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Does Manuka Honey Help Acne and Scars?

A Manuka bush in New Zealand.
A close up of acne.
Manuka honey.
Acne can leave behind scars and marks.
Scar tissue.
Manuka honey can help prevent and fade acne and acne scars.
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  • Written By: Synthia L. Rose
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Images By: Pasi Välkkynen, Olavs, n/a, Budimir Jevtic, n/a, Monticellllo
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2014
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Medical research supports claims that manuka honey can help prevent and fade scars as well as treat acne due to its ability to kill fungi and microorganisms. It is a natural honey made in New Zealand by bees that pollinate and consume flowers of the manuka bush. This is the same bush that supplies tea tree oil, a strong antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal essential oil. Honey linked to this bush retains some of these same protective properties.

No refinement is done to manuka honey, so it is sold raw, retaining its biological activity and occasional residue from bees and blooms. Different strengths of honey are available, with the exact strength usually noted on the label. Side effects can include stinging and allergic reactions, mainly for those sensitive to bees.

Acne is caused by bacteria growing in clogged pores of the skin. This honey can not only kill these germs, but may be able to penetrate beyond the top layer of skin, treating the root of the infection. This helps clear pores and reduces inflammation and itching. Peroxide in the honey is only one component that fights acne. Its extreme acidity dries the pus out of blackheads and pimples, completely dehydrating them after several treatments.

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This honey also fights acne with its low water content, generally making it impossible for germs to survive since most microbes need water to thrive. The sugar content absorbs and removes the water. Beyond its topical application, consuming the honey as a food can bolster immunity, which enables the user to fight off infections, including acne.

For scars, holistic physicians often apply manuka honey to bandages that are wrapped around fresh wounds or old scars. The same properties that treat acne work well to heal scar tissue. The hydrogen peroxide in the honey lightens the scar by bleaching it, and using the honey on a wound can prevent it from creating a dark scar because it helps the wound close more quickly. This is particularly helpful for diabetics, whose wounds tend to take longer to heal.

Scars are generally created when the body sends massive amounts of collagen to the skin’s surface for recovery after trauma. The collagen builds up over time, creating raised and dark scars. Generally, the belief is that the slower the healing, the darker the scar. Eating manuka honey may encourage wounds of all types to heal faster.

Users often sweeten teas, toast, or biscuits with the honey. It is rarely used in recipes that require cooking, because the heating would destroy some of the honey's medicinal power. In addition to acne and scars, this substance can purportedly treat herpes and staph infections, including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

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Discuss this Article

anon934338
Post 8

All these comments are made by unscrupulous companies to boost their sales of so-called manuka honey. I spent over $1,500 to treat a minor leg ulcer. I applied manuka honey to it every day for over two years and there was no healing,. They claim manuka honey heals leg ulcers and other scars, but it is not true.

burcidi
Post 6
@indigomoth-- I agree with you. The higher the UMF ("unique manuka factor", a.k.a. antibacterial properties), the better the product works on acne.

I didn't know this when I first started using manuka healing honey and used a very low UMF one. It did work a little bit but not as much as I wanted it to. I almost gave up on manuka as a treatment when I found out that I need a higher UMF honey.

Right now, I'm using UMF 20 and it works much better than the other one. I think 20 is like the highest it goes but I think manuka honey with a UMF of at least 16 is good too.

stoneMason
Post 5

@alisha-- I've been using manuka honey for the past three weeks for acne, as well as scarring. My acne has definitely gotten better. I've had less breakouts and my face isn't as red. With the scarring, I think it's too early to see a difference. I do see an improvement with my skin's pigmentation but not really with the old acne scars yet.

I think for scars, manuka will take a lot longer to work. I wouldn't expect to see such a change until after a couple of months. How you use the manuka might be important too. I've heard that manuka honey is most effective for acne and scarring when used as a mask. So that's what I do. I apply manuka honey as a mask for about thirty minutes every other day.

discographer
Post 4

I don't have acne right now but I still have acne stars from about five years ago. I went through a really bad phase with my skin for a while. I think it was due to hormonal changes because after having tried all sorts of treatments, it went away on its own after a couple of years.

But for some reason the scars are still there. I've tried various face creams with ingredients like vitamin E that is supposed to fade scars. But it's not working.

I heard about manuka honey products recently from my friend who uses it for her acne. Has anyone used manuka for acne scars? Did it work and if so, how long did it take for the scars to completely disappear?

irontoenail
Post 3

@indigomoth - Actually, while manuka is closely related and can be used to produce tea tree oil, the plant that usually produces it is a native of Australia, not New Zealand. It's of the Melaleuca family and is generally known as a tea tree or a paperbark.

Manuka is also called tea tree sometimes, because the leaves were once used for tea, but it isn't used commercially to make tea tree oil as far as I know.

indigomoth
Post 2

@Iluviaporos - Actually there haven't been enough studies to really show that manuka has benefits for people, although it's pretty likely that it does. And you can get guaranteed manuka treated bandages and things, although they are mostly available to hospitals.

One of my friends did an article on a woman who was treating patients in India with manuka honey and she said that a lot of the properties of manuka were properties that most honeys do have. If you're really interested in getting pure manuka honey, the UMF is the measure to look for on the bottle. It should be UMF10 or above.

What you should be wary of is that many commercial honeys are treated or diluted in order to make them or palatable in different ways to the public, so what you're buying might not be pure honey at all.

I didn't realize that manuka was the same tree that produces tea tree oil as well. It's a clever little tree.

lluviaporos
Post 1

True manuka honey can be very expensive, but beware of imitations that may be cheaper. Unfortunately, I don't think there is a standard for the honey, so you just have to do research on each company in order to find out how they make their honey.

True manuka honey is dark and has a sort of peppermint flavor to it. It is made by bees who only have access to manuka flowers. Ever since manuka was shown in a study to be so good for various health treatments, people have been trying to exploit the name. They either use honey made by bees who had access to manuka as well as other flowers, or they mix pure manuka honey with ordinary honey or they just label ordinary honey as manuka.

Ordinary honey has also got good properties, but don't pay large amounts unless you're sure you're getting real manuka honey products.

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