What is acne? What causes acne? Acne is a disorder that occurs in the hair follicles in the face, chest and back. This is known as black heads, white heads, pimples, pustules and cysts on the skin. It is a common condition in teenagers and younger adults. Acnes can be on and off for a few years and disappear by mid 20s. Acne can have a big impact on psychological well-being.
Acne is thought triggered by hormone imbalance. Too much androgen secretion is the major trigger. Changing of hormone levels makes glands in the skin produce excessive amounts of an oily substance- sebum. Increased male hormone stimulates the oil gland attached to the hair follicles-small holes in the skin. Increased male hormone alters the oil production which causes the follicular pores clogged and hair follicles enlarged. Bacteria can access to the deeper layers of the skin through these follicles causing inflammation. Inflammation closed to the skin surface causing a pustule; inflammation in deeper layer leads to pimple and a cyst. And sometimes scar can form from abnormal wound healing following inflammatory damage. White head is caused by oil clogging to the skin surface while black head is caused by oxidized oil or accumulated melanin pigment. The factors that don’t cause acne include heredity, food, dirt, or stress.
From Traditional Chinese Medicine point of view, there are several factors causing acne: heat and damp is accumulated in lung and stomach meridians causing skin blockage. Spleen dysfunction makes food transportation, digestion and transformation abnormal and produces more heat. This also makes obstruction in the skin.
Acne has great impact on quality of life
Acne is a very common disease in adolescents. Acne has great impact on quality of life. A study involved in 600 high school students investigated this aspect. There were 303 girls and 260 boys aged between 13 and 19. 83% of them was self reported acne. 40% was mild, 36% was moderate and 6.5% severe. There was a direct link between subjective, severety of acne and symptoms of anxiety, depression and lower self-esteem.
Stress makes acne worse
Acne is a very common disease in adolescents. Psychological stress has also been identified amongst factors that worsen acne. Recently a study involved in 160 students was carried out to investigate the association between acne severity and stress levels as well as the mechanism for this. They demonstrated a statistically significant positive correlation between increased self-reported stress and increased severity of acne; there was no correlation between increased stress and sebum levels. They explained that increased acne severity may result not from increased sebum secretion and excretion but from changes in neuropeptide secretion and sebum lipid composition. Other studies have shown that stress may affect the production of inflammatory mediators and specific lipids involved in inflammation by the sebaceous glands rather than the quantity of sebum. Acupuncture reduces inflammation and is used to treat acne effectively.
Do you know acupuncture helps reduce acne? Acupuncture may help with treat acne by reducing inflammation from promoting release of anti-inflammatory factors, modulating immune cell activities including natural killer cell activities and improving local blood circulation.
There were many case reports that acupuncture can treat acne. For example, Son BK et al studied the effect of acupuncture on acne. They found that 12 sessions of acupuncture over 6 weeks reduced inflammatory lesion counts and quality of life in patients with acne. Recently Li B et al studied the current situation in research to evaluate the therapeutic effect and safety for clinical randomized and controlled trials of treatment of acne with acupuncture and moxibustion in China. They analysed 17 papers involving 1613 cases with acne and they found that acupuncture and moxibustion is safe and effective for treatment of acne and it is possibly better than routine western medicine.
Here is an example of a case. Lily is 30 year old. She had acne on her face on and off for 6 months. There are many newly formed pimples, cysts and some of them are infected by bacteria forming pustules. Scars can be seen on her face. She also had mouth odour and constipation. She heard from a friend that acupuncture may help her and wanted to try acupuncture. After a course of acupuncture, the acne symptoms were improved significantly. Also mouth odour was improved and there was no constipation at all. After 3 courses of treatment, acne was cured.
Acne treatments can take months to have some effects. Acupuncture is used to treat acne efficiently. There was a study using acupuncture to treat acne. In this study the criteria of participant selection is that they (older than 13 year old) had more than 10 papules and less than 10 nodules on the face and had acne for more than 3 months (chronic stage). They did not use retinoids, antibodies or herbal medicine for acne before. They did not have chemical peeling, intense pulsed light or laser treatment within the past month. After 6 week treatments, there was a significant reduction in the inflammatory acne lesion counts.
They suggested that acupuncture treatment of moderate acne vulgaris was associated with reduction of inflammatory lesions and improvement of the quality of life. The significant effects can be obtained in 6 weeks.
Acupuncture has better effect for treating acne than oxycycline
A study has compared the efficacy differences between acupuncture and oxycycline tablets for the treatment of moderate to severe acne vulgaris. Sixty cases of moderate to severe acne vulgaris were involved in this study and they were divided into acupuncture group and medication group with oxycycline treatment). The treatment duration was 20 days. The fading time of skin damage, including papule, pustule, nodule and cyst in the two groups was recorded and clinical efficacy was compared. After the treatment, two-month follow-up was performed to observe the recurrence rate in the two groups. The results have shown that the curative rate was 69.0% (20/29) in the acupuncture group, which was significantly higher than 40.0% (12/30) in the medication group. The fading time of each type of skin damage in the acupuncture group was shorter than that in the medication group. Recurrence rate was similar between two groups.
Study has shown that acne patients used antibiotics too long
Acne is not a life threatening condition, however it affects patients quality of life so much. The spots take their happiness away. Women cannot go out without covering the spots up first. They often use over-the-counter creams, prescription gels, and finally: oral antibiotics. Antibiotics was used too long and increased the antibiotic resistance makes antibiotics loss their effects. A research study at a dermatology practice in an academic medical center has shown that the average duration of antibiotic use was 331.3 days. In all, 21 patients (15.3%) were prescribed antibiotics for 3 months or less, 88 patients (64.2%) for 6 months or more, and 46 patients (33.6%) for 1 year or longer. Patients treated only at the study site had a mean duration of antibiotic treatment of 283.1 days whereas patients who also received antibiotics from another institution had a mean duration of 380.2 days.
Li B et al Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2009) 29:247-51
Son BK et al Acupunct Med (2010) 28:126-9
Gong and Qian J Tradit Chin Med )2007) 27:255-7
Gil Yosipovitch et al Acta Derm Venereol 2007; 87: 135–139.
Jiang M et al Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2014) 34:663-6
Bodo C Melnik, Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology 2015:8 371–388
Caperton et al J Clin Aesthet Dermatol (2014) 7:19-23
Naqler AR et al J Am Acad Dermatol (2015) Oct 29. pii: S0190-9622(15)02254-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2015.09.046
Son et al Acupunct Med (2010) 28:126-9
Welcome to my blog
Leading acupuncture specialist for facial rejuvenation, pain relief, stress relief, fertility, fatigue, anxiety.
Based at Kensington and Chelsea at Central London. Qualified as a medical doctor in Western medicine in China with a Medical degree from Beijing, China and a PhD degree from the UK. Many year research and clinical experiences. This blog is for information only.
Facial aging and Facial rejuvenation acupuncture
Fertility and acupuncture10 Reasons why you should try acupuncture for
Fertility and acupuncture10 Reasons why you should try acupuncture for
My Guest blog articles and Reviews
Guest blog articles
M Ju. (2015) What Part Does Acupuncture Play in IVF?
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 22 Issue 1 March 2015 P21
M Ju (2014) Current opinion in acupuncture on stroke rehabilitation
The Journal of Chinese Medicine And Acupuncture Volume 21 Issue 1 September 2014 P9
Saturday, 17 February 2018
Suffer from acne, acupuncture can help
Muscle spasms or muscle cramps are very common, and they occur when a muscle involuntarily contracts and cannot relax. This most frequently ...
Can acupuncture help patients with stroke? Stroke is a serious condition which blood supply to the brain is cut off. It is the second most...
Hemiplegia which is severer than hemiparesis is paralysis of one half of the body on the same side. Brain damage is one of the causes. The p...
Thigh is the area between the hip and the knee. There is only single bone in the thigh called fumar, but there are a few groups of muscles i...