What Does Acne Reveal About Your Health? | Acne Face Map

acne and health

Many times we try to treat our acne by using topical spot treatments, but these products only provide temporary relief. Sometimes what our acne is telling us is that it is caused by internal health issues which we need to address.

Acne is an infection under our skin that gets inflamed by our immune system. Knowing the reasons why we get acne on the outside can help us fix what is going on inside our bodies.

Acne Face Map | What is Your Acne Telling You?

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Face mapping or “face reading” combines old techniques from Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as well as new dermatological techniques to explain the underlying causes of acne.

In Chinese it is called “Mien Shaing” which translates to “reading the face”. Because some areas of our face and body do not have correlating medical evidence to show a connection with Chinese acne face maps, some information from these maps have been left out.

If we are having internal issues within the organs in our body they often show up as inflammation in the form of skin issues on our face and body. This inflammation can be in the form of acne, dry skin, discoloration, and various different rashes.

Face maps for acne can be helpful for males and females.

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Zone 1 & 2 : Upper and Lower Forehead

Associated with: Lifestyle

Most forehead pimples and acne on temples may be bacterial and may indicate that we are eating an unhealthy diet, not getting enough sleep, or have poor hygiene. 

Some pimple face maps show a correlation between the forehead and liver functioning, but because there is no scientific proof to actually connect this part of the T-zone it has not been added to the face map.

Our behaviors, specifically how people are prone to touching their T-zone as shown in one study (1), are a more likely cause of this acne.

How Can We Prevent Forehead Acne?

  • Drink plenty of water to detox our body and keep toxins and waste from building up.
  • Reduce our soda, sugar, and high-glycemic carbohydrate intake.
  • Take a shower right after a workout.
  • Wash hair, hats, bandanas, headbands, and any type of head gear.

Zone 3: Between the Eyebrows

Associated with: liver

This area can indicate that we are drinking too much alcohol, eating a diet too high in trans fat, or that we have a food allergy.

Many people experience acne in this spot of their face due to certain foods they eat. Some doctors will argue that diet has little effect on acne, but there are studies showing there is a correlation between acne and diet.

Some trans fats for example have negative effects which reduce the amounts of essential fats in our body which hurts our overall health showing up on our skin.

An example showing a correlation between the liver and this region of the body is that a side effect of liver problems is shown through a yellowing of the eyes called “jaundice.”

Between the eyes is also part of your T-Zone which is the center of your face including your forehead, nose, and chin; these spots usually tend to be oiler than other parts of the face.

As with forehead acne, between our eyebrows is an area that is prone to lifestyle decisions when we do not clean our skin properly or have sweaty hair in our face.

Zone 4: Under and Around the Eyes

acne and liver

Associated with: kidneys and liver

Small bumps that look like pimples are common around the eyes including milia, xanthelasma, syringoma which occur from clogged pores, high levels of fat in the bloodstream, and excess growth of sweat glands.

Lupus patients with diminished kidney function for example are more likely to have these acne like formations called milia under their eyes (2).

Milia are often mistaken for acne from their similar appearance; they differ in that they have a small white appearance that cannot be popped like a zit can.

If you have dark circles under your eyes this could indicate that you are dehydrated. Ways to avoid dehydration include avoiding diuretics which flush water out of our system, drinking too much water which lowers sodium levels, and being sure to drink enough water in general.

Zone 5: Nose

Associated with: heart

The nose is possibly associated with issues concerning the heart, specifically high blood pressure. Evidence of this possibly being true is shown in one study that showed a correlation between nose bleeds and heart attacks (3).

Folate, Vitamin B6, and B12 are three of the B vitamins that we should include in our diet as they are known for having positive effects on our heart health like reducing heart disease and stroke. These vitamins help reduce levels of homocysteine which is a type of an amino acid in our blood.

Folate from natural food sources like spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower are also excellent to consume for heart health as well for skin health as these foods help fight acne by eliminating toxins from our body (4).

The nose can get extremely oily and is prone to breakouts. Many of us also have a habit of touching our nose with our hands which can spread oil and bacteria which can clog our pores.

Zone 6: Ears

Associated with: kidneys

Our ears also share a connection to our kidneys which is shown in a type of ringing in the ears named Tinnitus which is caused by weakened kidneys (5).

Long term high blood pressure is a common cause of kidney disfunction; high blood pressure negatively effects kidney functioning as it weakens the kidney’s filtering mechanism.

The ears can also indicate that we are not drinking enough water. Dehydration can be caused by a diuretic such as prescription and OTC drugs such as coffee, alcohol, and water pills.

A lack of hydration has other side effects within the body other than effects on our skin including raised blood pressure, fatigue, high cholesterol, digestive disorders, and allergies.

Zone 7: Cheeks

Associated with: respiratory system

If you are a smoker you may develop acne as smoking can deprive oxygen to the skin. This is not the case for all smokers, but studies have shown that smoking may cause acne (6).

The cheeks can also be affected by acne rosacea which is caused by dilated blood vessels in the skin giving a red and flushed appearance. Smoking, spicy foods, and extreme weather can make rosacea worse.

Rosacea can also be characterized by tiny dots that look like pimples on the cheeks that won’t go away. Unfortunately rosacea does not go away, but there are natural and prescription ways to suppress it.

Our cheeks are also affected by acne as this is the spot where make-up, oily creams, and cosmetics are applied.

Many cases of cheek acne are caused by not removing make-up or not changing our pillowcases which harbor germs and bacteria which are a few ways how to get rid of acne on cheeks.

Zone 8: Sides of Chin

Associated with: reproductive organs

Acne on the sides of the chin indicate a hormonal imbalance in our body. These hormonal changes can be caused by puberty, menstrual cycles, menopause, and sometimes PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome).

Drugs that cause hormonal imbalance include hormonally involved drugs such as birth control for women and testosterone injections for men.

Hormone fluctuations can also be caused by diet (specifically sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrate intake) as well as a lack of sleep and stress. This leads to an increase in oil (sebum) production from our skin which can lead to these infections of the hair follicle below our skin.

If you want to know how to get rid of chin acne, some easy ways to start are by decreasing your carbohydrate and sugar intake, practicing good hygiene, and getting plenty of sleep.

Zone 9: Bottom of Chin

Associated with: stomach

Pimples on the jawline and bottom of our chin can indicate that we are experiencing issues with our digestive system like constant gas, bloating, and irregular bowel movements (sounds gross but it happens!).

Numerous digestive conditions are known to give issues in and near this area of the face as shown in this study.

To reduce these symptoms for chin acne treatment it is helpful to take a fiber supplement after meals either in capsule or powder form to improve digestion.

Fiber can also aid in weight loss as it helps stabilize our blood sugar levels as well as keeping us full after our meals so we do not over-eat.

Body Acne Map

I Get Body Acne Too, What Is It Telling Me?

Just as we use an acne face map for figuring out what issues are giving us breakouts on our face, we can use body mapping to figure out what issues are making us break out on our body as well.

Pimples on our body can be in numerous places including the scalp, neck, back, chest, arms, torso, butt, groin, and between our legs and thighs.

body acne map
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Zone 1: Neck

Associated with: hormones

Neck acne may indicate hormonal imbalances in our body which can be seen for example in menopausal women.

Other reasons for breakouts in this area may be caused by irritation from hair products, shirts with tight collars, and sweating.

Zone 2 & 3: Shoulders

Associated with: hormones 

Shoulder blemishes may mean that we are dealing with hormonal acne which is commonly seen in men looking to bulk up by taking anabolic steroids.

Another reason not associated with hormones that people get shoulder acne is from a combination of sweating and handbag/backpack straps which cause friction against our skin.

Zone 4: Chest

Associated with: Liver and digestive system

Our digestive system controls the levels of good and harmful bacteria in our body which may cause skin irritations, including on our chest. We can help strengthen the positive effects of the good bacteria (flora) by taking over the counter probiotic supplements.

People with severely weakened liver function such as jaundice are known to also experience a rash on their chest (7) in some instances which may show a correlation between the liver and chest.

Pimples on this part of the body are most commonly caused by either tight clothing that is not breathable or different types of body wash and soaps that we use. Chest acne can also be caused by a fungal infection or allergies.

If you have ruled these causes out then these breakouts may be caused by a poor diet including excess sugar and bad carbohydrate consumption (cereal, bread, desserts).

chest acne

Zone 5 & 6: Arms

Associated with: vitamin levels

Pimples on our arms occur usually because of overactive oil glands which produce too much sebum and infect our hair follicles as well as clog our pores (8).

We also may be experiencing something called keratosis pilaris which are tiny pimple-like bumps and small rough patches on our arms.

Keratosis pilaris occurs when we have an excess of keratin build up which is a substance that protects our skin from harmful substances. They do not hurt or itch but can be hard to get rid of and while it is not acne many people can mistaken it for pimples.

Usually this skin condition is a sign of vitamin A, D, and K2 deficiency so it is important to incorporate these vitamins into our diet and supplement them as well.

These small red bumps that resemble acne on our arms can also be a sign that our bodies are having difficulty digesting gluten.

Gluten is a type of amino acid found in most breads that can cause havoc for those who have a sensitivity to gluten or celiac’s disease.

Zone 7: Stomach

Associated with: lifestyle

Breakouts on the stomach are rare because of a lack of oil glands in this area, but can be caused by tight fitting clothes and fabrics that may irritate the skin.

If you exercise or sweat a lot you can experience breakouts especially if you shave your stomach as the hair follicles are more prone to getting clogged with dead skin cells and bacteria.

Zone 8: Groin & Crotch

Associated with: hygiene, shaving, STDs (sexually transmitted diseases)

This area of the body is the most susceptible to moisture and warmth which can make acne here prevalent as that is how bacteria thrives. It is important to make sure to keep good hygiene by showering daily and changing your clothes.

Tiny pimples may arise after shaving or waxing in this area especially if we use an old razor or regular soap. Try to use a good razor and use soap that is specially designed for shaving.

If these bumps do not show improvement within 4-5 days then it may be possible that it is some type of STD.

You can tell the difference between STDs and acne as STDs are characterized by bumps that are itchy and pus-filled (9).

Zone 9 & 10 – Thigh and Legs

Associated with: Sensitive skin

According to some doctors, thigh and leg acne is more likely to be caused by external factors (10) as opposed to internal factors which are more likely to effect the face.

Creams and body lotions can irritate the skin and cause skin sensitivities like acne in some people. Irritating types of clothing for this area of the body include pants and shorts that don’t allow their legs to breathe.

Examples of this include leggings and tight fitting jeans, especially when worn in warmer climates.

Shaving can also cause ingrown hairs which cause blemishes like acne in that they are red and bumpy.

Zone 11 & 12 – Shoulders, Upper, and Lower Back

back acne steroids

Associated with: hormones

Steroid users looking to bulk up and improve performance take these synthetic hormones which cause hormonal fluctuations from increased testosterone and estrogen that are well known for giving someone zits on their upper back region.

Breakouts on this part of the body are also called “backne”. This can be caused by sweating, not showering after exercising, and body lotions that clog pores and irritation from body soap.

Many times these pimples are brought on by acne mechanica as well which is acne that is caused by friction between the skin and sweaty clothes, headbands, or hats. This type of breakout is common amongst sport players and is often called “sport induced acne”.

Zone 13: Buttocks

Associated with: digestive system

The buttocks are another region that may possibly be effected by autoimmune issues such as gluten consumption resulting in acne like bumps.

Hidradenitis Suppurativa or HS is an autoimmune issue that causes breakouts of boils on different parts of the body including the buttocks and takes at least two months to go away.

Our butt is also of course susceptible to acne from tight fitting clothes and unsanitary conditions.

Make sure to keep your body and clothes clean and decide what type of diet you should be eating for proper skin care.

So Are Acne Face Maps and Body Acne Charts Legit?

Keep in mind that face and body mapping is only somewhat backed by scientific evidence as referenced at the end of this article and is more of a general guideline that may not apply to everyone as people have individual sensitivities.

It is also important to mention that although cheek acne for example is correlated with hormonal acne, correlation does not necessarily mean causation as acne can come from other origins.

An example of this can be shown in how someone can get hormonal acne on their chin, while others get it in between their eyes. Acne that appears on our face and body still does though indicate that there is an imbalance in our bodies that we need to address.

How Can Someone Fix These Issues?

We must address our acne both internally and externally to reduce the amount of breakouts on our face and body. This means that just topically attacking this issue will not bring the best results possible as living an all around healthful life is necessary to have the best possible skin.

No matter where acne is on our face or body we should always be drinking enough water, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and have good hygiene. These things are common sense but are often overlooked even though they can make a big difference in the appearance of our skin.

Hormones and other internal issues can be a little trickier to combat as women especially are affected more by hormones than men as they have to deal with menstrual cycles, menopause, and pregnancy.

Men who take testosterone boosting drugs and supplements like steroids and prohormones also cause a hormonal imbalance as when testosterone is raised it causes androgenic effects such as oily skin and hair growth.

Interestingly, testosterone converts into estrogen in our bodies which means raising our testosterone levels also causes an imbalance in estrogen levels which is why men can grow breasts when taking anabolic steroids. Estrogen blockers are helpful for this and could help stop breakouts as well.

When boys reach puberty they also have a similar hormonal imbalance as when older men take steroids which is why they are known to suffer from acne.

How Long Does it Take to Change Hormones, Diet, and Lifestyle?

These changes will not happen over night because that is obviously unrealistic. Changing our habits to improve our body takes time and we should not get discouraged.

It may be best to start changing little things one at a time for optimal success. For example, substitute one unhealthy snack for a healthy one or start going to bed a little earlier.

You could also start every day with yoga, stretching, or schedule in some time for a 10-30 minute brisk walk as exercising reduces the possibility of breakouts as well. Exercise helps to increase circulation in our body and deliver oxygen to our skin cells.

These small changes can be beneficial in the long-term for having healthy skin and a healthy body.

It can also be beneficial to see a doctor to test you for other causes of internal issues by getting tested for issues such as allergies and for toxins such as heavy metals.

When Should I Try Different Treatments?


Many people do not receive enough essential nutrients through their diet which is why it may be a good idea to supplement with them.

The most important over the counter acne supplements to take are:

  • Fish oil
  • Vitamins
  • Probiotics
  • Greens supplement

You will get all of your important vitamins, amino acids, nutrients, and essential fats which are necessary for healthy immune system. They may also help control hormones, inflammation, redness, and skin elasticity.

Topical Treatments

Although topical treatments are not a long-term solution for getting rid of acne they can definitely provide temporary relief especially for minor breakouts.

Treatments like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, and tea tree oil help to kill existing bacteria that is associated with acne. These treatments can help reduce inflammation and redness in existing blemishes as well.

Face Wash

The type of face wash you choose can either help or hurt your skin. It is best to choose a wash that does not contain oil or fragrance as these ingredients can aggravate our skin.

Exfoliating face washes are beneficial for getting rid of dirt and dead skin, but be aware of the ingredients as microbeads can cause damage to the skin when used too roughly. These tiny beads are actually made out of plastic and have been shown to cause damage to marine life.

Should I See a Doctor For My Acne?

Sometimes we need to seek professional help when all other options have been exhausted. 

A dermatologist can be very helpful in prescribing the best medication pills and topical treatments for your specific breakout and skin type.

Acne medications are usually antibiotics which can work temporarily, but after a while our body builds up a resistance to them as they may not be as effective.

While some people have great success with these medications they may come with negative side effects like extremely dry skin, dry mouth, rash, and dizziness.

A doctor may even prescribe birth control pills for women if their acne is really bad to help control their hormones.

When Will I Start To See My Acne Clear Up?

If you take care of your body day in and day out by following a good skin care routine, drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods like vegetables, protein, and carbs containing fiber (low-glycemic) then you may see a change in existing breakouts as well as the amount of breakouts you get.

Diet is the most important factor as certain foods contain essential nutrients and vitamins which can help aid in reducing inflammation, redness, and help improve skin elasticity.

By using supplements as directed we can improve certain vitamin deficiencies which will also help our acne clear up more quickly.


acne face map
body acne map
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  • References:
  • 1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24808112
  • 2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12184671
  • 3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19635281
  • 4. https://chriskresser.com/folate-vs-folic-acid/
  • 5. http://www.edgarcayce.org/are/holistic_health/data/prtinn3a.html
  • 6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835905/
  • 7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2431503/
  • 8. http://www.livestrong.com/article/515932-pimples-on-the-upper-arms-that-wont-go-away/
  • 9. http://buddymd.com/distinguishing-herpes-genital-pimples
  • 10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chloracne
Frequently Asked Questions
Can acne be a sign of something serious?

Acne isn't always caused by clogged pores or hormonal imbalances without a second thought, blemishes in certain areas can actually indicate serious health problems that will only clear up once the problem is fixed.

What organ causes acne?

The kidneys create blood while the liver holds it. The health of these two bodily organs impact one's hormones and hence effect an acne breakout and a woman's periods.

What does acne on the cheeks mean?

Acne popping up on your lower cheek, jawline, and chin is known as a “hormonal pattern.” Pimples in these areas is often caused by your skin's oil glands overreacting to hormones, which can be caused by factors such as anxiety, sugar or dairy, or normal hormome fluctuations.

Does location of acne mean anything?

An abundance of sebum can cause acne. Extra oil production can mean that breakouts occur more often in these areas than other parts of the face. Young people with have more acne around the U-zone, which covers the cheeks and chin, than in the T-zone.

How do you get clear skin?

1)Wash your face before bed!
2)Try an oil-absorbing moisturizer.
3)Don't sleep on sudsing.
4)Wash off ALL your cleansers.
4)Don't skip your morning full body wash.
5)Use cleansing brushes.

What foods cause acne?

Refined Grains and Sugars. ...
Dairy Products. ...
Fast Food. ...
Foods Rich in Omega-6 Fats. ...
Foods that increase testosterone

How can I have nice skin?

1.Never, ever go to bed with makeup on. ...
2.Use a ton of TLC to remove your eye makeup. ...
3.Drink plenty of water morning to night. ...
4.Add an antioxidant serum to your daily routine. ...
5.Use a face cream and sunscreen combo every day. ...
6.Always sleep on a clean pillowcase. ...
7.Never lay in a tanning bed. ...
8.Don't pick at your skin.