents of turmeric for treating acne suggest both oral and topical applications. Oral consumption typically follows three methods:

  • cooking with turmeric as a flavor enhancing spice
  • drinking a turmeric tea
  • taking a turmeric supplement

Take note that curcumin can interact with some medications and isn’t recommended for people with gallbladder disease. Talk with your doctor before adding turmeric to your acne treatment plan.

If you choose to use turmeric topically — such as in a face mask — talk with your dermatologist about the risks of an allergic reaction to curcumin. Choose a commercial product made from turmeric. Also discuss the potential for developing a sensitivity to the spice over time.

An itchy red rash caused by direct contact with an allergen or irritant is known as contact dermatitis. Although the rash can be quite uncomfortable, contact dermatitis isn’t contagious or life-threatening.

According to a 2015 review, 11 separate studies demonstrate that the curcumin in turmeric is an allergen and can cause contact dermatitis. Test for allergy by putting a dime size area of the product on your forearm. If you have no reaction in 24 hours, it’s unlikely you’ll have an allergic reaction.

Turmeric has a deep yellow color that gives curry powder its distinctive hue. In fact, one of turmeric’s original uses was for dying fabrics.

Along with cloth, turmeric can stain other things, such as:

  • your skin
  • your nails
  • porcelain, such as your sink and bathtub
  • countertops, especially marble
  • dishes

Although you can eventually get the stain out of most items, it might take a few scrubbings.

Turmeric has a reputation for treating a number of conditions, including acne.

Although there are some indications that the curcumin in turmeric might be an effective treatment for acne, there’s no current proof. There is proof, however, that it has the capacity to irritate and stain skin.

To completely understand turmeric’s effectiveness in dermatology, further studies are needed.

If you’re considering adding turmeric to your acne treatment, talk to a dermatologist. They can give you insight for your particular situation. They can also recommend treatment options for the best and most consistent results.