Acne is a disease that affects the skin’s oil glands. The small holes in your skin (pores) connect to oil glands under the skin. These glands make an oily substance called sebum. The pores connect to the glands by a canal called a follicle. Inside the follicles, oil carries dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. A thin hair also grows through the follicle and out to the skin. When the follicle of a skin gland clogs up, a pimple grows.

Most pimples are found on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. Acne is not a serious health threat but, it can cause scars.

How Does Acne Develop?

Sometimes, the hair, sebum, and skin cells clump together into a plug. The bacteria in the plug causes swelling. Then when the plug starts to break down, a pimple grows.

There are many types of pimples. The most common types are:

  • Whiteheads. These are pimples that stay under the surface of the skin.
  • Blackheads. These pimples rise to the skin’s surface and look black. The black color is not from dirt.
  • Papules. These are small pink bumps that can be tender.
  • Pustules. These pimples are red at the bottom and have pus on top.
  • Nodules. These are large, painful, solid pimples that are deep in the skin.
  • Cysts. These deep, painful, pus-filled pimples can cause scars.

Who Gets Acne?

Acne is the most common skin disease. Nearly 17 million people in the United States have it. People of all races and ages get acne. But it is most common in teenagers and young adults. Nearly 85 percent of people between the ages of 12 and 24 get acne. For most people, acne goes away by age 30. But some people in their forties and fifties still get acne.
What Causes Acne?

The cause of acne is unknown. Doctors think certain factors might cause it:

  • The hormone increase in teenage years (this can cause the oil glands to plug up more often)
  • Hormone changes during pregnancy
  • Starting or stopping birth control pills
  • Heredity (if your parents had acne, you might get it, too)
  • Some types of medicine
  • Greasy makeup.

How Is Acne Treated?

Acne is treated by doctors who work with skin problems (dermatologists). Treatment tries to:

  • Heal pimples
  • Stop new pimples from forming
  • Prevent scarring
  • Help reduce the embarrassment of having acne.

Early treatment is the best way to prevent scars. Your doctor may suggest over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription drugs. Some acne medicines are put right on the skin. Other medicines are pills that you swallow. The doctor may tell you to use more than one medicine.

How Should People With Acne Care for Their Skin?

Here are some ways to care for skin if you have acne:

  • Clean skin gently. Use a mild cleanser in the morning, evening, and after heavy workouts. Scrubbing the skin does not stop acne. It can even make the problem worse.
  • Try not to touch your skin. People who squeeze, pinch, or pick their pimples can get scars or dark spots on their skin.
  • Shave carefully. If you shave, you can try both electric and safety razors. With safety razors, use a sharp blade. Also, it helps to soften your beard with soap and water before putting on shaving cream. Shave lightly and only when you have to.
  • Stay out of the sun. Many acne drugs can make people more likely to sunburn. Being in the sun a lot can also make skin wrinkle and raise the risk of skin cancer.
  • Choose makeup carefully. All makeup should be oil free. Look for the word “noncomedogenic” on the label. This means that the makeup will not clog up your pores. But some people still get acne even if they use these products.

What Things Can Make Acne Worse?

Some things can make acne worse:

  • Changing hormone levels in teenage girls and adult women 2 to 7 days before their period starts
  • Leaning on or rubbing the skin
  • Pressure from bike helmets, backpacks, or tight collars
  • Pollution and high humidity
  • Squeezing or picking at pimples
  • Hard scrubbing of the skin.

What Are Some Myths About the Causes of Acne?

There are many myths about what causes acne. Dirty skin and stress do not cause acne. Also, chocolate and greasy foods do not cause acne in most people.
What Research Is Being Done on Acne?

Scientists are looking at new ways to treat acne. They are:

  • Working on new drugs to treat acne
  • Looking at ways to prevent plugs
  • Looking at ways to stop the hormone testosterone from causing acne.


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Nutritional and Herbal Therapy for Acne

The following Chinese herbal patent formulas can help treat acne: Fu Fang Zhen Zhu An Chuang Wan (a variation of Margarite Acne Pills) and Chuan Shan Jia Qu Shi Qing Du Wan.

Nutritional Therapy

Description: Skin blemishes or pimples characterize this condition. It can occur at any point throughout the lifetime and is related to a hormonal imbalance. In Chinese terminology, the lungs control the skin, and acne is commonly a condition of ‘heat’ in the lungs. Thus, the Chinese approach to this condition is to cool the heat, cleanse the lungs, and also work externally on the healing process.

Recommendations: squash, cucumbers, watermelon, winter melon, celery, carrots, cabbage, beet tops, dandelions, aloe vera, mulberry leaves and plenty of fresh fruits


  • Blend a cucumber, apply externally; leave on for twenty minutes then wash off.
  • Apply plain, low fat organic yogurt; leave on for twenty minutes then wash off.
  • Rub watermelon rind on the acne.
  • Apply aloe vera.
  • Eat watermelon or drink watermelon juice.
  • Drink dandelion and beet top tea.
  • Drink lukewarm water with two teaspoons of honey every morning on an empty stomach. This effectively lubricates the intestines. If one does not evacuate the intestines regularly, the toxins either end up in the liver or coming out on the skin.

Avoid: fried foods, fatty foods, spicy foods, oily foods, coffee, alcohol, sugar, smoking, stress, constipation, makeup, washing with chemicals or soap. Rather, wash with cool water. If the face is dirty, steam it with hot water to induce sweating; then wash with cold water.


Dr. Maoshing Ni and Cathy McNease from the Tao of Nutrition

Acne Medicine: Acupuncture For Acne Offers No Side Effects For Sufferers

With the ever-growing list of acne treatments, there is one that often goes unnoticed. Acupuncture for acne does provide varying results, but studies have shown that this acne medicine is most effective when combined with another. For example, studies have indicated that the most positive results were achieved in patients who used acupuncture for acne, along with changes in their lifestyle and/or diet.

Either a dermatologist or a family physician may recommend acupuncture for acne. Among the reasons, a patient’s unwillingness to take medications. With their risky side effects and potential dangers, many people simply do not want to burden themselves with conventional medicine. That is where acupuncture for acne often comes into play. In addition, many patients do not want to undergo laser surgery or treatments, which is another common form of acne treatment.

If acupuncture for acne is considered, the patient may be referred to another doctor for the actual procedure. Sometimes, depending on their experience, a dermatologist or family physician may be licensed to perform acupuncture for acne themselves.

Acupuncture for acne is not without question, however. As there are few studies that have been performed regarding it’s success with acne, many physicians find it difficult to evaluate whether or not the treatments will actually work. From the studies that have been performed, indications are that acupuncture for acne has shown to reduce the signs of acne.

Even with the uncertainty surrounding the actual success rates of acupuncture for acne, the main benefit lies in the lack of negative side effects. Because there are no medications ingested or dangerous surgeries performed, the patient is not thought to be at risk for the harmful side effects that either of these methods often carry.

The minor concerns regarding acupuncture for acne is the expense related to the procedure, which can be costly and does not provide the patient with any guarantee of success, and the general fear of needles that some people have. At the same time, it’s important to remember that no medical procedure can really offer the patient any type of guarantee.

This article is to be used for informational purposes only. The information contained herein is not intended to be used in place of, or in conjunction with, professional medical advice regarding acupuncture for acne. Prior to beginning any treatment regimen, the patient must consult a licensed medical doctor or dermatologist for advice and/or to determine the best course of action for his/her individual situation.


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