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Patient Buzz: Is There Any Truth to Acne Face Mapping? The Expert Weighs In

An ancient Chinese theory of acne is gaining popularity in the consumer media. Acne face mapping is the idea that the placement of acne breakouts on the skin reveal the location of health issues occurring inside the body. Consumer lifestyle website Refinery29 wrote an article recently about acne face mapping, which claimed acne in certain locations as signs of imbalances in the digestive systems and organs, such as the lungs, kidney and colon.

How should you respond if a patient asks about face mapping or an acne map? 

For an expert opinion, I consulted dermatologist, researcher and author Leslie Baumann, MD, FAAD. Dr. Baumann, who practices in Miami, is also CEO of Skin Type Solutions, Inc.

Is there any truth to acne face mapping? No. Face mapping is not backed up by any kind of scientific data. In my experience, there is no link between the location of acne and issues within the body. The only exception is acne along the jaw line, which is often associated with a hormonal issue (hormonal acne).

How should a dermatologist respond if a patient asks about acne face mapping? It’s important for dermatologists to explain that face mapping is pseudoscience. There is not one study to back this up and should not be offered as medical advice in skin care.  

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