Most people think about acupuncture for acne after they’ve already tried everything else—over-the-counter creams, prescription drugs, chemical peels, you name it. But acupuncture, because it’s safe and effective (and has tons of side benefits), should be thought of as a first-line therapy for acne.
The difference between acupuncture and most other mainstream therapies for acne is that acupuncture treats acne by addressing its root cause.
Acupuncturists consider each individual’s constitution and collection of symptoms in order to determine where the acne is coming from and how to treat it.
What is causing your acne?
From an acupuncture perspective, your acne is different than your neighbor’s acne whose acne is different from her boyfriend’s acne.
Heat, dampness, and stagnation are the most common patterns leading to acne—and each results in a different manifestation of acne.
Acupuncturists look at the location of acne, level of inflammation, and overall look of your skin to determine what type of imbalance may be causing your acne. They also look at the tongue and take your pulse for additional diagnostic information, along with any other symptoms you may be experiencing.
Here are some examples of how acne can show up differently:
Acne that shows up around the cheeks, nose, and forehead, as well as on the chest and upper back, is often caused by Lung heat. This type of acne is usually red and painful.
Cystic acne tends to come from a dampness pattern, because dampness causes oily skin. People dealing with damp-type acne usually see it on on their lower jaw, cheeks, or back.
Acne that worsens around the menstrual cycle often is a sign of qi and blood stagnation. Stress and frustration also cause qi stagnation, which is why many people experience breakouts when they’re stressed out.
In cases of acne cause by stagnation, the affected areas of the skin are often more purplish opposed to the redness seen in heat-related acne.
How’s your digestion?
In patients who are dealing with acne, acupuncturists ask a lot of questions about digestion. Symptoms like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and acid reflux are all indicators of where your acne may be coming from.
For example, if in addition to acne you suffer from heartburn—a sign of heat—your acupuncture treatment would probably include points for eliminating heat from the body. If you have a poor appetite and loose stools, a treatment to eliminate dampness is more likely.
Green tea: A home remedy for acne
In between acupuncture treatments, stock up on green tea!
Green tea has wonderful antioxidant capabilities and is a metabolism booster. It helps to reduce sugar in your blood, which reduces inflammation in the skin. A cup a day can go a long way.
You can also use green tea for a face wash. Green tea’s antioxidant abilities also work topically. Just brew a cup of fresh green tea, let it cool to a comfortable warm temperature, and wash your face with it. You can also crush moist leaves and make a face mask to wear for 10 minutes (or mix it with a rhassoul clay mask).
Green-tea face wash protects the natural oils in your skin from oxidizing and causing acne. It also reduces sebum production and inflammation, making it a great natural home remedy for acne.
In addition to using green tea to reduce your blood sugar, you can also cut back on your sugar intake. From an acupuncture perspective, too much sugar leads to dampness, a leading cause of acne.