Tag Archives: acne

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.

Folk Belief – Kazakhstan, Korea

An active sex life can clear away acne

A Kazakh friend told me that she heard this, asking me if I thought it was true. I told her that I although I am not particularly inclined to believe it, I am not sure, and that I have heard it as well. She told me that her peers, mainly her Kazakh friends, would occasionally refer to it. I told her that in my experience in Korea, many people seemed to believe it, and a lot of adults would mention it as well too. For example, if a girl’s skin mysteriously cleared up, her friends might tease her by asking, “Who is it, who is it?”

Because both of us have international friends, and friends who have been abroad, we are both not completely sure where this belief originated from—whether it was predominantly Asian belief, or whether it was an American belief that our friends have picked up and brought back. It is so interesting to see, that as people’s concepts of nationality and ethnicity begin to blur, the distribution of our folklore consequently gets just as complicated and confusing. Is this a Korean belief that spread to Ukraine?—An American one that spread to both Korea and Kazakhstan?

Apart from its interesting distribution, I also think it shows a rather positive attitude towards sex. It implies that sex is a natural and healthy activity, and the lack of it could result in unhealthy skin. Because this belief is often expressed hand in hand with the belief that stress causes pimples, it also seems to suggest that either sex is a good way to dissipate stress—or that without sex, we are likely to experience stress.

If I were to guess, I would tend to think that this belief is probably more inline with Asian beliefs, than with American beliefs. Although Americans are much more liberal with their bodies, and open about sex—I still feel that I can perceive the Christian notions that sex is a temptation, or a guilty pleasure. Yes, the Americans are open about sex, but it simply means they are open about admitting their carnal desires. In Asia, or at least, in Korea, however, we are not as open about talking about sex, or showing lots of skin, but sex is not usually thought to be a “sin” or a “temptation.” More often, it is thought to be a natural phenomenon, and a rather normal and healthy one, at that. It is simply considered embarrassing and distasteful to talk about it too publicly, is all.