Acne. It comes. It goes. It comes again. Wait, why is it not going away? Sometimes acne can be persistent. It can be there when you are a teen and have a school dance to go to. It can also be there when you become an adult. What can you do about that? Can acupuncture help?
In this article, we are going to look at whether or not acupuncture works for acne, what to expect for costs, the number of sessions that may be required, and recommended acupuncture points.
Acupuncture for Acne
Inflammation, according to one study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, inflammation plays a role in all stages of acne and acne lesion development. The inflammation aspect of acne is where acupuncture can be beneficial to managing and treating acne. Want to know how?
How Does Acupuncture for Acne Work?
This one study found that with inflammation being present at all stages of acne - acupuncture can hold the key to the lock that acne holds. Acupuncture may work to reduce the inflammation experienced through acne in two different ways:
Nervous system: Peripheral muscarinic receptors may be activated through acupuncture treatments.
Immune system: Adaptive and innate immune responses to the acupuncture needle stimulation and acupuncture treatments.
How Effective is Acupuncture for Acne?
Many people want to know how effective is acupuncture for acne? This one study worked deciphering the effectiveness level acupuncture for acne. The participants of the study received twelve sessions in the time span of six weeks. After six weeks, it was documented that acupuncture can be effective in reducing the number of inflammatory acne lesions, as well as improving the quality of life for the participants of the study.
What areas to apply acupuncture for acne? Knowing or having an idea of which acupuncture points will be used when you go in for your sessions will give you a slightly greater understanding of what to expect for needle placement. It can also be a way to start a conversation with your acupuncturist before the session starts. Did you bruise or hurt an area of your body that may be used as an insertion point for a needle? Let your acupuncturist know.
So which acupuncture points are used for acne? The answer to this question is not as simple as it sounds. To showcase why let's take a look at the findings on acupuncture points used for acne based on a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. The systematic review we are going to be using explored 43 different trials. And, guess what? Not one used the same exact acupuncture points although some used similar combinations of points.
Let's take a look at ways the 43 trials had similarities among the points chosen for a few of the trials chosen acupuncture points:
Why so many potential options when it comes to acupuncture points for acne? Let's find out. . .
Why so Many Different Points for Acne
As we just saw, how essentially, seven different trials used different acupuncture points to treat the same health condition. Was one more superior than the other? Was there a wrong or right answer? No. Why? Because there are two ways acupuncture points are chosen by an acupuncturist:
Interview: An acupuncturist will conduct an interview to gather information about your health
Training: Training on taken by your acupuncturist leads to an understanding and knowledge of each point. From this knowledge also comes an understanding of how to interpret signals your body is sending out in relation to the principles and teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM.
So, at its heart, acupuncture treatment for acne is as unique and customized as the person seeking treatment.
How Many Acupuncture Treatments are Needed for Acne?
Just like how the acupuncture points for acne can differ from person to person. So can the number of treatment sessions that are needed. Remember the systematic review with 43 different trials? It found that there was a vast variation in the number of treatments used and the frequency of treatments received. Similarities that came across were:
Session length minimum: 20
Session length maximum: 1 hour
Number of sessions minimum: 4
Number of Sessions maximum: 15
Session frequency: weekly, twice a week, three times a week, and bi-weekly
So, again the key here is to take to your acupuncturist and find out what the best treatment plan, including the number of sessions and frequency, is suggested.
How Much is Acupuncture for Acne?
What can you expect to pay for acupuncture when treating acne? There are five aspects of acupuncture costs to consider to figure this out:
Cost per session
The cost per an acupuncture session ranges from $75-$160. Depending on the frequency of treatment you find best meets your needs, you may find yourself spending $280 to $1200 for weekly or bi-weekly acupuncture treatment. For more information, read: How Much Does Acupuncture Cost?
Cao, H. J., Yang, G. Y., Wang, Y. Y., & Liu, J. P. (2013). Acupoint Stimulation for Acne: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Medical acupuncture, 25(3), 173-194. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3689157/
Mansu, S., Liang, H., Parker, S., Coyle, M. E., Wang, K., Zhang, A. L., Guo, X., Lu, C., ... Xue, C. (2018). Acupuncture for Acne Vulgaris: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 4806734. doi:10.1155/2018/4806734. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5867647/
Son, B.-K., Yun, Y., & Choi, I.-H. (2010). Efficacy of ah shi Point Acupuncture on Acne Vulgaris. Acupuncture in Medicine, 28(3), 126-129. https://doi.org/10.1136/aim.2010.003004 Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20813813
Tanghetti E. A. (2013). The role of inflammation in the pathology of acne. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 6(9), 27-35.Retrieved February 27, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3780801/