What Your Acne is Trying to Tell You About Your Health

By Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Contrary to many people simply attributing acne to clogged pores or hormonal imbalances, acne in certain areas can actually indicate underlying health problems. This is called face mapping, an alternative-medicine practice of examining the location of acne on the face to determine health issues. Although mapping like this is not an exact science, finding out how and why acne occurs in certain areas can help tell you a little something about your health.

Dr. Roshini Raj, a certified gastroenterologist and cofounder of skincare line TULA, has mapped out what popular acne zones could be telling us about our health. There are lots of causes to acne, and many people don't realize that internal factorsfrom how much you sleep to the air you breathecan affect your complexion, says Dr. Raj. Great skin comes from taking care of both what you put on your skin and how you take care of your body, she adds.

Forehead Breakouts on the forehead are often caused by stress and poor digestive issues. It can also be triggered by topical factors such as hats and hair that sticks to the forehead. According to Dr. Raj, sleeping at least seven hours a day, drinking plenty of water, eating a balanced diet and minimizing friction on the forehead area by keeping hats and hair off can help reduce acne.

Cheeks Acne near the top of the cheek is associated with the respiratory system, whereas lower cheek acne is linked to poor dental hygiene and surface bacteria. For cheek acne, Dr. Raj recommends maintaining clean air at home and cleaning items that regularly come into contact with the cheek, such as cell phones, makeup brushes and pillowcases.

T-zone Acne located in the T-zone -- the area between the eyebrows down to the nose and chin -- are often triggered by gastrointestinal imbalances or food allergens. Specifically, acne on the nose is linked to the liver and kidney, which means a flushed nose or acne could signify high blood pressure or liver dysfunction. On dealing with T-zone acne, Dr. Raj has several tips. Some experts recommend reducing dairy, red meat and fast food consumption, and eating more leafy vegetables to improve your T-zone complexion, she says.

Chin Breakouts in the chin are caused by hormonal imbalances. As stated by Dr. Raj, opting for a regular sleeping schedule and a healthy diet, along with drinking spearmint tea and taking Omega-3 supplements are good options for tackling chin acne. Back, arms and thighs Back, arms, and thigh acne are often caused by hormonal fluctuations and genetics. The type of clothes we wear can also cause irritation to the skin and generate breakouts.

Dr. Raj suggests wearing clothes that are clean and not too tight, and to look out for lotions and soaps with pore-clogging ingredients such as natural oils. If the acne persists, changing clothing fibers is recommended.

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