Acne basics

Acne is a disorder caused by the action of hormones and other substances on the skin’s oil glands or hair follicles, resulting in legions on the face, neck, shoulders, chest, and/or back. This occurs when a plug forms in the follicle, blocking sebum (an oily substance that the sebaceous glands produce) from releasing onto the skin through a pore. Bacteria that normally grows on the skin’s surface instead grows in the blocked follicle, signaling white blood cells, which cause inflammation. When the wall of the follicle finally breaks down, it spills its contents into the nearby skin, causing lesions or pimples.

Chinese Medicine diagnostic patterns

The Chinese Medicine treatment of acne generally involves arriving at the appropriate TCM diagnosis or pattern. This pattern within the individual is what treatment is based on not the general condition .

The following patterns may represent the underlying contributing factors for the development of acne:

  • Heat in blood
  • Liver fire
  • Spleen and stomach damp heat

The treatments will include acupuncture, cupping, herbal medicine, and lifestyle change.

Current Research

Lu & Xue 2018 (SA & MA of 10 RCTs ), the chance of achieving ≥30% & ≥50% change in lesion count in the acupuncture group was no different to the pharmacotherapy group; acupuncture and auricular acupressure were not statistically different to guideline recommended pharmacological treatments but were with fewer side effects and may be a treatment option (1).

  1. Mansu SS, Liang H, Parker S, Coyle ME, Wang K, Zhang AL, Guo X, Lu C, Xue CC. Acupuncture for acne vulgaris: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018 Jan 1;2018