Summer skin series #1: Blemishes, freckles and sunspots

Beautiful smiling woman with freckles and blemishes

Introduction

Even if blemishes and freckles usually don’t refered when we talk about skin ageing, consitute a big indication of this. Blemishes, freckles, uneven skin tone, pigmentation, sun damage or age spots show how well the skin controls ageing. Changes of seasons can affect the appearance of our skin and especially during summertime where the skin responds to the change of the weather. Our skin faces a lot of challenges from our internal and external environment and they are ways to address blemish prone skin, freckles, sun damage, pigmentation and overall skin health in a natural, safe and effective way.

What are blemishes and freckles?

Blemish prone skin is causing a concern, especially having a sensitive skin during the summertime months. Blemishes are discoloured areas or acne-like marks on the skin, mostly affecting women of all ages. They appear in all types of skin and genetic profile. Some types include, sunspots, freckles, moles, liver spots and have different size and appearance. There are many triggers affecting the skin, internal as well as external especially during summertime.

Some of the contributing causes are insufficient sun protection, warm temperatures, clogged pores, hormonal fluctuations, contraceptive measures, pregnancy, aesthetic treatments, cosmetics, certain photosensitive medications, or ingredients. In addition, stress, genetic factors and skin hygiene play a crucial role in the formation of blemish-prone skin. Some people confuse blemishes with acne spots and try to find solutions that may not be suitable.

Acne can progress in a blemish; however, it may have different causes and different treatment requirements. Blemishes vary in appearance and size. They can be a raised pimple, such as an acne spot, that may feel painful, skin discoloration, especially with sunny weather, or localised skin dryness and even itchy rough skin patches. Freckles do tend to increase and be more noticeable as we age. With time the skin loses strength to protect itself from the environment, so it gets increasingly prone to pigmentation issues especially with accumulation of long-term sun damage.

The sun affects the skin in many ways and interferes with melanin production and regulation, as well as it triggers enzymes that break down collagen fibres and compromise skins immune system and the appearance. Sun exposed skin is also sensitive to certain chemical compounds present in cosmetics and skin care that may react with sunlight and trigger pigmentation. Some photosensitive chemicals include essential oils (e.g. Bergamot, cumin, ginger, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange), perfumes, colours, as well as certain skin treatments and medications.

Acid peels, lasers, micro-dermabrasion, or prescription medications (retinoid acid, antibiotics, contraceptives) may be a way to treat the appearance of blemishes, however, are not recommended for long term use. During summer months, aesthetic resurfacing treatments require an extremely strict aftercare with minimal to non-sun exposure as the stripped treated skin, may aggravate blemishes and further pigmentation. Skin with pre-existing inflammatory conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, dermatitis, can also aggravate an overly sensitive to blemishes and freckles.

How to protect your skin – preventing blemishes and freckles

Young woman wearing a straw hat protect herself against sun

Skin issues do become a concern as we age as they tend to be more noticeable. Many aesthetic treatments and prescription medications could be employed but often lead to worsening of the problem long term. Acid peels or laser treatments are highly effective to get rid of freckles or any skin imperfections, however, pigmentation and uneven skin tone tend to get back worse, especially with not strict post care skin protection and care, which is difficult, especially summertime months. Harsh aesthetic skin treatments, usually help pigmentation and blemish-prone skin, are suitable during late autumn and winter months where there is not much sun or sunny holidays planned.

Chinese medicine treats the skin in a holistic way, perceiving the skin as a part of a whole system rather than a surface. It investigates the underlying causes of skin concerns and alleviates blemish-prone skin with an internal as well as topical solutions.

How to relief from blemishes and freckles

Prevention and natural way of addressing the underlying causes and finding the right methods to get rid of blemished-prone skin is an important aspect of Chinese medicine. The skin is perceived as an organ that communicates with its internal and external environment. Herbal medicine, supplementation as well as acupuncture are methods that can be used alone or in combination for noticeable, long-lasting results.
Chinese medicine identifies the internal patterns that affect the skin and produces a tailored made herbal prescription and facial acupuncture protocol to treat sun damaged and blemished skin. The strategy of the treatment plan, strengthens the skin against free radicals, detoxify, regulates hormones, boosts skin immunity, improves microcirculation, regenerates skin ability to repair, produces more collagen and controls pigmentation.

Natural herbs within a bespoke herbal prescription or used alone, that we use in Chinese medicine to help with freckles and blemishes include, Mulberry (controls melanin production, antioxidant), Licorice (protects skin cells, antioxidant/anti-inflammatory/ brightening), Green tea (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, protects from sun damage), turmeric (anti-inflammatory, skin cell protection, preventing pigmentation).

In addition to herbal treatments, facial acupuncture regains skin regeneration ability and addresses pigmentation and skin imperfections.

TCM and facial acupuncture

Treating skin conditions with acupuncture, or has been a long documented and belongs to the category of external treatment in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The causes of blemishes and pigmentation conditions are related to external factors as well as disturbance of energy or Qi and blood circulation. Freckles and pigment problems may indicate disharmony of Liver, Spleen and Kidneys. Acupuncture considers all causes into a treatment strategy and works topically to address the concerns. It is safe, natural, simple and has very efficient results, up to 95.6% in some cases. .

Other studies on acupuncture in relation to pigmentation skin issues have been significantly promising compared with conventional treatments with oral tranexamic acid, vitamin C and E, vitamin C and tamoxifen, topical 20% azelaic acid, hydroquinone or vitamin A, either with a better cure rate or with a better combined cure rate and markedly effective rate. A facial acupuncture protocol considers the underlying causes of skin imperfections and treats the skin topically to allow better oxygenation, detoxification and noticeably regulates pigmentation, sun exposed skin, blemishes and freckles.

Summary

The skin is a mirror that reflects our health and wellbeing and responds to changes inside our bodies as well as to our environment. With a lot of skin concerns related to immune system abnormalities, gland issues, blood vessel disorders, skin viral, bacterial or fungal infections, skin structural issues and so many other causes, Chinese medicine has developed a whole department of treating dermatological conditions of any kind with encouraging results.