Acupuncture for Acne

Did you know that acne is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world? In particular, 85% of Australians aged 15-24 experience acne at some point, with a large number of them going on to experience adult acne. 

There are two kinds of acne:

  1. Non-Inflammatory acne is usually painless and refers to blocked pores that can turn into blackheads and whiteheads.
  2. Inflammatory acne usually causes skin redness with pain, itching and lesions that include papules, pustules and cysts. Typically painless, non-inflammatory acne refers to blocked pores that turn into whiteheads and blackheads. 

What causes acne?
Acne is a complex condition that can be caused by multiple sources. At its most basic level, a build up of oil in ducts and follicles provides a space for the C.Acnes bacteria to multiply. This in turn triggers inflammation in the follicle before comedone or cyst formation occurs. This can lead to itching, soreness and sometimes scarring as the lesion heals. 

Why does this occur? From a western point of view, these can include:

  • Hormonal imbalance i.e. PMS or PCOS related acne,
  • Digestion – i.e. gut health
  • Blood sugar instability,
  • Inability to detox waste products,
  • Inflammation.

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the body is viewed as a whole interconnected system. Each person has a unique pattern that makes up their health picture with the acne being part of a broader picture. Whereas Western Medicine views acne as the build up of oil, bacteria and skin cells, Chinese Medicine looks deeper and seeks to find the root cause of the issue – not just the symptoms. 

Generally in Chinese Medicine, acne is seen as an accumulation of a number of internal factors including Heat, Damp, Phlegm and Toxicity that cause inflammation in the skin. There may also be stasis and issues in blood circulation causing this. A practitioner will look at the particular journey that brought the person and their skin to their current state as well as their balance of diagnostic factors in order to diagnose and design a treatment plan. 

How does acupuncture help to clear acne?
Chinese medicine seeks to get to the root of the problem. At South Hobart Acupuncture use a variety of facial diagnosis, traditional Chinese diagnostics, blood tests results and functional medicine results to get to the cause of your acne and skin issues. 

Acupuncture helps to reduce acne by:

  – Reducing inflammation: we know that acne is a multi-factorial inflammatory condition. By calming the nervous system we can start to turn down the volume on your inflammation.
Optimising digestion: to help the liver, lymphatics and colon remove waste adequately, so the skin has to stop stepping in to help eliminate waste. 
Removing ‘heat’ and ‘damp’: We use acupuncture to help ‘cool down’ the inflammation internally and in the skin.
  – Boosting blood circulation: if the body has sluggish blood flow or lymphatic issues, then there may be an increase in blockages and swelling. Acupuncture helps to improve microcirculation to the skin to combat this. 

In your initial consultation, your practitioner will:

  • Assess and diagnose your skin,
  • Write up your treatment plan,
  • Prescribe custom herbal prescription,
  • Discuss your acupuncture plan,
  • Go through any adjacent therapies including diet and skincare. 

Our focus is on treating the root cause of your acne with the aim that once your skin is clear, it should stay clear.

How long will treatment for acne take?
This depends on what the root cause of your acne is and how long you have had it for. We normally say between 3-12 months is a good estimate of timeline. Treatment length will be shorter if this is a new issue while it will take longer for chronic skin conditions to clear and heal.

How will I know treatment is working?
The average skin cycle renews every 28-35 days however, so you will start to notice changes in as little as a month. You can expect to see a number of changes as your inflammation decreases and your skin barrier heals. Your skin and acne may:

  • Look less red
  • Feel less sore and inflamed
  • Feel less deep
  • Come to a head easier
  • Heal faster
  • Break out less frequently and severely

You may also notice your skin doesn’t feel as oily or bumpy, and is smoother to touch.

Will I need to take herbal medicine? 
With any dermatological or skin issues we need to work from the inside out. If we only work internally or externally we won’t get lasting results. By clearing the root of the issue (inflammation) with herbs, and helping the outside with acupuncture we can achieve the best results as quickly as possible. 

Will I have to do homework?
Everyone is individual however most people will require some at-home work either in the form of diet modifications, drainage pathway support and/or skincare changes.

Why does my acne keep coming back?
It might be that you have not yet found the root cause of your acne. Or you may have ceased treatment too soon. A full course of treatments is needed to clear the underlying reason your acne is occurring and ceasing treatment before this is done can cause the condition to return.

What about any scarring or hyperpigmentation post-treatment?
Acupuncture is fantastic for scarring, pitting and hyperpigmentation. If this is the case for you, please chat with your practitioner and they can develop a post-treatment plan for you.

Any questions? Please get in touch – we are here to help. 

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South Hobart Acupuncture acknowledges the muwinina people of lutruwita, who are Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are fortunate enough to work and play. We recognise their continued connection to the land and waters of this beautiful place and acknowledge that they never ceded sovereignty. We respect all Elders and Ancestors, and the rights of all first nations people throughout Australia and the Torres Strait to care for Country, to share and to celebrate culture
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