Sunday, May 31, 2009

Are Home Remedies Safe?

Most people try home remedies for common skin diseases on the belief that these are entirely harmless. Nothing can be far from truth. All home remedies are not safe. Here are a few common ingredients used in home remedies and the reactions they cause on skin:

Milk Products

Milk and its products like curd and cream are used for its cleansing, peeling and moisturizing effect (due to lactic acid). Used on the face, these can produce acne-like eruptions on acne prone skins.


Garlic juice is used as a home remedy to induce hair growth in alopecia areata. Excessive application of garlic juice can cause severe contact irritation and inflammation of the skin, sometimes severe enough to cause permanent scarring.

Gram Flour

Used as a cheaper soap substitute, gram flour can produce allergy on the skin due to contact irritation.

Oatmeal or Fine Bran

Used as moisturizing face wash or as a bath, oatmeal sometimes causes contact irritant dermatitis.

Raw Egg White

Used as a peel off mask and for cleansing oily skin, egg protein causes contact allergic dermatitis, even beyond the area of application.

Juice of Lemon, Orange or Green Apple

Alpha hydroxy acid content of these fruit juices help in superficial peeling of the skin. These quite often cause sensitization of the skin to sun rays. Irritant contact dermatitis is also a common occurrence.

Rose Water

Rose water has mild astringent action and with glycerin is an effective moisturizer and is used as a regular home remedy for dry skin. Rose water alone or with glycerin can cause irritant allergy on the skin. Prolonged use of glycerin or glycerin soaps can actually increase the dryness of skin rather than curing it.


Vegetable oils, almond oils, olive oil, etc are used as moisturizers on face, scalp and body. These home remedies cause acneiform (acne like) eruptions and, at times, boils on the face, body and scalp. Eucalyptus oil, which is used as a skin toner, can produce severe allergic contact dermatitis on the skin.


Honey has moisturizing, mild bleaching and antibacterial properties. Honey causes acneiform eruptions on oily skin. More seriously, honey, if not processed properly, can be contaminated with bacteria including spores of Clostridium botulinum, which causes a serious paralyzing condition. For this reason honey should never be given to children under the age of twelve months and should be properly sterilized before using on open skin wounds.Turmeric Powder
Turmeric paste is used for its antibacterial and peeling effects in acne. In addition to staining clothes, turmeric is a common cause for irritant contact dermatitis.

Kajal and Surma

Used as a highlighter for eyes and eyebrows, these can cause both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis. In addition, systemic mercury and lead poisoning has also been reported on prolonged and continuous applications of these commonly used cosmetics.

Fullers Earth (Multani Mitti)

Used as a face pack for oily skin, contact irritant dermatitis has been reported with Fullers earth.

Guidelines on Using Home Remedies

Having examined the harmful effects of some of the common home remedies, here are a few guidelines on using them:

1)While using home remedies, never apply them directly on the whole face. Apply to a small area first, preferably behind the ears, and wash it off after half an hour. Check the area after 2 days. If there is no redness or irritation, you can use it on the face.

2)The above does not detect the risk of acneiform eruption. To avoid acneiform eruption, avoid rubbing oil based remedies into the skin. Applying topical home remedies should be in the direction of hair growth, not against it.
3)Avoid home remedies on infants, small children and pregnant women.
4)Never use home remedies on extensive areas and for prolonged duration.
5)Do not apply herbal or home remedies on skin wounds or abrasions.
If you notice any worsening of the skin rash or untoward reactions, stop the home remedy immediately and see your doctor. Delaying treatment can damage your skin.


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