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Acne and Health: What Your Body Is Trying To Tell You With Pimples!

Skin Care, Makeup How-To: Tips & Tutorials, Fun Stuff
August 23, 2012
Composed by : Bun Bun

what your acne health_1

Recently, due to bad sleeping habits and being under immense stress, I have been experiencing serious acne on my face. Fortunately for me, there are no mega events to attend for this period; outbreak started a few days after the Nelly Furtado showcase. But at the same, I feel very sad every time I look in the mirror.

Horrible, horrible, angry, red pimples EVERYWHERE!!! Right cheek, left cheek, chinny-chin-chin, jawline, and even the forehead which rarely has any pimples. And the skin on the jawline is so dry and flaky! Dry?! What?? I’ve never had dry skin in my life before!

It’s timely that I recently came across an image showing vaguely how having acne on different parts of your face actually shows the condition of your internal organs. And I decided to do more research on it and put together this post for long-time sufferers of acne and as a reminder for myself to take better care of my health.

Before we start, have you ever wondered why you always get pimples in the same spot? Ever wondered why acne appears only on certain parts of your face?

If you’ve:

  • battled with acne all your life,
  • tried products from high-end to drugstore,
  • been recommended products by friends who have flawless skin anyway,
  • been conned by one too many scheming promoters who give you hope that their products will work miracles on your skin only to be disappointed time and again,

it’s probably time to analyze the underlying problems.

Many people believe that acne is product related. Why then is acne not equally dispersed all over the face?

More often than not, it’s not that the products you’ve bought don’t give you the perfect vision you have painted in your head of having skin like the poster girl. Poster girls have been airbrushed to perfection and even those in videos can be easily altered.

I recently had an interesting conversation with a friend who works in the movie editing industry and he told me how they trick audience into thinking everything is impeccable. You know those shampoo advertisements? Those with hair that glow and shine and twinkle in the light in slow motion? FAKE. ALL FAKE. Hahaha, but that’s another topic altogether and today we want to focus on why we keep having pimples despite all the expensive shizz we put on our face.

According to PubMed,

Acne is a skin condition that causes pimples or “zits.” This includes whiteheads, blackheads, and red, inflammed patches of skin (such as cysts).

Let us now analyze the causes of pimples on the different parts of your face and what your pimples are trying to tell you about your body.

Chinese physicians believe that our skin reflects the health of our internal organs. So by isolating areas in which acne happens, we can better understand our body.

Look at the areas highlighted in red (not the red dots all over the face!).

Disclaimer: Just like in my post on Eye Makeup for 14 Different Types of Asian Eyes, I could not find the real source of these images. You know, Chinese websites don’t give two hoots about crediting sources so these images can be found on many, many sites. Information was all over the place, so I placed the corresponding causes and solutions together with the visual representation.

Acne position #1: Hairline

Fa(3) ji(4) dou(4) translates to ‘pimples on the hairline’, or scalp acne, or scalp folliculitis.


Usually caused by improper and incomplete removal of makeup, infrequent hair and scalp cleanliness or use of hair-care products that block pores.

What to do:

  • Wash your face and hairline twice a day. Keeping your skin clean with soap and water can minimize oil production from your pores.
  • Make sure you remove all traces of makeup before you sleep. I recommend Biore Eye Makeup Remover
  • Exfoliate once a week
  • Shampoo your hair every day. If this dries out your hair too much, you can use a conditioner to add moisture. You can also use a medicated shampoo containing salicylic acid. Shampoo with salicylic acid is typically used to treat dandruff; however, salicylic acid is a topical acne medication that slows dead skin cells from shedding and clogging pores.

Acne position #2: Between brows

Causes: Pimples between the brows indicate an overloaded liver. People with pimples between the brows experience chest tightness, heart irregularity. May also be caused by bangs/hair fringe, as filth and bacteria accumulation from dirty hair stains the skin.

(I have bangs but I rarely have any pimples on the forehead or between the brows, except for now 🙁 )

What to do:

  • Avoid strenuous exercises
  • Get more sleep
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid foods that cause your skin to flare

GOODBYE WASABI PEAS!  (but they’re so yummy, you know~~~~ BOOOOO……!)

Acne position #3: Near eyes/nose

Causes: Pimples near the eyes and nose indicate poor liver function. You are probably very tired, sleep very little, and are under constant stress. Your diet lacks essential nutrients.

What to do:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables with high content of vitamin C (kiwi, sweet pepper, oranges) will help in providing you with a good mood.
  • Try to avoid eating late at night; especially right before bedtime as your body will not break down the food as effectively, leading to a toxin build up.
  • Love your liver by maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle, eating leafy greens, avoiding drugs, alcohol and smoking, and reducing your fat intake. (Do these not only for the pimples! It’s for your overall health!)

Lately I’ve been doing all of the above – keeping late nights, eating late at night, having little sleep, sleeping badly, under stress. Must love my liver more!

*grabs some grapes from the fridge

Acne position #4: Tip of the nose

Causes: Weak digestive system

What to do: What goes on, on your nose, is linked to your heart.

  • Eat less cold food. Cold foods causes gastic acid secretion.
  • Eat less pungent foods (spices, garlic, etc).
  • Eat less meat.
  • Massage the area around your nose.
  • Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin B

Acne position #5: Nose Wings

Causes: Sudden appearance of big, swollen pimples here may be associated with changes in reproduction system or the ovaries. Pimples on nose also indicate the problems of the cardiovascular system. The heart may lack vitamin B and protein. You have a very passive way of life, are constantly worried, and move very little. Your skin suffers from lack of nutrients and poor blood circulation.

What to do:

  • Eat less pungent foods (spices, garlic, etc)
  • Eat less meat
  • Eat warm temperature foods (not too cold or hot)
  • Get more fresh air
  • Exercise everyday (like going for a walk)
  • Massage the area around your nose
  • Make sure you are getting enough Vitamin B
  • Add more green vegetables and fruits, fish, various cereals to your diet. Do morning exercises or work out at least one hour a day.

Acne postion #6: Jawline

Causes: Poor lymphatic drainage. When your lymphatic system’s drainage becomes blocked, you cannot eliminate toxic material. Can also indicate hormonal imbalance in the sexual life. You might be nervous, sleep very little, drink much coffee or alcohol. Sometimes it might be a signal of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), so be sure to consult a doctor.

What to do:

  • Reduce the habit of eating before bed
  • Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Get more rest
  • Get your hormones checked
  • Get 20 minutes of exercise each day
  • Sleep early and wake up early
  • Massage your body for relaxation
  • Practice proper hygiene

Acne position #7: Lip area

Causes: Pimple on lip or shoulders means problems with digestive system. Have you noticed indigestion, intestinal colic or constipation? You are very sensitive and vulnerable, too worried about everyone and everything.

Include more food containing fiber in your diet. Have a cup of green tea after each meal.

  • Eat more fiber
  • Include more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet
  • Eat less spicy and fried foods
  • Massage abdominal area in a clockwise motion
  • Change your toothpaste

Acne position #8: Forehead

Causes: Outbreaks on your forehead can be caused by a toxin build up, usually related to poor digestion and lack of water. Pimples on forehead or above the eyebrow mean that your intestines are struggling to cope with their responsibilities. Your diet is most likely dominated by fats, soft drinks, red meat. Your body struggles to get rid of the extra toxins.

Pimples on the forehead is also affected by an overactive mind. (Bingo!)

What to do:

  • Drinking water helps to flush out the toxins in your body, so boost your water intake and have a look at the foods you are eating.
  • Minimize intake of fizzy drinks and high caffeinated drinks. Also look at switching to herbal teas, especially green tea!
  • Consume less chocolate, cakes, lemonade and Coke, drink more mineral water without gas. Eat food that helps eliminate toxins from the body: boiled cabbage, and baked apples.
  • Go to bed early (10pm) and wake up early (6am). Even if you can’t fall asleep. it’s good to relax so your liver can rest and be ready for work the next day (Pffft!! Tell me, in this internet age, who sleeps at 10pm?? I’m writing this sentence at 01:46, yo!)
  • 20-30 minutes of light exercise every day, especially outdoors
  • Practice relaxation techniques to worry less
  • Better hygiene (washing hair, hats)

Acne position #9, 10: Left cheek, Right cheek


Upper Cheek

Your upper cheek is linked to your lungs. Outbreaks here can be caused directly by smoking and passive smoking. The air you are breathing will show in this area of your face, so you are more likely to break out in this area if you are living in a highly polluted area.

If you sleep on the side of your face, or use your mobile phone on this side, the germs and dirt can be transferred and will clog your pores, causing breakouts.

Pimples on chest, as well as on the back and cheeks indicate the lungs’ overload. According to the Eastern medicine, the lungs accumulate unbalanced, heavy and viscous energy that does not find a way out.

Lower Cheek

Breakouts on your lower cheek can be an indication of poor dental hygiene. If you have any infections in your mouth, especially involving your gums, this will show on the outside too.

What to do:

  • Hygiene:
    • Change your pillowcase at least once a week, and wipe down your phone with an antibacterial wipe every few days.
    • Always keep on top of your dental health, brushing, mouthwash and flossing twice a day and regular check ups at the dentist at least twice a year! Don’t just wait until you have a dental problem to make an appointment.
  • Food:
    • Foods great for healthier lungs include, kale, sprouts and pumpkin.
    • Include fresh vegetables, oatmeal and brown rice in your diet.
    • Eat more cooling foods such as gourds, winter melons, and green beans
    • Don’t overeat
    • Avoid fast food and junk food
    • Avoid mango, taro root, wine, and seafood or other foods you may be sensitive to
    • Eat less sugar
  • Lifestyle:
    • Try to spend more time on fresh air every day.
    • Try to keep a positive mood
    • Don’t let your body overheat
    • Try to decompress and relax
    • The liver is the strongest from 1-3 AM. This is when you should be sleeping
    • The lung is strongest at 7-9 AM. This is the best time for aerobic exercise
    • The liver is weakest at 1-5 PM, so schedule difficult work for the morning
    • If you have to work in the afternoon, rest your eyes for 5 minutes every hour

Acne position #11: Chin

Causes: Your chin is linked to your small intestine, so a poor diet or food allergies could cause you to break out in this area.

Many women break out in this area around that time of the month. This area is related to your hormones, so any sudden changes or a hormonal imbalance, can cause breakouts here. These tend to appear a few days before you are due to start a period, and clear up once your period is over.

Pimples on the chin indicate hormonal imbalance in the sexual life. You might be nervous, sleep very little, drink much coffee or alcohol. Sometimes it might be a signal of PCOS, so be sure to consult a doctor.

  • Have enough sleep
  • Don’t pick at the pimples
  • Reduce the habit of eating before bed
  • Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Get more rest
  • Get your hormones checked
  • Get 20 minutes of exercise each day
  • Sleep early and wake up early
  • Massage your body for relaxation
  • Practice proper hygiene

Keep a Food Diary

Look at your diet. Are there any specific food groups, such as dairy, that when you eat, you suffer an uncomfortable digestion or breakout in this area? It could be worth keeping a food diary to see if you can pinpoint which foods trigger the symptoms and outbreaks, for example, you could have a form of lactose intolerance, affecting your digestion.

Do you eat many oily foods too? The oils from these foods can make quite a mess on your face when eating, so make sure you clean around your mouth properly after eating to stop any build up on the surface.

For me, it’s definitely wasabi peas and too much sweet snacks. And I am beginning to suspect my body is suddenly reacting negatively to milk. Really! The past few days I drank a lot of milk and it’s at this time that my skin condition deteriorated.

It’s really good for the health to avoid sugary, spicy and oily food, but for goodness sake, I’m living in Singapore!!! Food paradise!!! How can I say no to chilli crab, egg yolk crab, lala, zut zut, laksa, sambal stingray, char kway teow, fried hokkien mee, nasi lemak, rojak…

Just too hard… TOO HARD.

Acne and Me

Update: The Best Tricks That Worked For My Acne 

I’ve never had clear skin. Ever since I hit puberty, that is. Never had a day when the skin looked flawless. I always thought ‘pimples’ meant those red ones, so my acne positions are 6, 9, 10, 11. But now that I know acne includes everything from blackheads to cycts, it seems I’ve got 1-11 covered. @#&^%)&*!!!

Skin discoloration from recovering pimples are not as bad as those that are fresh, red, and show a bump. You can hide skin discoloration with makeup correctors, but bumps are just impossible to conceal.


  • Exercise. I dance at least once or twice per week. But maybe still not enough?
  • I sleep enough hours, just irregularly. Sometimes I sleep in the day, sometimes (rarely) I sleep at night. So the body’s confused.
  • Eating too much sweet stuff
  • Eating too much spicy food
  • Eating too late at night
  • Eating too many wasabi peas 🙁
  • Not eating enough fruit and vegetables
  • Sleep late, wake up very late
  • Dairy products?

Oh and I also have PCOS, confirmed by at least three gynecologists. Having acne comes with it. Part of the package.

What I will do:

  • Eat more fruit and vegetables
  • Eat less sweet stuff
  • No more wasabi peas
  • Don’t eat too late at night

Okie, I’ll start from these. I can’t promise to eat less spicy food and I know keeping a normal sleep routine is quite impossible, for now at least. I’ve also been seeing a TCM physician and been prescribed concoctions. Need to arrange for my next appointment!

Do you suffer from acne? For how long already? Any tips to share on combating acne?


22 thoughts on “Acne and Health: What Your Body Is Trying To Tell You With Pimples!”

Isabelle kelly says:

I had severe acne both on my face and back and after trying countless of dermatologists’ treatment options, I’d still found myself frustrated by my debilitating acne problem. I finally found a program that did a fantastic job of showing me the right way… The holistic way! After less than a month of following this natural remedy, most of my acne was gone.

Amanda says:

I’ve never had clear skin, then I read online that vegan diets helped, so I tried it out. Within two weeks I had zero pimples and my skin cleared. I think it has to do more with dairy than meat, but I have since avoided animal products and relied on a plant-based diet as much as possible. I am still flexible and eat dairy or meat when I visit someone’s house or when my only option is a stale salad (I am not the biggest fan of salad). I also can’t quite replace butter, but try to keep its use to a minimum. What has really changed 100% is milk; I never ever drink milk and stick to all the soy milk and creamers I can find (soy creamer is so yummy for coffee!). I have also really enjoyed the discovery of new recipes and the wonder of where our food comes from. It has made me more conscientious and I feel better for it! I hope this helps. What I have found is that no product or skin treatment is as important as diet (but no dermatologist ever told me this…).

Same here! I’m trying to eat healthier, discovering new recipes at the same time and minimizing use of cow’s milk. I’ve heard that coconut milk is ok, and so is almond milk. I really love milk + cereal and nothing tastes better than cow’s milk for this combo, which makes me really sad to have to give it up! But oh well.

personality_guru says:

Does anyone know why dairy causes acne? I’ve had acne since puberty as well, and I’ve also been drinking milk every day for my entire life…

i have them on side of my face mostly the side of my forehead and occasionally some above my eyebrows

Ashwaq Hilal says:

Thanks for this! I had acne and pimples problems since then. Glad that a friend recommends me a treatment in Marina Medical Centre.

Glad that you found something that works for you! =D

Rebecca says:

I had crazy amounts of cystic acne on my chin. I tried many things to get rid of them and then I cut dairy out of my diet. My acne cleared up immediately and has been clear ever since! Not eating dairy ever again is super worth it to have clear skin for the rest of my life! You might as well give that a try! But dairy must be eliminated completely. Read ingredient labels. Your body will love you!

Thanks for sharing! I previously believed too, as I was told, that dairy was causing my acne. So with great effort I stayed away from dairy yet there was zero improvement. After I switched to another doctor, my skin became better and now I have dairy as part of my diet every day. I cook and bake too, so I’m glad that now I can use butter, yoghurt, milk, and all the yummy things my previous doctor told me to avoid.

Snow Girl says:

I’ve 4,5, and 8, but mostly it’s just all over my nose and it has really affected my self esteem. Recently I see another huge acne and for a moment I really wanted to cry, or burn my face, or both. Hahas. But jokes aside, my acne problem have really bothered my and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better even though I’ve visited many doctors and tried different medicine. I’ve been troubled by my acne since I’m 14 and I am 21 now. :'(

rivierotter says:

Hi there, just to say that I went off diary and sugar for other reasons. Acne cleared up. Didn’t realise the connection until I started eating them again and – pimples.

Glad you found a cure! I tried to stay off dairy and seafood like one doctor suggested, but my acne didn’t improve. Now I eat those and my acne seems okie. Lol.

Christina says:

I’ve struggled with acne since I was 15. I’m 20 now and I still struggle with it. I have cut out dairy from my diet and I think that have helped a lot. There are a lot of hormones in dairy products, which can cause your skin to break out. I also think that foods that are high in sugar is bad for your skin, because it seems like every time I eat chocolate or cake, my skin always breaks out. And it’s sad because it’s so good! But what works for one person might not work for you.

Fiona says:

Hi Bun Bun,
I’m Fiona, nice to know you. I’m currently dealing with the beauty industry myself too. I came across your blog and read this post and I like how you share your experiences and those tips! Haha very interesting 🙂 Have your situations improved?

Ravi says:

I am Ravi. I from India and i am a boy aged 17years i have 2,5,7,8,9,10 and sometimes 11 types of pimples
what happen with me i don’t know but i suffer these problem form last 3 or 4 years please give me suggestions thank you.

Vedika Painjane says:

Do you drink chai? If you do, then that may be the problem, when I stopped drinking chai, my skin cleared up, so that may be the solution. I try to avoid eating biscuits and sugery items, as they seem to affect me too.

Nope. I don’t take caffeine at all.

Charlie says:

Hey guys,

I’ve had acne for the past year and a half and I am really getting tired of it, I have acne on positions 2, 8, 9, 10.

I eat pretty clean, i drink a ton of water as I also workout 5 times a week. I don’t smoke drink or do drugs and wash my face everyday. I do most of the tips given in the article but it just doesn’t seem to help. Is anyone able to help me ?:(

Gra Piken says:

Wheat and dairy! What more can I say? These two seem to effect my skin the most. The slightest bit of dairy and a few days later I will get pimples. I love cheese… So I feel sorry for myself! Wheat also seems to have an effect. How strange. The trouble is, wheat is in everything. But after giving up wheat I noticed my skin slowly started to improve.

I agree with the advice about caffeine, sugar and stress. I never thought about the liver before so I’m going to try eating earlier instead.

colashock says:

She did write this article a few years ago we shouldn’t be so harsh on her. It has to with hormones, thyroids, our internal organs (liver, heart, kidney, intestines, etc), stress, sleep pattern; Everyday life in general. I had clear skin until 28 my acne were cystic acne being Celiac I have Seborrheic Dermatitis, she should research more on “Scalp Acne & Scalp Folliculitis” it’s not from dirty makeup or not removing it properly along her hairline that gave her breakouts. Acne by the hairline is an inflammation caused by clogged pores from your makeup, hair products, allergic reaction or chemical sensitivities.(quoted by my dermatologist & naturopath) Shampoo scalp 3x/wk Conditioner ends only, dandruff hair should consult GP about salicylic shampoo if you have sensitive skin dries it out. I bought my dad 100%Pure kelp&mint shampoo helps w/dandruff, coconut conditioner moisturizing. I use Alterna Caviar Moisture line (free of sulph paraben, gluten) color my hair.

Wash your pillowcase, sheets, towels in hot water tumble dry once a week. Best time to exfoliate face + body is after bath time; if you have time males/females soak relax pamper ourselves 1. Dry Skin Brush upwards entire body eliminate harmful elements increase blood flow, add lavender oil w/epsom salt or any oil, no epsom salt np!! use baking soda does the same thing. Sore muscles or Fibromyalgia (like me) try Japanese Mint Oil; during detox week I splurge on Clay to do body wrap. (20 min) During bath, the steam opens up your pores I massage in circular motions on face (make sure you clean before bath, the best is to exfoliate). Out of the bath use ice-cube allover face to cool down follow with a Moisture Mask.
Sometimes its easier said than done, eat organic healthy lifestyle, replace sugar, instead of coffee have greentea in AM drink water w/lemon slices helps digestion & ease belly bloats. Only time I drink pop is tummy ache for gingerale I squeeze lime juice (learned in Jamaica). Berries are full of antioxidants best to snack on after workouts, best time to sleep is 11pm the latest (colon needs to rest along with our organs) my Colon Hydrotherapist explained to me in Hong Kong.

***Only use soap free Soap w/o Synthetic detergent to wash your face don’t use regular soap as she mentioned…I’ve been using Charcoal Konjac Sponge to wash my face from Japanese Konjac Sponge company (US) it’s the best and I bought another for body, when my face feels dry I switch to Citrus sponge known for hydration, for exfoliation I read in Japanese forum using Sparkling mineral water w/cotton pad to exfoliate, helps with my millia. Using konjac sponge you will notice difference, light toner, oil free moisturizer w/spf (day). (pack in makeup bag Clean & Clear blotting paper I barely use now; a mini bottle of Avenue spring water spray, sample moisturizer) after blotting > refresh water > moisturize w/spf (indoor lighting has UV) Face is oily ~ pls hydrate me skin is thirsty, once you start moisturizing using oil free product, keep up the cleaning for a month you’ll notice a huge difference. I never believed it, I have facial parties at my house now.

Sorry for long note. Hope all this helps. I am not here to make the world happy but it doesn’t hurt to try. Good luck

iko says:

Spoken like a true retard.

I and many others have benefited with these TCM acne mapping. SO it’s without evidence, or you’re too STUPID & LAZY to do your own research.

Learn Chines dweeb…then you’ll find loads of evidence. It is your OWN LACK of knowledge that is restraining your “evidence”.

IF I am going to spoon feed you wtih the evidence..it’s gonna costs you..

disqus_NmQvALx2CZ says:

Really? Astonishingly awful? Do you live under a rock by chance, or have you just never been exposed to anything real in your life? There are about a million things worse than expressing your opinion online without citing “evidence”, you really need to get your priorities straight guy. We’re talking about acne here (where, by the way, there are very few “facts” to begin with) not genocide or world wars for gawds sakes. Calm the **** down.

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