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Acupuncture treatment for Acne

1. Background of Acne

Acne, also known as acne vulgaris, is a long-term skin disease that occurs when dead skin cells and oil from the skin clog hair follicles. Typical features of the condition include blackheads or whiteheads, pimples, oily skin, and possible scarring. It primarily affects skin with a relatively high number of oil glands, including the face, upper part of the chest, and back. The resulting appearance can lead to anxiety, reduced self-esteem, and, in extreme cases, depression or thoughts of suicide. Genetics is the primary cause of acne in 80% of cases. Lifestyle including sleep habit, smoking, unhealthy food, and stress also closely related to the condition. Additionally, androgen level disorders and inflammation also affect the onset of acne.

2. Acne in Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine, acne is further classified as lung heat, damp heat in the stomach, a combination of blood stasis and phlegm, and irregulation of the Chong and Ren channels. A comprehensive therapy is applied to treat acne, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, herbal mask, and ear acupuncture.

3. Acupuncture Treatment for Acne

A literature review with meta-analysis from 98 published papers (2004-2007) suggested that 54 acupoints in 98 different points-formula were used in the treatment of acne. LI4, LI11, DU14, ST36, and BL13 were among the most frequently selected points. Yangming (LI and ST)and Taiyang (BL) are the primary meridians in the treatment. Special points including the Five-Shu points, Yuan-source points, Back-Shu points were frequently combined.

As mentioned in Zhen Jiu Da Cheng, LI4 is the primary point to treat all symptoms on the face! The research showed the same outcome in clinical practice. LI11 is commonly used to drain the heat in Yangming which goes up to the face. Therefore, LI11 is also a primary point to treat skin diseases incl. urticaria, eczema, and acne on the face. DU14 can be used to treat various skin diseases by clearing heat and dispersing pathogens. ST36 supplements Qi to lift pathogen outside the body.


  1. Wu YN, Bai MJ, Wang YQ, Zhang Z, Yu XJ. Study on Regularities in Acupoint Selection for Acupuncture Treatment of Acne. Shanghai Journal of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, 2018, 36(6): 695-700.

  2. Kiron NM, Hoque T. A Case Report of Acne Vulgaris: Treated by Combination of Acupuncture. J Clin Exp Dermatol Res. 2018;9(446):2.

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