Acne is among the most common of skin conditions.  It afflicts most teenagers to some degree, and can even extend into adulthood, or reoccur in menopause.  The degree of severity can vary, from a few breakouts, to extensive formation of cysts and sometimes even can create scarring.  All degrees of acne can have a significant effect on social and emotional health and can be the source of physical pain and local skin infections.
 
According to Western medicine, acne is a disorder of the hair follicle sebaceous gland.  This gland can get clogged up from a skin, which is normally shed off the body.   The clogged pore then becomes a pimple.  Hormones and bacteria in the skin further exacerbate the clogging of pores.  In some people, the pimple can become inflamed leading to development of large painful pimples, commonly referred to as cysts.
 
Traditional Chinese/ Medicine /Acupuncturist Viewpoint

Acupuncturist consider the  physical, emotional, and environmental factors of their patients when treating skin problems.  From an acupuncturist’s perspective, acne is most often associated with what acupuncturist describe as heat and dampness in the body which can affect the organs and disrupt the energy channels of the lungs, stomach, and spleen.  Balancing this dampness and heat in the body not only improves the acne topically, but also allows the body to heal as a whole.

Ayurveda Viewpoint

Ayurveda is the traditional medical system in India, which has been in place for thousands of years. According to ayurveda, there are three doshas, or mind/body types – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. An imbalance in the doshas causes disease. Acne typically involves an imbalance in all three doshas, which is why you need to approach it through multiple modalities.

An imbalance in Vata results in impaired digestion and accumulation of toxins. An imbalance of Pitta affects the blood and liver allowing for inflammation. Excess Kapha, which controls the production of sebum, results in clogging of the pores. This combination of impaired digestion, accumulation of toxins, inflammation, and over-production of sebum creates the perfect environment for the overgrowth of bacteria resulting in chronic acne. The overgrowth of bacteria is only an effect of the underlying imbalances, but not the ultimate cause of acne. That is why treating acne with antibiotics orally and topically may never fully cure the problem.