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Oh no! A freckle! What shall I do?

STRONG sunshine and high temperatures can cause freckles, acne and heat rash. Most Chinese women are distressed by freckles because they prize even, flawless white skin, although many Westerners consider freckles attractive.

In general doctors recommend a bland, non-too-spicy, not-too-oily diet and suggest "cool" (yin energy) foods to reduce pigmentation and relieve acne.


In themselves, freckles are not a health problem but indicate sun exposure that could be a problem. Pigmentation occurs when skin is exposed to ultraviolet light. That's why freckles most often appear on the face, arms and upper chest.

Using sun block, wearing a heat covering up and avoiding intense sun between 12pm and 3pm helps prevent freckles.

Avoid foods that promote photosensitivity, according to Dr Wang Yifei, chief physician of Yueyang Hospital of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. These foods include ni luo (a sea snail), celery, lemon, parsley and mangoes.

Unlike the freckles due to internal causes, those caused by sun exposure naturally fade in time.

"But they fad faster with certain whitening foods and herbs," says Dr Wang.

Fruits like tomato, kiwi and strawberry are recommended in the season as they help protect skin from radiation while whitening it.

Pearl barley and mung beans can help with whitening and be added to soups. TCM herbs with name beginning in bai (white) can help. They include bai zhi (angelica dahurica), bai fuling (Chinaroot greenbriar rhizome), bai shao (root of herbaceous peony) and bai shu (bighead aractylodes rhizome).

Freckle repellents

Tomato juice

Drinking a cup of tomato juice every day can help prevent freckles and hasten fading. Rich in vitamin C, tomatoes can reduce melanin (pigment responsible for tanning) and whiten. Tomatoes contain other nutrients that reduce signs of aging and improve the complexion.

Cucumber congee

Ingredients: cucumber (300g), rice (100g), mashed ginger (10g)


1. Wash and chop cucumber into fine pieces.

2. Boil ginger and rice in saucepan, reduce heat when rice softens.

3. Add cucumber, simmer until congee gets thick.

4. Season to taste.

Eat once or twice a day.

Benefits: Nourishes skin, reduces freckles and whitens skin.


Sebum secretions often increase in warm weather, making acne problems worse. Excess sebum can block pours, which get infected, causing pimples.

Spicy crayfish, many people's favorite in the season, increases sebum production, according to Dr Wang.

A bland diet is important in hot season to reduce sebum secretion caused by eating spicy, fried, greasy foods and creamy desserts. Coffee and alcohol can aggravate the problem.

Washing the face gently with warm water and mild soap can help remove some sebum and prevent it from blocking the pores. Scrubbing and squeezing worsen inflammation and can result in scars and enlarged pores.

Regular bowl movements are important in relieving many acne problems caused by toxins. Certain "cool" (yin energy) foods can reduce acne by dispelling pathogenic heat. These include bitter cucumber, white gourd and chrysanthemum.

"Honeysuckle and hawthorn are especially recommended for acne patients, as honeysuckle can help dispel pathogenic heat while relieving inflammation, and hawthorn is effective in controlling sebum secretion," says Dr Wang. He recommends patients frequently drink teas of honeysuckle and hawthorn.

Herbal applications can reduce inflammation and help relieve the problem.


Ingredients: tea root (15g), bai hua she she cao (spreading hedyotis herb) (15g), yin chen (herba artemisiae capillaris) (15g) and ce bai ye (cacumen platycladi) (15g)


1. Prepare herbal soup with water.

2. Filter and soak gauze.

3. Apply 15 minutes once daily. If it gets dry, soak again.

Benefits: Help relieve inflammation of pimples reduces sebum secretion.

Heat rash

Heat rashes often occur when sweat isn't properly expelled through the pores and some remains under the skin.

Heat rash is more common in children with underdeveloped sweat glands and in elderly people with less efficient sweat glands, according to Dr Wang.

Keeping skin clean and dry is crucial to prevent and relieve heat rashes. Air-conditioners and fans help by keeping air circulating.

"Cool" diuretic foods like honeysuckle, mung beans and watermelon can help relieve the problem and dispel pathogenic heat the TCM way.

Stimulating foods that are spicy, fried or greasy will aggravate the problem.

Dr Wang suggests washing the affected area with warm water and immediately drying with a towel. Bath powder helps keep skin dry. Toilet water with mint, camphor and other ingredients can help relieve itchiness.


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