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Can Acupuncture Help With My Acne?

Apr 15, 2022
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While we tend to associate acne with teen hormones, acne can affect us at any age. If you struggle with acne as an adult, you may have tried what feels like every topical treatment to make it go away.

Acupuncture for acne is a safer option than medication for many people.

While we tend to associate acne with teen hormones, acne can affect us at any age. If you struggle with acne as an adult, you may have tried what feels like every topical treatment to make it go away.

Thankfully, there are several treatments available, from acupuncture to prescription medications. So, which is right for you?

What Are The Most Common Causes Of Acne?

  • Stress. Stress may worsen existing acne or trigger new skin issues.

  • Hormonal changes. Hormone changes during puberty and midlife may lead to breakouts by causing your sebaceous glands to enlarge and make more sebum.

  • Gut inflammation. Inflammation in the gut caused by certain foods or stress may trigger acne breakou

  • Certain medications. Drugs containing corticosteroids, testosterone, or lithium, can all cause acne.

  • Family history. If one or both of your parents had adult acne, you’re more likely to struggle with the same issue.

  • Friction. Do you often hold your phone against your face while you talk, wear a backpack frequently while walking, or wear tight collars? If so, you have a greater risk of developing acne in these affected areas.

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Can Acupuncture Help With My Acne?

Yes, acupuncture has been shown to help reduce acne in both teenagers and adults.

Acupuncture is a medical practice that has been around for centuries. It’s believed to work by stimulating specific pressure points that circulate energy, also known as qi, through the body. Experts believe that acupuncture also helps your increase blood circulation and reduce inflammation.

By stimulating these acupuncture points, it’s possible to ease acne symptoms and even the underlying issues that cause them, including the hormonal imbalances mentioned above.

Is Acupuncture For Acne Safe?

Yes, acupuncture for acne is safe!

Acupuncture has been used for thousands of years and is recognized as effective by the World Health Organization with established guidelines for practice. In the United States, acupuncturists are also fully licensed by their state’s health department.

In fact, one significant benefit of acupuncture for treating acne is the minor side effects associated with this treatment compared to prescription acne medication.

What Are The Acupuncture Points For Acne?

Acne can have any number of different causes. As such, acupuncture points for acne can vary widely. Talking with your provider can help you determine what’s causing your acne and what you can do to treat it. 

The most common acupuncture points for acne include:

  • LI11 (Quchi). Located on the outside of your elbow crease.

  • LI4 (Hegu). Located between the base of your thumb and your index finger.

  • CV6 (Qihai). Located below your belly button on the midline of your abdomen.

  • SP10 (Xuehai). Located two finger widths above the inside corner of your knee cap.

  • ST25 (Tianshu). Located two finger widths from the side of your belly button.

  • LR3 (Taichong). Located on your foot, about two finger widths above the second toe.

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Can Nutrition Or Food Be Used To Treat Acne?

In Naturopathic medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine, nutrition is always to be looked into and addressed for any skin conditions, unless it is straight out due to the contact with highly allergenic substance such as poison oak. Your doctor may use nutritional and/or herbs along with certain type of diet.

There are some common foods known to cause inflammation in the gut and they are as follows:

Dairy

Multiple studies show the clear link between the dairy intake and acne. Although there is no clear understanding of the direct link, dairy consumption is known to increase insulin and IGF-1 production, which may worsen acne. In Traditional Chinese medicine, dairy is understood to produce “phlegm” in the body which contributes to the acne breakout.

Added Sugar

Sugars, in any forms, will increase the blood sugar level, leading to insulin spike and cause inflammation triggering or worsening acne. The problem is that these various forms of processed sugar are hidden in most of the packaged foods and it often goes undetected. In order to avoid them, you need to look out the following ingredients hidden in the fine prints:

  • agave nectar

  • barley malt

  • cane juice

  • dextrose

  • fructose

  • galactose

  • sucrose

  • natural sweetener

  • and more..

Refined Grains

Refined grains such as pasta, bread, cookies, and other refined carbs, are known to increase blood sugar when ingested regularly and in large amount, and cause inflammation triggering and/or worsening acne breakout.

Processed Foods & Food Additives

It is commonly known that processed foods have additional preservatives, food coloring, emulsifiers, sulfites, MSG, nitrites, and artificial sweeteners. These chemicals may enhance the palatability, texture and shelf life of the food but contribute to the increased inflammation markers in the body resulting in acne and more.

Food sensitivity test can help customize the dietary change for each individual, if necessary. There are many food sensitivity tests available to the public that don't require doctor's order, however, for more accurate result and implementation of necessary dietary changes, speak to your naturopathic doctor who can help you appropriately.

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How About Medication For Acne?

Your treatment recommendation will depend on the cause and severity of your acne, your age, and what treatment you’re willing to keep up. If you’ve tried over-the-counter (nonprescription) acne products for weeks and your acne is still lingering, your doctor might recommend prescription-strength medications.

However, many prescription treatments can be time-consuming and risky for specific groups.

For example, pregnant women have limited treatment options for acne because of the side effects associated with these medications. Some acne medications may cause congenital disabilities if taken while pregnant, including oral isotretinoin like Amnesteem or Claravis and topical retinoids.

Some of these treatments might require you to wash your face and apply medication to your skin twice a day for a month or more. Others require taking oral medication every day until your acne goes away. 

Benzoyl peroxide. This is usually available as a cream or gel and may be applied twice a day, 20 minutes after washing, to all parts of your face affected by acne. Benzoyl peroxide should be used sparingly, as too much can irritate your skin. It can also leave your face sensitive to sunlight, so avoid too much sunlight and sources of ultraviolet (UV) light (especially tanning beds), or wear sunscreen.

Topical retinoids. Retinoids clear up acne by removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface (exfoliation), which prevents them from building up within hair follicles and causing pimples. Tretinoin and adapalene are commonly prescribed topical retinoids used to treat acne. Retinoids are typically recommended for six weeks at a time.

Topical antibiotics. Antibiotics can kill the bacteria on your skin that may infect plugged hair follicles and cause acne. A six-to eight-week course is usually recommended. Treatment is generally stopped at the two-month mark because there’s a risk that the bacteria on your face can become resistant to the antibiotics.


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