Folk Medicine: Acne Remedy

The informant heard the following folk medicine remedy for acne from her father.

The concept is that the person with acne is supposed to cut a chunk from an aloe plant and smear it on his or her face: “I used to have really bad acne [laughter] so have a li’l so when he was younger and so my [her father’s] sister—his [her father’s] mother would tell them to put aloe vera, like the plant, all over their faces and stuff, ‘cause it’s s’posed to be like, healing for cuts and stuff like that, g—and inflammation, so’e—sh—my aunt especially would do that, so, that’s . . .”

The informant says she has never tried it “cause [she doesn’t] own an aloe vera plant, but . . . [laughter]”

However, she believes that the remedy would work: “I think it’s a good idea, I mean, it seems like it makes sense—things I’ve seen on TV and stuff, seems like—natural remedy thing would work, so, yeah.”

Acne is caused by the buildup of dirt and oil in the pores, so it seems unlikely that this remedy would work and more likely that it would just further clog the pores with plant gunk. A pimple is not a wound like a cut to be soothed, and although a pimple stinging from having been scratched open might feel better, it probably wouldn’t go away any faster. Acne is associated with puberty, which is a liminal stage and might therefore be irritating to the sufferer as a signal that he or she is not quite one thing and not quite another.