Skin Infectionaccording to TCM

Symptom family: Lumps, Swellings & Abscesses

Sub-symptom(s): Erysipelas Cellulitis

What is Skin Infection?

Skin infections are a broad category of conditions caused by various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. These infections can range from superficial, such as impetigo and ringworm, to more serious conditions like cellulitis and erysipelas. They manifest in various forms, including redness, swelling, heat, pain, and sometimes discharge, significantly impacting the skin's appearance and function. Sub-symptoms like erysipelas and cellulitis underscore the varied nature of skin infections, highlighting the body's struggle to ward off invasive microbial attacks.

How does TCM view Skin Infection?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique perspective on skin infections, viewing them as manifestations of internal disharmonies rather than mere external issues. According to TCM, the skin is a reflection of the body's internal health, and skin infections signal underlying imbalances or the invasion of external pathogens.

TCM emphasizes the importance of identifying the specific pattern of disharmony—whether it be Qi Stagnation, Damp-Heat accumulation, or Blood Stagnation—to tailor treatment effectively. This approach allows for a more holistic healing process, addressing both the symptoms on the skin and the root causes within the body.

Causes of Skin Infection According to TCM

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, skin infections are often attributed to the invasion of external pathogenic factors such as Wind, Dampness, Heat, and occasionally Cold, penetrating the body's defenses. For example, Damp-Heat is a common culprit, believed to accumulate in the body due to imbalances in lifestyle, diet, or exposure to humid environments, leading to the proliferation of infections on the skin. TCM's nuanced understanding of the patterns underscores the importance of a personalized diagnosis to effectively clear the pathogen and restore the body's harmony.

TCM Herbal Formulas for Skin Infection

To combat skin infections, TCM employs a variety of herbs known for their ability to expel pathogenic factors and harmonize the body's Qi. For instance, Knotgrass (Bian Xu), recognized for its bitter, sweet, and cool properties, is commonly used to drain Dampness and clear Damp-Heat, particularly from the Lower Burner, making it effective against infections characterized by dampness and heat accumulation.

The choice of herbs is meticulously tailored to the individual's specific pattern of disharmony, ensuring the treatment not only alleviates the external symptoms but also addresses the internal cause, promoting a comprehensive healing process.

Explore below some TCM herbal formulas used to address skin infection, organized by formula type.

  • By Formula Type
  • Formulas that clear wind-Cold
  • Formulas that invigorate blood and dispel blood stagnation
  • Formulas that clear external abscesses and sores

All "formulas that clear wind-Cold" recommended for skin infection

Formula Key herbs
Da Qing Long Tang Ephedra (Ma Huang)
Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo)

Acupoints for Skin Infection

Explore below some acupoints used to address skin infection, organized by meridian.

  • By Meridian
  • Large Intestine Channel
  • Spleen Channel
Quchi LI-11

Quchi LI-11

When the elbow is flexed, Quchi LI-11 is in the depression at the lateral end of the cubital crease, midway between Chize LU-5 and the lateral epicondyle of the humerus.

Xuehai SP-10

Xuehai SP-10

When knee is flexed, Xuehai SP-10 is 2 cun above the medial upper border of the patella, in a depression on the vastus medialis muscle.

TCM Herbs for Skin Infection

Explore below some TCM herbs used to address skin infection, organized by herb category.

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs that clear heat and relieve toxicity
  • Herbs that invigorate the blood
  • Herbs that cool the blood
  • Warm/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Herbs that drain dampness
  • Laxative herbs that drain downward
  • Cool/Acrid herbs that release the exterior
  • Purgative herbs that drain downward

"Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity" recommended for skin infection

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) Wu Wei Xiao Du Yin
Black Nightshade Herbs (Long Kui) Not applicable
Forsythia Fruits (Lian Qiao) Not applicable
Patrinia (Bai Jiang Cao) Not applicable
Purslane (Ma Chi Xian) Not applicable
Tokyo Violets (Zi Hua Di Ding) Not applicable

"Herbs that invigorate the Blood" recommended for skin infection

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) Tao He Cheng Qi Tang
Scarab Grubs (Qi Cao) Not applicable

"Herbs that cool the Blood" recommended for skin infection

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Woad Leaves (Da Qing Ye) Not applicable
Woad Roots (Ban Lan Gen) Not applicable

"Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior" recommended for skin infection

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Ephedra (Ma Huang) Da Qing Long Tang
Notopterygium Roots (Qiang Huo) Jiu Wei Qiang Huo Tang