There is a plethora of products out there aimed as banishing breakouts. But getting rid of acne isn’t always as easy as using a killer spot treatment or changing up your skincare regimen. Sometimes, acne is caused by an internal problem and will only clear up after that problem is fixed.
The best example of this is stubborn hormonal acne; however, there are actually quite a few internal health issues that can manifest themselves as blemishes.
According to some alternative medicine practices, where your acne shows up can give you important clues about your internal health. The practice, called “face mapping,” examines the location of skin diseases on the face to diagnose internal diseases.
“It is based on Ayurveda practices and ancient Chinese medicine, and its principles have started to be integrated into some Western medical practices,” explained Dr. Michael Shapiro, board-certified dermatologist and Medical Director and Founder of Vanguard Dermatology.
Here, Dr. Shapiro maps out what eight acne hot zones could be trying to tell you about your health. Keep in mind, having a pimple or two in one of these areas doesn’t automatically mean you have a serious health issue.
But if you have chronic acne that you can’t squash no matter how hard you try, it might be worth asking your doctor to look into a potential internal link.
Forehead: Poor digestion due to toxins and lack of water. “The solution is to drink water to flush out these toxins,” Shapiro explained. Drink water throughout the day and avoid fizzy and caffeinated drinks as much as possible. Cozying up to a big mug of green tea may be helpful, too, since it’s packed with antioxidants that neutralize toxins.
T-zone: Your nose is linked to the liver (alcoholics and those with liver damage from causes like cancer sometimes develop a red nose), so acne here could potentially signify liver dysfunction.
Around the eyes: “The skin in this area is connected to the health of the kidneys,” Shapiro says. Conditions like dark under-eye circles may signify that the kidneys are malfunctioning or that you’re dehydrated.
Upper cheeks: The tops of the cheeks are linked to the lungs. Inhaling air pollution can contribute to this. Externally though, bacteria on the surface of your cell phone or sleeping on a dirty pillowcase can be big culprits.
Lower cheeks: Poor dental hygiene. “Problems in the mouth, especially those involving the gums, will be visible here,” Shapiro says. Regularly brushing, flossing and avoiding sugary foods and drinks will improve oral hygiene and blemishes associated with it.
Nose: Your nose is also linked to your heart. “Swelling or bulbous changes of the nose signify high blood pressure,” notes Shapiro. To remedy this, diet modification is key. Avoid energy drinks, reduce salt intake and eat more fruits and veggies to promote heart health and low blood pressure.
Ears: The ears are also associated with the kidneys—breaking out here may signal dehydration. Make sure to drink more water throughout the day, and avoid consuming excess salt.
Chin: Linked to the small intestine. Again, diet changes can make a huge difference. “One should stay away from dairy products and oily meals,” Shapiro said. Adopt healthier eating habits, specifically ones that include more fruits and vegetables, to keep digestion running smoothly and nixing related skin problems.