Skin Swellingaccording to TCM

Symptom family: Skin Inflammation & Swelling

Did you mean? Swollen Complexion Edema

What is Skin Swelling?

Skin swelling is a condition characterized by an abnormal accumulation of fluid in the tissues beneath the skin, leading to noticeable puffiness or enlargement of the affected area. This can result from a wide range of causes, including injury, infection, allergic reactions, and chronic health conditions. The swelling can vary in severity, from mild and barely noticeable to severe and disabling, impacting the individual's comfort and mobility. Understanding the underlying cause of skin swelling is crucial for effective treatment and management.

How does TCM view Skin Swelling?

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approaches skin swelling as a symptom of imbalance within the body's vital energies and organ systems. TCM suggests that skin swelling arises from disruptions in the flow of Qi and Blood, often caused by the accumulation of pathogenic factors such as Phlegm, Dampness, and Heat.

Unlike Western medicine, which tends to focus on the immediate physical cause, TCM seeks to identify and treat the underlying pattern of disharmony contributing to the condition, emphasizing a holistic approach to healing.

Root Causes of Skin Swelling in TCM

In TCM, skin swelling is often associated with Phlegm accumulation and the stagnation of Qi and Blood. Phlegm can obstruct the Channels, joints, and muscles, leading to symptoms like swelling, numbness, and discomfort. This condition reflects an imbalance in the body's ability to metabolize fluids and maintain the smooth flow of Qi and Blood. Addressing skin swelling from a TCM perspective involves not only relieving the immediate symptoms but also restoring balance and harmony to the affected Channels and organ systems, thereby preventing recurrence.

Explore below more details about what might cause Skin swelling according to TCM.

  • By Syndrome
  • Phlegm
Detailed description of the cause


In TCM "Phlegm" as a pattern of disharmony is a complex concept that extends beyond the physical manifestation of mucus. It represents a pathological factor that can disrupt the flow of Qi (vital energy) and blood, leading to various health issues. Phlegm in TCM is seen as a sticky, turbid substance arising from the body's inability to metabolize fluids properly, often due to a dysfunction of the spleen. It's not only associated with respiratory problems like cough and congestion but also with systemic issues. Symptoms can include a feeling of heaviness, mental cloudiness, dizziness, and in some cases, the formation of lumps or masses. Phlegm can even be "invisible," contributing to emotional disturbances like depression or stress. ... see more

Phlegm Patterns That Can Lead to Skin Swelling

Pattern Name Relevant Symptoms Relevant Formulas
Phlegm in the Channels joints and muscles Swelling of the skin, Skin numbness, Skeletal deformities, Joint stiffness, Arthralgia, Muscle pain Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang

TCM Herbal Formulas for Skin Swelling

To treat skin swelling, TCM utilizes a variety of formulas and herbs tailored to address the specific patterns of disharmony identified in the patient. For issues related to Phlegm and Blood Stagnation, Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang is a recommended formula. It contains Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) among other ingredients, known for their ability to invigorate the Blood and dissolve Phlegm.

This formula helps to clear obstructions in the Channels, alleviate pain, and reduce swelling, demonstrating TCM's comprehensive approach to treating skin swelling by targeting the root cause of the condition.

See more details below about Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang, a herbal formula used to address skin swelling.

  • By Cause
  • By Formula Type
  • Phlegm
  • Formulas that regulate blood

TCM Herbs for Skin Swelling

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

  • By Herb Category
  • Herbs that invigorate the blood

"Herbs that invigorate the Blood" recommended for skin swelling

Herb Formulas they belong to (if applicable)
Peach Kernels (Tao Ren) Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang
Safflowers (Hong Hua) Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang
Szechuan Lovage Roots (Chuan Xiong) Shen Tong Zhu Yu Tang