Acne Management - A TCM Treatment Programme

A holistic, natural approach to acne management personalised to your type of acne and root health causes. 


Most of the time, acne comes and goes away on its own. However, reoccurring, chronic acne can be frustrating; affecting one’s appearance as well as confidence. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) views our face and body as a mirror to our internal health. When problems manifest on the skin, such as having acne;  it signifies internal health imbalances. TCM treatments aim to address these imbalances serving as the root causes to acne.  Once they are resolved,  your acne will clear on its own and you will also experience improved overall health. 

At PULSE,  we offer a holistic and personalised approach to resolve acne and restore healthy skin. Our TCM physicians will:

  • Evaluate your acne, body constitutions and overall health
  • Diagnose the root health causes and contributing factors to your acne problems
  • Prescribe TCM treatments tailored to your type of acne and root causes


  • Controlled oil production
  • Reduction in acne
  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Improvement in complexion
  • Improvement in overall health

Causes of Acne

Acne forms when skin follicles become clogged with sebum (oil) and dead skin cells. When a pore becomes clogged, it can create a blackhead, which is a small, dark bump on the skin. When bacteria builds up and the clog becomes inflamed and infected, it leads to acne. 

There are many possible causes to acne, and the exact cause would vary among individuals. Some of the common causes are: 

  • Genetics: Some people are more prone to acne due to their genes.
  • Hormones: Hormonal changes can lead to acne; especially during puberty, pregnancy, and menstruation.
  • Diet: Some studies have shown that eating a diet high in processed foods and sugary drinks may increase the risk of acne.
  • Stress: Stress can trigger acne breakouts in some people.
  • Medications: Certain medications can cause acne as a side effect.

A TCM Perspective

TCM acknowledges the roles of the above factors on acne, but also holds the view that acne results from various health imbalances in the body and key organs connected to skin health.

Acne Face mapping

Where your acne appears can signal which organ systems are experiencing the imbalance. Your physician will use this information and others to guide your diagnosis. 

The following are some of the common TCM health imbalances that tend to trigger acne breakouts: 

1. Yin Deficiency
2. Liver Qi Stagnation
3. Heat Dampness
4. Lungs Heat

Note that this list is not exhaustive and there may be other types of imbalances not listed that can also contribute to acne. 

Various factors can give rise to these imbalances, from genetic factors, lifestyle, weather and the environment, dietary habits to life events (e.g. child birth, stressful events).

Each type of imbalance manifests in characteristic symptoms and signs in the person’s acne and general health. The shape and appearance of the acne, as well as the specific body area at which it appears, suggests the type of imbalance the person may have.


How Can TCM Help?

Initial Consultation

The programme begins with an in-depth consultation with our physicians, who will ask you questions pertaining to the triggers and history of your acne, diet and lifestyle. 

Your physician will also perform TCM diagnostic methods such as pulse and tongue examinations. This can reveal any health imbalances or issues. They will also examine the locations and the characteristics of your acne to confirm the type of imbalances you may have. 

Based on the information gathered from the consultation, your physician will form a diagnosis and tailor the treatments accordingly. 


Acupuncture involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to stimulate Qi, the body’s energy flow, and promote balance. The specific locations where the needles are inserted (acupoints) are chosen based on each individual’s unique health imbalances.  Clinical studies have proven acupuncture treatment to be effective in reducing acne. 

How can acupuncture help with acne?
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Regulating hormones, especially in hormonally-induced acne. 
  • Improving blood circulation as well as delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the face. 
  • Chinese Herbal Medication

    Your physician may also prescribe herbal medication when it can be helpful depending on your diagnosis.

    Certain herbs are commonly used to treat acne; possessing anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and hormone-regulating properties. The specific combination of herbs are prescribed based on each individual’s unique body condition and imbalances. 

    Diet & Lifestyles Changes

    As these factors can contribute to acne, TCM practitioners may recommend making some dietary and lifestyle changes when relevant.  Common ones include:

    • Diet: Reducing consumption of spicy food, ‘heaty’ food, or ‘cooling’ food. 
    • Lifestyle: Managing stress levels, getting adequate sleep.

    We aim to resolve the health imbalances that form root cause of your acne breakouts; bringing holistic improvements to your acne condition as well as overall health. 

    Case Study A

    • Female patient, in her early thirties, has relatively good skin except on her forehead where she has a lot of small pimples
    • After a consultation, Physician diagnosed that the pimples are mainly caused by her poor digestive system and frequent consumption of raw food
    • Acupoints used: LI11 曲池 ‘Qu Chi’, LI4 合谷 ‘He Gu’, KI6 照海 ‘Zhao Hai’, PC8 劳宫 ‘Lao Gong’
    • Patient’s acne was mostly cleared up by the 6th session

    Case Study B

    • Female patient, one of the more complicated cases in PULSE, has pimples appearing on different areas at different times.Sometimess around her T-zone, sometimes around her chin or cheeks.
    • Physician attribute cause of pimples to her highly-stressful lifestyle and consumption of spicy food.
    • Acupoints and medication prescribed are mostly for coping with stress. Acupoints used: LU11 少商 ‘Shao Shang’, LI1 商陽 ‘Shang Yang’, ST44 內庭 ‘Nei Ting’, LV3 太沖 ‘Tai Chong’, PC7 大陵 ‘Da Ling’
    • Patient recovered around the 10th session with occasional recurrent of small pimples. Currently started the second cycle of programme for maintenance.

    Note: Patients usually come in with a mixture of diagnostic patterns. No two patients will present the exact patterns nor will be treated with the same acupoints. 

    What to Expect

    Each session consists of a consultation with our TCM physicians and a treatment session. 

    To experience results, we recommend coming for at least 10 sessions. Below is a general estimate of progress. Note that it would vary person-to-person. 

    1st – 2nd session

    Depending on severity, for a start, patients may be required to come for treatments
    twice a week.

    3rd – 4th session

    This is when patients will experience the most significant improvement in skin condition.

    5th – 10th session

    It is important for patients to continue coming for treatments so as not to break the cycle of the healing process. Failure to do so may result in having to restart the treatment programme.

    If the acne has mostly cleared up by this stage, patients can choose to come only fortnightly to maintain the healing process.


    First Trial at $78*

    Inclusive of a TCM consultation and an acupuncture treatment session. 

    *Prices are exclusive of GST.
    To enjoy this trial price, please notify our clinic that you are coming for a trial session upon registration. Otherwise regular pricing will apply.   
    Herbal medication, other treatments, or additional acupuncture to address other ailments would be charged separately. 

    Credit packages are available in-clinic. Consult with your physician to find one that suits your needs.


    Does it hurt?

    Acupuncture needles are extremely thin and most people report barely feeling anything. Some others describe the prick of acupuncture needles as a tingling sensation or pressure around the insertion point. Post-treatment, some individuals may feel some soreness in certain areas where needles are inserted around the associated organ with blockages or imbalance. Generally, though, acupuncture sessions are designed to be relaxing. Many find the process calming or even fall asleep during treatment.

    Is it suitable for all acne types?

    This programme is most effective for skin with active acne and acne marks. For pitted acne scars, more cycles may be required to boost collagen production.

    Begin the journey to clearer skin and more confident you.

    Book your appointment with a PULSE Physician today.

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