Seborrheic Dermatitisaccording to TCM

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common, chronic skin condition characterized by red, scaly, and itchy patches, often affecting the scalp but also seen in oily areas of the body. This skin disorder is known by various names including seborrheic eczema, sebaceous dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. It's particularly notable for its flaky, dandruff-like appearance. The condition, often chronic, tends to fluctuate in severity and may be exacerbated by stress, hormonal changes, or weather.

How does TCM View Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches seborrheic dermatitis differently from Western medicine. TCM views this condition as a manifestation of internal imbalances in the body's natural energies and identifies it as related to patterns of disharmony, such as Damp-Wind or Toxic-Heat.

In TCM, the skin is a reflection of internal health, and seborrheic dermatitis signals an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. Treatment focuses on restoring balance and harmony within the body, using a holistic approach.

Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis According to TCM

TCM recognizes several potential causes for seborrheic dermatitis. One common pattern involves Damp-Wind, where Dampness accumulates in the body, creating an environment conducive to skin issues. This pattern often manifests with symptoms like itchiness and visible inflammation.

Another pattern, Toxic-Heat, suggests an accumulation of heat and toxins in the body, leading to red, inflamed, and itchy skin, characteristic of seborrheic dermatitis. These patterns are indicative of an imbalance in the body's Yin and Yang energies, and treatment is aimed at restoring this balance.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Seborrheic Dermatitis

In treating seborrheic dermatitis, TCM relies on various herbal formulas and treatments. For conditions arising from Damp-Wind, the Ku Shen Tang formula, containing Sophora Roots, is beneficial for its bitter and cold properties, helping to alleviate symptoms.

For Toxic-Heat patterns, Zi Dang Gao, which includes Lithospermum Roots, offers relief. This formula targets the heat and toxicity that exacerbate the condition. Additionally, Shi Wei Bai Du San, with Saposhnikovia Roots, is effective for Toxic-Heat, and Tao He Cheng Qi Tang, featuring Peach Kernels, is used for more severe cases involving Blood Stagnation. These treatments are tailored to the individual's specific pattern of disharmony, underlining TCM's personalized approach to healthcare.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address seborrheic dermatitis, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • External formulas for external disorders
  • Formulas that clear external abscesses and sores
  • Formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation

All "external formulas for external disorders" recommended for seborrheic dermatitis

Formula Key herbs
Ku Shen Tang Sophora Roots (Ku Shen)
Zi Dang Gao Lithospermum Roots (Zi Cao), Dong Quai (Dang Gui)

TCM Herbs for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address seborrheic dermatitis, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Herbs that clear heat and dry dampness
  • Herbs that invigorate the blood
  • Purgative herbs that drain downward
  • Herbs that clear heat and relieve toxicity
  • Tonic herbs for blood deficiency

"Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior" recommended for seborrheic dermatitis

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Saposhnikovia Roots (Fang Feng) Shi Wei Bai Du San
Japanese Catnip (Jing Jie) Shi Wei Bai Du San