Acupuncture for Acne: Does It Work?

by Ingela

With as many varieties of acne treatments as there are types of skin, how can you decide which treatment will work best for your own breakouts?

There are shelves of products claiming to zap your pimples, dozens of salons in every city offering miracle chemical peels and other services, plus books and websites touting home remedies with overnight success.  Who can you believe? Where should you begin?

Acupuncture is another voice in the crowd of acne treatments today, but not necessarily one that comes to mind every day.  Yes, acupuncture is that ancient Chinese treatment that uses needles to stimulate the body.

And yes, it promises to cure many things from headaches to hemorrhoids.  But acne?  I did a little digging to see if the acupuncture for acne claims really held up.

Alternative to Acne Medicine

Sometimes a dermatologist or general physician will recommend acupuncture to patients who are reluctant to treat their acne with medication.  To be fair, some medications can have risky side effects and other dangers, so it makes sense that not everyone is prepared to go that route.

By the same token, laser surgery and other treatments, like chemical peels or facials, might not be a first choice for some people.  As an alternative, acupuncture treatments are not medicinal or chemical in nature and have no health risks.

The major benefit to trying acupuncture is its lack of negative side effects.  You’ll take no medication, undergo no risky procedures.  Yet many people question the effectiveness of acupuncture treatments for acne.

While a few studies have reported success, others have been inconclusive.  Modern doctors find it tough to evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture, but evidence does exist that it could work.  And it might work for you.

How Acupuncture for Acne Works

Traditional Chinese Medicine treats skin problems with a holistic viewpoint, considering the physical, emotional, and environmental factors surrounding the individual patient before treatment.

For acne acupuncture therapy, specialists will focus on the heat and dampness that effects the organs and channels of the lungs, stomach and spleen – considered the source for acne troubles.

Every organ in Chinese medicine is associated with specific functions and a connection to the skin’s surface.  The lungs, stomach and spleen are pinpointed both because of their functions and the locations of their connections to the skin.  Specifically, these three organs are connected like this:

  • The lungs are “in charge” of the skin, so most skin diseases are treated through the lung in acupuncture therapy.  It’s also related to the pores, which become clogged and infected in patients with acne, resulting in a breakout.
  • The stomach is a warm area of the body and can gather additional heat.  This extra warmth may result in pimples along the stomach channel to the skin (around the chest and face).  Dampness in the stomach is connected to oily skin as well.
  • The spleen helps with the digestive process, thus controlling the amount of energy emitted throughout the body and ridding excess dampness.  If there is a problem, dampness accumulates and can cause oily skin and pimples.

Outside factors will also be considered by the acupuncture specialist, who may recommend additional behavior, diet, and exercise habits to take up or avoid along with your sessions.

Traditional Chinese herbs may also be provided for your treatment.  Typically, these do not carry the same risk factors as modern Western remedies. Following all of this advice as a complete treatment will help you achieve better results with acupuncture for acne.

A Downside to Acupuncture?

Perhaps the only downside to receiving acupuncture treatments is the cost.  Most insurance plans do not cover acupuncture because it is outside the traditional realm of medicine.  And many acupuncture specialists can charge a hefty amount per session.  Without a guarantee of success, you might be reluctant to pay the high price tag.

Still, no medical procedure offers a guarantee, only a potential solution.  Acupuncture as a treatment has no lesser or greater “guarantee” than any other treatment.  Keep that in mind while making your decision.

Common Concerns About Acupuncture

Most of us have never visited an acupuncture specialist, but we might have an idea what it looks like from television shows or movies.  If the unknown about this traditional Eastern treatment is holding you back from trying it, here are some answers to the common questions you may have.

By educating yourself about this alternative therapy, you can make the decision for yourself about whether or not you would like to try it.

  1. Will Acupuncture hurt? The idea of needles poking into your skin might be scary.  Acupuncture therapy does not hurt any more than a slight pinch.  Practitioners are trained at placing the needles without pain, by tricking the skin into thinking there is only pressure on the skin, not a very tiny needle.
  2. Can I get an infection from Acupuncture needles? Acupuncture needles are different from injection needles you’ll encounter at vaccinations or a blood donation.  Not only are they smaller, but they are also designed to gently push aside skin tissue, instead of tearing it, which eliminates the risk of infection.
  3. What kind of Herbal Treatments are involved? Your acupuncture practitioner might recommend traditional Chinese herbs – sometimes a mixture of 6 to 10 different types – which you boil and drink like a cup of tea each day.  They might not taste great, but when used in conjunction with the acupuncture therapy, the herbs will help rid the body of dampness and boost your success.
  4. How long do treatments take? Acupuncture for acne treatments will be done in a series of sessions for about four weeks.  This time frame is long enough for your body to adjust to the new conditions within itself and show the effects on your skin.

So… Does Acupuncture Cure Acne?

Treating your acne, whatever method you choose, takes some commitment on your part.  There’s no wonder cure, no miracle drug, no overnight solution.  If you choose acupuncture to cure acne, chances are good that you’ll see noticeable changes in one month provided you follow the directions and attend all your sessions.

To determine if Acupuncture is the right treatment for you, consult your physician or a dermatologist for more information.  They’ll give you some advice and refer you to an acupuncture practitioner they trust.

There are also many other treatments available, such as the completely natural acne treatment kit from ZenMed, which I highly recommend from doing a lot of research on acne treatments.

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