Chinese Medicine Herbs For The Skin
As the largest organ of the body, skin carries the job of reflecting our internal health. When there are rashes, eczema, acnes or hives, Chinese medicine never sees them as a problem of the superficial, and should not be dealt with by only “scratching the surface”.
Chinese medicine considers skin conditions as the result of both external and internal factors.
Wind is known as the “chief of the hundred disease”. When the person is lack of defensive Qi, wind can easily sneak into the Cou Li level, between the skin and the muscle, causing skin issues. Skin diseases related to wind commonly do not appear on a specific location and come and go. They can causes severe itchiness, dryness, and peeling of the skin.
External damp environment and internal body dampness can both lead to damp-related skin conditions. They are characterized by blisters, fluid, erosion, and itchiness. Skin conditions caused by dampness usually have a long course of progression and hard to heal.
Heat and Fire are from the same source in Chinese medicine. Heat is the stage before Fire. With Heat, the skin feels itchy and with Fire, the skin feels burning. Typical heat related skin conditions occur on the upper portion of the body, and present with redness, swelling, pustules, and erosion.
Chinese medicine consider fungal infection as a form of “Parasite” mainly because in ancient time, without the knowledge of microbiology, the itchiness caused by fungus infection lead people to think there was insects or parasite present. Ringworm, jock itch and athlete’s foot are under this category. Another skin pattern related to parasites is bug bite, causing redness, itchiness and topical inflammation.
Toxic stimulant in the food, medication, insects, paint etc. can trigger allergic or even poisoning reactions. Symptoms are usually inflammation, swelling, oozing, papule, hives, and erosions. In an emergency, urgent care should be given.
- Blood stasis
Blood stasis related skin conditions are usually chronic. Macules or patches in the color of dark red and purple, or pigmentation on the skin are all signs of blood stasis.
- Blood deficiency and dryness
This is another important mechanism of causing chronic skin issues. Caused by blood and yin deficiency due to lack of nutrients or agitation, skin conditions are characterized with dryness, scale-like flake, roughness and itchiness. Skin erosion or oozing rarely happen. Psoriasis, chronic eczema, and chronic itchiness of skin are commonly seen in this category.
- Kidney and Liver Deficiency
Skin conditions caused by Kidney and Liver Deficiency are usually chronic. Dryness, roughness, scaling are typical conditions. Pigmentation, hair loss, warts and blood spots can also be indicated by Kidney and Liver Deficiency.
Here is a chart of using TCM diagnosis to help with choosing proper herb for your skin.
Skin condition appear all over the body without a specific location;
Oozing and erosion
Blisters, oozing, erosion and itchiness; more commonly found at the lower body
Chronic dryness, thickening of skin, roughness, scaly skin. Oozing and infection are less common.
Darkness of skin, purple and blue spots, pigmentation, nodules, bruises and hair loss.
Fungal infection, insect bite, local inflammation.
Chen, H. (2018). External Medicine of Traditional Chinese Medicine Zhong Yi Wai Ke Xue 中医外科学 (第1版). China Press of Traditional Chinese Meidicine.