Acne can be a hot topic….and the heat can certainly rise when worrying about how to get rid of acne!
The dreaded pimples affect most teenagers to varying degrees and can be very annoying, to the point of causing distress.
The good news is, teenagers can be helped through the dramatic roller-coaster pimple-ridden ride of the hormone-crazy adolescent years, making for much smoother and happier times (for the whole family!).
In fact, regardless of age and gender acne outbreaks and other skin conditions can often be effectively treated or at least reduced with the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) treatments and a few diet and lifestyle changes.
Acne according to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
From the TCM perspective acne is a ‘hot’ topic because it usually reflects what we call ‘internal heat’. Heat tends to rise to the face and upper body and inherently wants to come out of the body, sometimes through the skin…and pop, there’s a pimple or two!
So where does that acne-causing-internal-heat come from, you may wonder?
‘Internal heat’ comes from internal imbalances. Internal imbalances are generally a result of several factors such as constitution (genetics), emotions, diet, illness and/or environmental influences.
Constitution and Hormonal Changes: Teenagers are constitutionally full of what we call ‘yang’ energy. ‘Yang’ is the energy that helps create the necessary physical, hormonal and emotional changes and development in adolescents. ‘Yang’ is like the spark that ignites an engine and Yang is warm. Due to all the natural changes and transitions teenagers go through their energies tend to be unstable. They can easily become unbalanced and their ‘heat’ is prone to get a bit out of control!
Emotions: In addition to all the physical changes occurring during adolescence there are increased pressures and influences from schools, sports, peers and parents. Coping with all the changes, relationships, activities and life in general can be a confusing, confronting, stressful and anxious time. Emotions and feelings of stress, anxiety and worry can block and stagnate the circulation of our blood and Qi (the energy that ensures healthy flow and life force in our bodies). When the flow is blocked tension and heat is generated.
Diet: Have you ever heard the saying: “You are what you eat”? Put simply, what we put in our mouths i.e. what we eat and drink has huge impact on our bodies and on the health and appearance of our skin. Having too many fried, greasy, oily, sugary and spicy foods as well as alcohol and caffeinated drinks can all contribute to ‘internal heat’ and acne developing.
Environment: Not surprisingly our surrounding external environments effect our health and also our skin. What we are exposed to (air, sun, fumes, chemicals etc.) and what comes in touch with our skin (clothes, washing powder, soaps, moisturizers, make-up, aftershave etc.) all has an impact.
Other causes of heat
Excess ‘heat’ in the body or imbalances can also be caused by certain medications or from illnesses such as respiratory or gastric infections, glandular fever or a common cold. Even when the illness has passed the ‘heat’ may not have been fully cleared out of the system, or the body has been weakened and is no longer able to sufficiently eliminate the ‘heat’ and re-balance itself.
Sometimes ‘excess heat’ gets trapped in the body and become a problem because the normal routes of heat elimination and venting (bowels, urine and sweat) aren’t functioning optimally. This could be due to ongoing or more serious health issues such as digestive problems, food intolerance, allergies, urinary tract infections, or kidney problems.
Not only teenagers suffer from acne and skin outbreaks. Many women experience acne throughout or later on in their lives, often recurring cyclically with their periods or in relation to childbirth, menopause or stress.
Men too can be prone to acne in adulthood. This is more often linked to diet and lifestyle rather than hormonal imbalances.
Weird fact! The ‘heat’ that causes acne does not necessarily make a person feel hot….
Now, do we sense your temperature rising with suspense to find out how we actually get rid of that ‘internal heat’ and more importantly those big pimples on your chin?
In conventional medicine hormonal and steroidal medications are the most commonly used treatments for acne. These treatments can have a range of harsh and undesired effects and mainly focus on dealing with the symptom (the acne) rather than the cause behind the problem.
TCM treatments attempt to treat a person holistically. By treating the whole body-mind system of a person, imbalances can be corrected or minimized and ‘heat’ cleared to help the skin and get rid of the annoying acne. Since the cause of the acne is addressed long-term results are frequently achieved.
Treatments usually involve a combination of individually prescribed Chinese herbal medicines, acupuncture and some dietary changes, and maybe some herbal topical creams. TCM treatments have minimum or no side-effects, except the herbs, which are derived from natural plants and minerals, can taste a little ‘earthy’.
If the acne is due to ‘internal heat’ as a result of recent illness or ongoing health issues, such as menstrual pain and irregularities or digestive complaints, TCM treatments will help treat ALL the problems not just the acne. Now that’s a bonus worth considering!