Suffering from acne as a teenager through to her late twenties, Dr Vivian Tam is passionate about helping people overcome their skin problems.
As a matter of fact, the Melbourne-based Traditional Chinese Medicine practioner has released an all-natural herbal supplement, Zilch, specifically formulated to treat adult-acne from within.
SPA+CLINIC speak with Vivian about the differences between both skin conditions, and her thoughts on treating them holistically.
What is the main difference between teenage and adult acne according to Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Teenage acne is not usually caused by an abnormal imbalance as such, it’s a normal physiological change that the body goes through in the Chinese medicine cycle of life. Adult acne is usually from a disharmony or an imbalance somewhere.
What are the main causes of teenage acne?
According to Chinese medicine, teenage acne is usually caused by an excess “heat” in the body. Remember back to highschool when all the kids walked around in t-shirts all through winter? During the teenage years, the body can go through a “yang” stage (yin and yang. Yin = cool, yang = hot), and an excess heat produces in the body. This heat has to escape somewhere and can present as inflammation and pimples in the skin level.
What are the causes of adult acne, according to your discipline?
The most commonly accepted answers are “hormones” and “toxins” or “overgrowth of bacteria in the skin” or “excess production of oil and sebum causing congestion”. In Chinese Medicine, it can be due to a number of different disharmonies in the body. The main ones are:
1. Heat and toxins in the body: these toxins have to find a way out, so they vent through the skin and present as pimples. More than likely, the acne sufferer will have poor digestion – if the digestion is sluggish, the body does not clear toxins the way a healthy digestive system would. An imbalance of heat in the body can cause skin breakouts. A perfect analogy is the Earth’s core getting too hot, causing eruptions on the surface (volcanoes!).
2. Blood circulation: In Chinese Medicine good circulation integral to the optimum wellbeing of one’s health, and promoting healthy blood circulation for skin health is no exception. When there is blood stagnation (blockages) in the body, swelling and inflammation and build-up of toxicity can occur. To better understand this concept, imagine a blockage in a car engine – eventually this blockage will cause the car to overheat, and “blow up”, similar to the body accumulating inflammation and toxicity, causing breakouts.
What changes can adults make to their diet and lifestyle to prevent acne and also treat it?
- From a Chinese medicine point of view, stress and emotional stagnation plays a huge part in the production of acne. So, incorporate some stress relief in the form of meditation, yoga, exercise, hobbies etc- whatever helps balance stress and calm the body and mind down. Stress causes blockages which lead to adult acne.
- Reducing dairy and sugar intake can help a lot with reducing acne.
- Sleep is a big factor in skin health too. Making sure you’re sleeping the right times (between 10 – 6am) as according to the Chinese medicine body clock, there is a correct time to rest…It’s not just about getting 8 hours! if you dont replenish and rest your body at the right times, your body can become imbalanced and heat will accumulate in the body. Do you notice how sometimes when you haven’t slept well you get hot and sweaty and thirsty easily?
Can adults benefit from using topical acne treatments marketed to teenagers?
Adults suffering from acne should avoid anything that is harsh or stripping to the skin (alcohols, salycilic acids etc) as these dry the pimples out, but they also dry out your skin which may over produce oil to compensate for this dryness. They can also toy with the resilience of the skin, which may reduce the skin’s capacity to heal. Instead, look for natural products that are gentle to the skin, something that can help with inflammation, with no harsh chemicals.
As a doctor of Chinese Medicine, which healing modalities do you call on to treat adult acne?
I specialise in ‘cosmetic acupuncture’ and herbal medicine. Cosmetic acupuncture is a safe, gentle and natural anti-ageing practice to enhance beauty and wellbeing. Very fine needles that are made especially to be used for the face are inserted using different techniques on different areas of the face to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin to achieve a firming effect to the face.
Although it may sound like a relatively new idea, cosmetic acupuncture is supported by almost 5000 years of documentation (used by Emperors and Empresses) and has since then been refined and developed into a practice we can bring to modern Australia.
The treatment can be used to assist in softening lines and wrinkles, lifting sagging, increasing firmness and boosting blood circulation for that bright, even and glowing skin that everyone dreams of having. It also addresses your health and the whole body, so problem skin and acne can be eliminated.
Cosmetic acupuncture can help reduce acne scarring within weeks. The fine needles are used to break up blood stagnation that causes the hyper-pigmentation, stimulates the production of collagen to soften the pitting, and promotes increased healing in the area.
Can tell us about Zilch Acne Formula?
Since the majority of my patients see me for cosmetic acupuncture to treat their dermatology problems, I became very interested in how medicinal herbs can play a big role in anti-ageing and skin health. I started to see so many patients day in and day out with acne and inflammation and formulated a great formula to help my patients. This is where Zilch was born!
Zilch is a herbal supplement based on Traditional Chinese Medicine principles designed to treat adult acne.
Ingredients in Zilch Acne Formula promote and boost blood circulation to stop these deeper nodules from occurring in the skin, and promote skin healing.
*Over the past seven years, Dr Vivian Tam has built a loyal following as Australia’s leading Cosmetic Acupuncturist and acne whisperer. Based in Melbourne, Vivian is in high demand for her talents with an ultra-fine needle, travelling all around Australia as an educator in the industry, training aestheticians in the art of Constitutional Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture (Cosmetic Acupuncture). However, it’s her success rate in curing adult acne the Zilch founder takes the most pride in.