The People's Perspective on Medicine

How Milk of Magnesia Cleared Stubborn Blemishes

A person who suffered from stubborn blemishes for many years found that applying milk of magnesia worked better than other treatments.
Woman middle age ethnic origin asia have problems with the facial skin is acne and blemishes.

Stubborn blemishes can be extremely distressing. People with moderate to severe acne sometimes report that they feel embarrassed by a bad outbreak and withdraw from social interaction. When skin conditions are not acne, but some other type of blemish such as folliculitis, psoriasis or rosacea, the social stigma may be equally hard to bear. One reader with a persistent problem got relief from an unexpected remedy.

Many Treatments for Stubborn Blemishes:

Q. Over many years, I have consulted seven physicians, including two dermatologists, about a condition on my face and neck identified alternately as folliculitis and acne. I have used numerous antibiotics, antifungals, and steroids (including direct injection, patches, and topical creams) as well as Retin-A and Finacea and topical anti-inflammatories.

I have also tried every over-the-counter product that seemed likely and spent hours soaking in Epsom salts. Nothing has cleared my skin.

In despair over these stubborn blemishes, I turned to home remedies. Listerine began to get the lesions under control. But milk of magnesia (MoM) has made the biggest difference. I read about it in your column.

MoM has a strong drawing effect. Thank you for writing about it.

Milk of Magnesia to Clear the Skin:

A. As far as we can tell, dermatologists have not studied milk of magnesia for stubborn blemishes. That is despite a provocative letter to the editor of the medical journal JAMA Dermatology (Jan. 1, 1975)

Milk of magnesia is an oral laxative, magnesium hydroxide, that has been used for more than 140 years. In addition, other readers report that topical MoM works well as a deodorant and to treat under-breast rashes. Because milk of magnesia is basic, it may alter the environment for skin microbes. This might help explain how it could help against stubborn blemishes. 

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Acne Solutions
  • Sigal R, "Letter: Milk of magnesia treatment for acne." Archives of Dermatology, Jan. 1975.
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I’ve been using MOM as a deodorant for 20 years. As long as I use Ivory or green Irish Spring soap to wash under my arms it works from early morning until the next day’s shower. Unfortunately, I used Dove one day….Not Good! I had a problem by dinner time.
When the dermatologist removed some of the bumps under my breast, and said he’d work on the others, I tried MOM there, as well. Voila! I no longer itched and dripped, but the bumps have decreased in size.

Did you ever try using fragrance-free laundry detergent? That was the solution for me.

To try this do we need to buy liquid milk of magnesia in the blue bottle, or is it safe to just roll on some of your MoM deodorant?

We honestly don’t know. We have assumed this reader applied MoM from the blue bottle, left it on for five minutes or so, and then washed it off. We welcome detailed descriptions from others who have used MoM for blemishes.

How to use it?

I tried this 2 days ago and I could feel how it draws out any thing clogging the pores. I noticed that the blemishes are healing quickly.

I love this site, it has helped me with so many health issues, that I am so grateful to have found it.

Using a small dab of virgin olive oil seems to be working.

I’m wondering if MoM would help draw out white heads… seems like the older I get the more of these things appear. Anyone have any answers?

My son has a skin condition which is not clearing up with various Allopathic medicines ( name brand cream and other anti-bacterial creams) so he is now taking Neem tablets which is an Ayurvedic medicine to help with skin conditions and blood purification. Neem is working but I guess it will take time.

Following your article on Milk of Magnesia as a treatment for skin conditions, I will ask my son to try that remedy. Thanks very much for writing about this.


I am wondering about the method of application. There are no specific details in the question or answer.

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