Acne in Chinese Medicine, and what your body is telling you.

Acne in Chinese Medicine tells us a lot about what is happening in our body.

In Chinese Medicine, we view the body holistically – meaning we see the whole body and its various systems as linked. We believe symptoms in one part of the body can tell us a lot about what else is going on in the body as a whole. If one thing is affected, you’ll most often find there are other symptoms that have occurred at the same time, without you even realising it.


In fact, when patients take Chinese herbal medicine for one complaint, they often report that other seemingly unrelated symptoms have disappeared. This is often the case when treating skin conditions such as acne.

In Chinese Medicine, acne is not just seen as an external problem, but rather as the manifestation of an internal imbalance. Different imbalances result in different types of acne and a range of corresponding symptoms throughout the body. In this article, we explore some of the most common Chinese Medicine patterns – and the symptoms that may occur alongside your breakout. Read on.

Pustules plus… digestive issues

Pustules (inflamed red acne with a white/yellow head) can often indicate a build-up of toxicity, heat and dampness in the body, which will present itself as inflammation and pus in the skin. Other symptoms that can sometimes be seen with this type of pattern include digestive complaints such as bloating, loose stools and stomach pain, as well as fluid retention.

In Zilch Acne Formula, we include Hunga Bai, Pu Gong Yin and a number of other herbal ingredients to directly target pustules and digestive discomfort by clearing toxins, reducing heat and dissipating damp.

Deep, sore acne plus… painful, dark periods

If you experience deep, sore, hard acne that feels like marbles under the skin, you’ll know about it. This painful, persistent, throbbing type of acne has no head and often takes weeks to resolve. So, what exactly causes it?

In Chinese Medicine, nodular acne is seen as a sign of blood stagnation, which essentially means that your blood circulation is sluggish and needs boosting.

Many women with this type of acne also have periods that are painful and clotted, with menstrual blood that is thick and dark, rather than thin and bright. These are typical blood stagnation signs. Tao Ren, Hong Hua and Dan Shen are three Zilch ingredients that work to break up stagnant blood and accelerate healing.

Hormonal acne plus… PMS

Do you suffer from isolated breakouts or acne flare ups the week before your period? You may want to work on balancing your hormones. Hormonal acne breakouts are very common and will often occur alongside other PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating and fluid retention, cramping, mood swings (irritability and/or melancholy), sleeplessness and headaches.

However, you really don’t have to resign yourself to suffering each month. If you’re bothered by breakouts or PMS, make an appointment to see your Chinese Medicine practitioner, GP or acupuncturist to discuss ways you can balance your hormones and relieve your monthly symptoms.

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