Can Acupuncture Help With Your Teen’s Acne?

As a teen with PCOS, I had my share of acne struggles, so I know how hard it can be. And it’s no piece of cake on parents, either. Nothing pulls at our parental heart strings like seeing our kids suffer and while sometimes dismissed as a purely cosmetic issue, acne can have a major impact on self-esteem and quality of life. It’s actually closely linked to depression. When traditional remedies and medications seem to be failing it can be worthwhile to consider acupuncture.

To find out more about how this ancient practice can help, I turned to ORA’s acupuncturist, Dr. Sian James DACM, LAc, LMT, RYT.

Momtastic: What are the main causes of acne in teens specifically?

Dr. Sian James: Hormones, marvelous hormones are the cause of acne in teens! Good ol’ puberty hits and the hormonal changes stimulate the sebaceous (oil glands) it kicks these glands into overdrive due to hormonal changes. The excess oil clogs pores and with dead skin creates the perfect environment for hungry bacteria to feed. The skin tries to kill off the bacteria by stimulating the immune system and that further clogs the pores or creates comedones (pimples). Also teens love sugar and savory foods like pizza, fried and junk foods and this in excess feeds bacteria. Stress during teenage years also contribute to acne or breakouts. A calm and balanced nervous system helps decrease the effects stress plays on the skin.

Momtastic: At what point do you suggest a teen start acupuncture for their acne?

Dr. Sian James: As soon as there are signs of breakouts or inflamed skin. Acupuncture can help keep hormones balanced and decrease systemic inflammation. Acupuncture is also amazing at calming the nervous system during high periods of stress.

Momtastic: How often and for how long should a teen expect to need the treatments? Or is it ongoing to prevent it from coming back?

Dr. Sian James: Acupuncture is all about balance so treatments should be consistent to maintain that internal balance which will help clear up skin externally. 1x per week for 4-6 weeks is a good starting point then tapering down once it’s under control to 2x’s per month then 1x per month.

Momtastic: Can you give us an idea of cost?

Dr. Sian James: Our teen intro sessions (for new guests): $130

Essential teen sessions: $120 

Momtastic: Any other things that acupuncture could help teens with? 

Dr. Sian James: Acupuncture can help with stress from academic or social life during teenage years. It helps with balancing mood and energy as well. Acupuncture can help with focus or clearing brain fog. Acupuncture is great for sleep conditions and digestive issues.

Image: Getty

Momtastic: What about babies/toddlers? 

Dr. Sian James: Babies and toddlers can receive pediatric acupuncture. There are techniques like shoni shin which works more with acupressure than needles for toddlers. Children as young as ages 2 and up can receive gentle tui na, gua sha, and Chinese herbal medicine that is dosed by their weight.

Momtastic: Anyone who should not try acupuncture? 

Dr. Sian James: When in doubt, always have clearance from your primary care provider if there is a question whether acupuncture should be avoided. Acupuncturists are trained to know what conditions are contraindicated and would refer out accordingly or adjust treatment. 

Momtastic: Any tips for a child who might be afraid? 

Dr. Sian James: The needles are nothing like needles that are used for vaccines or drawing blood. They are super thin, actually as thin as a strand of hair! They may elicit a slight sensation when being inserted but that feeling goes away and many people actually are able to relax with needles during treatment and even fall asleep. Acupuncture is very gentle and relaxing.

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