Is your liver causing your skin problems?

While I’ve identified a poor digestive system as one of my main skin nemeses, an organ that I need to pay greater attention to is actually my liver. It always been flagged out as a key indicator of concern whenever I consult TCM practitioners; nothing too serious but it’s been weakened and that has caused some skin issues for me particularly in recent years such as a duller skin tone, itchy skin, red spots and acne. The detox that I did helped improved my condition but I definitely need to do more to strengthen this organ.

What does it do?
I’m not one who had exceled in my biology lessons and it was only upon reading that I recalled that the liver is the largest and most complex organ in the human body. This organ plays a major role in metabolism and performs more than 500 functions in the body, including metabolizing estrogen, controlling blood sugar, decomposing red blood cells, storing nutrients, regulating fat and aiding digestion, as well as detoxifing. In fact, the latter is one of its primary function.

What does it detoxify?
Our liver detoxifies the blood by filtering out the toxins caused by all sorts of environmental and chemical pollutants that assault our body regularly. On a simple level, it does this by converting the harmful toxins into substances that can be safely eliminated from the body – as urine through the kidneys and as bile through the colon.

What skin problems does it create?
If our liver is not able to detoxify properly, toxins will then build up in our system and create free radicals that in turn promote cell damage in our skin. A major indicator of liver disease is jaundice, which is a yellow discoloration of the skin and eye whites due to abnormally high levels of bilirubin in the bloodstream. This is due to inflammation or other abnormalities of the liver cells or blockage of the bile ducts, but sometimes, it is caused by the breakdown of a large number of red blood cells, such as in newborns. Other skin problems include:
– sallow skin
– adult acne or uneven skin tone
– psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis
– rashes and skin sores
– wrinkles and sagging skin
– dark circles under the eyes
– brownish age spots and blemishes on the skin
– offensive body odor and bad breath
– spider-like blood vessels visible in the skin

What can we do?
Besides the skin problems, those with a weakened liver might feel sluggish, have frequent headaches and a general foggy state of mind. You could also be having a weight issue. If you suspect that your liver isn’t functionally optimally, then you might need to detoxify. There are various natural herbs that can aid the process including milk thistle and danelion root. However, instead of self diagnosing, you might want to seek some medical advice to determine if you have issues with your liver first. Meanwhile, I’ll be doing some reading on the subject matter and I’ll come back with another post to talk about ways that we can strengthen our liver soon.


  1. youngorgeous says:

    I suddenly had adult acne despite having clear skin all through the years until turning 25. I’ve always blamed the hormones. After reading this entry, maybe its my liver!

    thank god its going to be the fasting month soon. would fasting help in detoxing? or I still need to consume some supplements to remove toxins?

    help dear!

  2. Jol says:

    Thanks for the informative article Sesame. I think I ‘ticked’ quite a few of the skin problems you mentioned! ? Will be looking out for your next post on how to strengthen the liver next ?

  3. mel says:

    omg! this year my skin suddenly went haywire too! after a bout of antibiotics in my puberty dats to control acne, i’ve had generally trouble free skin till this year! i’ve been having lots of breakouts/clots/pimples on my cheel & jaw line area. perhaps it’s my liver! am looking forward to your follow up post!

  4. Hanns says:

    i’m dealing with acne since last month i started a mild detoxification.should a detox help diminish the acne or would it get worse?can’t wait for your next post.thanks!

  5. papaya says:

    actually, skin is the largest organ.

  6. sesame says:

    Yes, fasting will help as you will be cutting back on a lot of food. But you will still be eating, so you need to take note of what you’re eating too. I wrote a series about detox, you can read one here:

  7. sesame says:

    Okay, I will work on it soon. I want to try out some of the stuff first and write from an experience if possible.

  8. sesame says:

    It could be that…Cheek acne usually has to do with toxins. It also has to do with your digestive system.

  9. sesame says:

    Try reading my detox entries starting with this:

    It is linked to two others that I wrote. Detox might make your acne worse as it will purge out the toxins. Must be determined and be prepared.

  10. sesame says:

    Yes, you’re right. I should have stated that liver is the largest internal organ. Thanks for pointing it out. ?

  11. jayie says:

    I think my liver has problems too… I have got alot of recurring cystic acne on my chin and jawline. Very big and painful and always leave scars. ?

    I want to go to a tcm, any to recommend? Thanks!

  12. chenyze says:

    haiz. i feel quite depressed now. though that’s got more to do with my lack of discipline!

    i did need that reminder though. thanks! and i hope you’ll have cool recommendations for us soon x=

  13. Vonvon says:

    Yup, liver and the GI tract both play an important role in determining our skin condition.

    One way to put less stress on the liver, so that it can perform its detox function well, is to eat less oily and fried food.

  14. youngorgeous says:

    thanks dear!

  15. sesame says:

    Cystic acne definitely signals an internal issue; chin acne are related to hormonal issues.

  16. sesame says:

    Ok, will be trying out some remedies too. Hope I can write soon.

  17. sesame says:

    That’s a good advice! Oily and fried food is a big culprit and they can stress the gall bladder too.

  18. Dee says:

    I never had any acne nor acne scars until I started getting into my 20’s. I actually have some of the problems you mentioned, I really need to start being careless about what I eat and exercise more. I’m looking forward to your post on strengthening your liver Sesame!

  19. Jasmine says:

    I definitely think that the liver has lots to do with the skin. It also regulates hormones — especially estrogen. This is why people on strong acne medications like Roccutane need a liver function test — that medication is essentially to regulate estrogen levels and people with weak livers may not be suited for it.

  20. mel says:

    i saw in some of your other posts that you have consulted TCM doctors as well. could you send me the contacts? are they expansive? i’m under the impression that it’s costly to consult TCM as the treatment usually takes a long time and you have to go for many follow up consultations etc.

  21. sesame says:

    Sorry I missed out your question regarding TCM doc. The one I went to was so so…it wasn’t for skin issues. Some readers left some recommendations in this post I wrote. Maybe you can take a look especially the one recommended by ann.

  22. sesame says:

    It’s not cheap as it takes a long while. I gave up and resorted to detox instead. You might want to take a look at some of the recommendations made by other readers in this post I wrote.

  23. sesame says:

    I guess it’s accumulative toxins that created the problems. I used to have normal skin but once I had my child, my skin turned sensitive and I have frequent flare ups on my body.

    Okay, will be working on it.

  24. sesame says:

    That’s good info and advice! Some medication stress out the internal organs and it’s not a good idea to use them long term.

  25. Victoria Lewy says:

    I’m going to make full body detox and I was told that the first organ i should cleanse is liver. So I’m in search of natural remedies to detoxify my liver, without any extreme methods like cleansing fast :). Any help would be appreciated.

  26. Hanns says:

    Hi again! just wondering if its okay to drink psyllium fiber? i am struggling to eat plain veggies and thought a fiber drink would also be a good help.thanks!

  27. sesame says:

    I’ve come across a few remedies but I’m hesistant to try those DIY methods. I took a detox supplement, which helped to nourish my kidney while it help detox the toxins from my liver and body. I covered it here:

    I may consider looking at other supplements containing milk thistle too.

  28. sesame says:

    I’ve never tried it but believe it should be fine if you don’t take it excessively. You’ll need to drink lots of water though.

  29. Keidi says:

    Yeap, the state of our liver and kidney do reflect on our skin. I just started on this fruit n veg supplement and having some breakouts as I think it’s detoxifying my system. Looking forward to ur next post!!

  30. Victoria Lewy says:

    Thank you, Sesame!

  31. sesame says:

    What’s the supplement you’re taking?

  32. sesame says:

    You’re welcome Victoria!

  33. Lim keidi says:

    It’s called Juiceplus+. This supplement that contain 17 types of fruits, veg and wholegrains. There will be a health and wellness talk at Susan’s next Tues at 7pm about this..

  34. sesame says:

    Oh it’s from TB? Hmm…will ask her next time I visit them. Haven’t been down for about two months now.

  35. Keidi says:

    TB is currently carrying this supplement. Come hear about it at the talk next Tues if you are free

  36. fwy says:

    I am not one person that likes to take supplements. Besides switching to a vegan diet, I had also started out with regular exercise (just walking or brisk walking so far) recently. After sweating, I tend to feel good throughout the day.

  37. Xiuzhen says:

    Was wondering what is the function of the liver the other time, but too lazy to look up for the info thanks for this post :). It is really an amazing organ! I think it is the only organ in the body that can grow back in full size even when part of it is cut off!!

  38. sesame says:

    I didn’t remember that it can grow back in size! Very interesting and amazing indeed!

  39. sesame says:

    It’s not good to rely on supplements actually but unfortunately, there are some vitamins that can’t be obtained in sufficient amount from our diet so they’re still necessary.

  40. sesame says:

    Don’t think I will attend the talk but I’ll ask her about it when I next visit.

  41. Xiuzhen says:

    Was checking to make sure i remember correctly and found the following info:

    The liver is the only internal human organ capable of natural regeneration of lost tissue; as little as 25% of a liver can regenerate into a whole liver.

  42. sesame says:

    Thanks for confirming the info! Okay, something a bit irrelevant but I actually like to eat pig’s liver. ?

  43. Hayashi says:

    I have similar issue with youngorgeous (1st comment of this post). My acne seems to appear only on the right cheek since Jun-2010 (age 25 too). Where in Singapore can get those milk thistle and danelion root vit / supplementary? I did some reading online too. There are some who recommend to go for liver and colon cleansing but I do not know how? Via supplementary too? Any idea?

    (For sharing :

  44. Hayashi says:

    Correction for my comment (numbered 18)

    My acne seems to appear only on the right cheek since Jun 2009 …

  45. sesame says:

    You can find plenty of those supplements at Watsons and Guardian pharmacy. I took the Kordel’s Detox Cleanse – two bottles in 2 weeks and it was effective. But, the problem is, you need to detox about every quarter.

  46. Ingrid Robinson says:


    Thank you for the great information. I am 33 yrs and have been dealing with terrible issues created by my thyroid. I have been to many doctors, added supplements and a gentle body detox. I changed my diet recently. I am having the worse skin issues on my face and body. About 5 months ago I woke up with my eye lids so swollen and red. It went away with cranberry juice. My cheeks now get so red and it feel so itchy. It looks like I got sunburned. I also had a nasty rash under my arms and on my arms. It started to go away with antibiotics but now it’s slowly coming back. I have done much research about liver, kidneys, colon and skin. It all links to the same issues. I just do not know what else I can try or how can I clean my liver and kidneys??? PLEASE HELP!

  47. dan says:

    i am getting lots of spots on my arms, front and back.
    it’s stressing out. any advise?

  48. dan says:

    brown ones, and some red

  49. Sesame says:

    You might want to check with some medical experts because I’ve never seen red spots.

  50. Scott says:

    With me I think its dry skin…Damaged skin barrier…things like liver not optimally functioning…eating wrong..using too hot water for my shower…all of those exaccerbate..but for me are not the root cause of my itchy skin is just the wrong chemical balance in my blood I guess.

  51. Scott says:

    Oh and I am gonna try petroleum jelly next because I can’t put anything on my skin which sinks in…anything any oil always makes it worse..sorry if I got a bit off track from the main subject there.

  52. Scott says:

    Well…tried the petroleum jelly all over…its good as a spot treatment…but OMG not for all over body…not good…

  53. Teresa Larsen says:

    Do you still answer questions?

  54. Charlotte says:

    Omh!! Your blog just gave me life! I was at a doctors appt last week and my doctor told me my count was rising for my liver. After which I started a bad I mean bad breakout on my arms chest and face. And my skin tone is horrible. I’m ashamed because I own a health and wellness business and have access to the the organic products I need including detoxing. I just got so busy. Well back to being a product of my products! Thank you!

  55. Ankica says:

    I have had problems with my complexion for years and have used numerous products with very little results. Dermalmd rosacea serum is by far the best. My complexion is already starting to improve greatly.. I can hardly wait to see how well it works with continued use!

  56. christina says:

    Hello, I realize this is an old article, but I just came across it. It’s the first place where I’ve seen that liver can cause skin sagging from detox. How might one go about cleansing the liver, and has anyone seen good results, i.e., no longer jowl sagging?

    Thank you.

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