face mapping can reveal underlying health problems through the location of acne on various “zones” that correspond to our internal organs. But this ancient science doesn't end there: just as face mapping can tell what your facial pimples mean, mapping where you get pimples on the rest of your body can also help pinpoint (and thereby treat) internal imbalances that might be messing up your system.
So, on popular demand, I have gone back to the drawing board – consisting of ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic texts, as interpreted by 21st century’s cutting edge doctors – and distilled that knowledge into this easy-to-interpret “body map” of acne zones. Put simply, think of your body as a map and blemishes as X’s on that landscape. Spots in different zones correspond to different problems. Interesting, right? Try it out: here is how to decode breakouts in the basic body areas.
ZONE 1: HORMONES
Like the jaw, acne on the neck might indicate that your adrenal glands (hormones) are in overdrive. Other options: stress or excessive sugar intake. That’s if you are not wearing shirts with tight collars or have greasy hair that constantly touches the skin in this area.
ZONE 2 & 3: STRESS
Shoulder acne could mean that you are over-stressed, sensitive and vulnerable. Another alternative? Check whether your handbag strap is causing friction against the skin.
ZONE 4: DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
Are you wearing clothes that are not breathable – like polyester or nylon? Have you ruled out fungal infections (especially if you have little whiteheads on the chest that don’t respond to acne treatments) and allergies? If all these are clear, acne on the chest can point towards digestive troubles, like a poor diet, bad eating habits, having excessively spicy food or drinking too many cold beverages on a regular basis.
ZONE 5 & 6: VITAMIN LEVELS
Skin is coarser on the arms so you can get keratosis pilaris in this area. This appears as small spots that give skin a rough, goose-bumpy appearance. Keratosis pilaris is caused by poor circulation and overproduction of dead cells at the hair follicle. Try to treat it with regular exfoliation and moisturizers containing salicylic acid. If the problem persists despite this, it could be a sign of how efficiently your body is receiving and utilizing vitamins from your diet.
ZONE 7: BLOOD SUGAR LEVELS
There are very few oil glands in this area, making stomach acne a rarer complaint. When zits do crop up here, it’s usually because of one of these reasons: tight fitting clothes or high blood sugar.
ZONE 8: HYGIENE OR STDS
Utterly painful and pretty difficult to clear up because of this area’s high moistness factor, crotch or pelvic acne could crop up because of ingrown hairs from waxing or shaving. Then again, poor personal hygiene might play a role. More worryingly though, it could be warts or the symptom of an STD (especially if the spots itch, ooze or don’t show any signs of improvement after 3-4 days).
ZONE 9 & 10: SKIN SENSITIVITIES OR ALLERGIES
Acne on the thighs and upper legs often comes up as a reaction to body lotions, shower gels, laundry detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheets. On the lower legs, there is the added factor of ingrown hair post-shaving or waxing. It’s best treated with a body wash that has salicylic acid (BHA) or glycolic acid (AHA) and a light, non-comedogenic moisturizer.
ZONE 11 & 12: NERVOUS AND DIGESTIVE SYSTEMS
This is the most common body area for acne and frequent reasons include allergies, excessive sweating, not showering after exercise, friction from athletic gear, clothes that are too tight and not breathable, backpack straps, irritation because of hair or body care products, reaction to laundry detergent, fabric softener or dryer sheets. If you have ruled out all these, evaluate whether your diet is loaded with fried and high calorie foods or you aren't getting enough sleep… both could be contributing elements.
ZONE 13 & 14: DIGESTIVE SYSTEM
There are usually three reasons for acne to show up on the buttocks: underwear that’s dirty, not breathable or too tight; excessively dry skin; and poor diet or digestion, with too many cold drinks and too much spicy food. So if the zits don’t subside despite moisturizing your skin, wearing loose cotton clothes and keeping everything clean, start evaluating your dietary habits.
So the next time you break out on the back or shoulders, look to your body map: your skin is probably trying to communicate on behalf of the internal organs. However, do remember that, as with all medical issues, it is always best to see your doctor or dermatologist for a proper prognosis. I am not a doctor or a medical practitioner and this is just a general guide to head you off in the right investigative direction – just because you break out on the stomach doesn't always mean you have high blood sugar!