Addictions · Anxiety · Autoimmune Disorders · Menopause 
Pregnancy related conditions · Skin Disorders · PMS 



Teatment of Skin Disorders with Acupuncture

Skin diseases can be an annoying and embarrassing problem to live with. Many young people experience acne problems during the adolescent and teen years that gratefully disappear as they mature into adulthood. There are however, those people who continue to struggle with acne throughout their lives. It can erode self esteem and become a source of extreme discomfort.

How did it get here?

There are a number of reasons beyond simple allergy or inadequate hygiene that could precipitate the development of skin problems. Improper dietary practices - especially excessive refined sugar and dairy consumption - are significant factors. There also seems to be a genetic link for some of these conditions. Some patients suffer with eczema since early childhood and have blood relatives similarly affected.

Although various etiologies may occur, many patients seen in this practice present with a form of heat and/or dampness. The blood gets overly hot for various reasons, a dry environment ensues and this heat is expelled through the skin.

When dampness is present, oozing, wet sores are seen on the skin. When the problem stems from heat and dryness, then red, dry, scaly patches appear and are often diagnosed as eczema or perhaps psoriasis.

The Embarrassment of Eczema

Gina is a 16 year- old young woman that has been afflicted with eczema since she was two years old. Several of her aunts also have severe eczema, which developed in early childhood. Gina has seen many doctors and skin specialists to no avail. Doctors have treated her with multiple rounds of prednisone, topical cortisones and antihistamines. Her eczema has continually worsened with age. When Gina walked into my office, her entire scalp was covered with thick, scaly patches and scabs that she would scratch off to reveal bloody or reddish tissue that would crust over again within a few days. Her knees and elbows were encrusted and raw.

She had large crusty areas on her abdomen and back, arms and legs. The sores were dry and interestingly, did not itch.

Upon examination, her tongue was pale and dry, with red areas and red dots. Her pulses were rapid, deep and weak. Gina appeared a bit pale and reported that she often ran out of energy during the day.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), unusual redness anywhere on the body is a sign of heat. A rapid pulse also signifies heat. Gina’s eczema is dry which is again indicative of heat.

Since all of Gina’s signs indicate heat and dryness as well as blood deficiency, (pale, dry tongue, weak pulses, facial pallor and fatigue) it follows that her condition is a result of heat and blood deficiency. This condition is described as 'blood dryness" in TCM. Treatment principle is to clear heat and strengthen and moisten the blood.

We could have a discussion here about the reasonableness of moistening blood - after all, blood is wet isn’t it? In this case, the components of blood volume are insufficient to properly nourish the body tissues. Fluids have been dried up due to excessive heat, hence the sores are dry and the tongue is dry. So we are not merely concerned with blood hemoglobin but with blood fluids as well.

Blood cannot generally be enriched with acupuncture alone. Herbal blood tonics are required. In this case, a herbal formulas that clears heat in the blood as well as enriches and moistens blood were prescribed along with a course of acupuncture treatment.

After 10 visits, Gina’s eczema has faded into pale scars that are gradually disappearing. Her scalp is completely clear, as is the rest of her body. She was discharged from acupuncture and herbal treatment.

Eight months later, Gina continues to be free of any sign of eczema.

The Pain of Acne

Jeff is a 27-year-old man who came to my office for treatment of his sciatica. I couldn’t help notice the many pustules and scars on his face. Jeff said he had been dealing unsuccessfully with acne since a young teen and had virtually given up on doctors and medications that had never helped.

Jeff worked in a restaurant and remarked that he drank several tall glasses of milk daily. He craved cold milk. Everyone he worked with knew that a large glass of milk on a tray was going to Jeff. He also reported numerous allergies with difficulty breathing. Allergy tests however, had not revealed any allergic reactions.

Upon examination, I found Jeff’s tongue to be heavily coated and his saliva thick and stringy. His pulses were soggy and full. In TCM these are signs of "Retention of Dampness Clogging the Lungs". It is interesting to note that all of Jeff’s "dampness problems" were above his neck.

Jeff was very surprised and a bit skeptical when I suggested that giving up milk and dairy consumption in favor of calcium supplements would likely clear up his acne and breathing problems. However when he returned to the office 2 weeks later, his acne had significantly improved. He was excited at the changes in his skin as well as his allergies. Jeff, like many of us, believed that dairy was healthy for him but now willingly gave it up in favor of clear skin and clear nasal passages.

Jeff's sciatica also disappeared - but that's another story.


Netta M. Hart, Licensed Acupuncturist, 18 Coastal Way, Greenland, NH 03840