Pimples can be embarrassing for teenagers and adults alike. The modern treatment of acne requires a holistic approach.

Acne is a very common condition that involves the formation of comedones (“pimples”) in the skin. The known causes of acne in both western medicine and naturopathic medicine are summarized as the “four pillars of acne”: clogged pores, as well as increased oil, bacteria and inflammation. Interestingly, in Ayurveda the very same “pillars” are understood as imbalance of the doshas and so increased kapha and/or increased pitta together with slight increase in vata can lead to the various forms of acne. Significant overlap also exists between the four pillars and the way acne is perceived in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) which views acne as increased qi and the end result of unbalanced diet, increased heat and invasion by external factors (bacteria, chemicals and such) as well as stasis.

Not surprisingly treatment of acne in all four disciplines can be related to at least one of the four pillars. Read more about acne in western medicine, Ayurveda, TCM and naturopathic medicine.

Medical Perspectives

Western image

Western

Acne is a very common condition that involves the formation of comedones (black heads and white heads), pustules (pimples), and/or deep bumps (nodules) in the skin. Almost everyone deals with acne at some point and the severity can vary. The known causes of acne are summarized as the “four pillars of acne”: clogged pores, increased oil, bacteria and inflammation. Not all four causes are equally active in each person’s acne, some people may have too much oil production while another may have a hormone imbalance. Acne can cause significant distress regardless of the severity and finding the right skin regimen is important.

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Naturopathy image

Naturopathy

Acne is the most common skin disorder in adolescents and is also the most common skin disorder seen in dermatology practice.[1] People are most affected on the face, though the arms/shoulders, back and upper chest are often involved.[1] A naturopathic approach involves the inclusion of dietary, herbal, and lifestyle based choices in the management of acne. In some states, a naturopathic approach may involve the use of some pharmaceuticals and procedures.

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Traditional Chinese image

Traditional Chinese

Just as there are many different types of acne, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) understands that people develop acne from different underlying causes. Chinese medicine doctors consider the appearance of the skin such as the location of the acne, the presence of white heads and black heads, inflammation, cysts, and overall health to determine the root imbalance of acne. Heat, toxicity, dampness, Qi and blood stagnation are all common causes of acne.[1,2]

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