Skin eruptions according to Chinese Medicine

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Skin eruptions can be the consequence of several so-called “patterns of disharmony” in Chinese Medicine.

Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted, leading to symptoms or signs that something is wrong (like skin eruptions here). It is similar to the concept of disease in Western Medicine but not quite: a Western disease can often be explained by several Chinese patterns and vice-versa.

A pattern often manifests itself in a combination of symptoms that, at first glance, do not seem necessarily related to each others. For instance here skin eruptions is often associated with fever, eczema and bloody sputum in the pattern “Heat in the Blood”. As you will see below, we have in record three patterns that can cause skin eruptions.

Once identified, patterns are treated using medicinal herbs, acupuncture, and other therapies. In the case of skin eruptions we’ve identified five herbal formulas that may help treat patterns behind the symptom.

We’ve also selected below the five medicinal herbs that we think are most likely to help treat skin eruptions.

The three "patterns of disharmony" that can cause skin eruptions

In Chinese Medicine skin eruptions is a symptom for 3 patterns that we have on record. Below is a small explanation for each of them with links for more details.

Water Buffalo Horns (Shui Niu Jiao) is the king ingredient for Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a formula used for Heat in the Blood

Heat in the Blood

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue color: Red

Heat in the Blood (or Blood-Heat) refers to a condition whereby Heat, as a so-called "Pernicious Influence", entered the Blood. This invasion tends to accelerate Blood flow (leading to a faster pulse) and to manifest itself in various types of bleeding as well as other symptoms.

In addition to skin eruptions, other symptoms associated with Heat in the Blood include fever, eczema and bloody sputum.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Heat in the Blood is associated with health issues such as Early Menstruation or Abnormal Uterine Bleeding.

Heat in the Blood is often treated with Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang, a herbal formula made of 4 herbs (including Water Buffalo Horns - Shui Niu Jiao - as a key herb). Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang belongs to the category of "formulas that clear nutritive-level heat", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system".

Read more about Heat in the Blood here

Honeysuckle Flowers (Jin Yin Hua) is the king ingredient for Yin Qiao San, a formula used for Toxic-Heat

Toxic-Heat

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu)

Tongue coating: Yellow coating

Tongue color: Red

In addition to skin eruptions, other symptoms associated with Toxic-Heat include fever, mouth ulcers and eczema.

From a Western Medicine standpoint Toxic-Heat is associated with health issues such as Abnormal Vaginal Discharge.

Toxic-Heat is often treated with Yin Qiao San, a herbal formula made of 10 herbs (including Honeysuckle Flowers - Jin Yin Hua - as a key herb). Yin Qiao San belongs to the category of "external formulas for external disorders", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Disperses Wind Heat".

Read more about Toxic-Heat here

The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Damp-Heat invading the Spleen

Pulse type(s): Rapid (Shu), Slippery (Hua)

In addition to skin eruptions, other symptoms associated with Damp-Heat invading the Spleen include feeling of heat, scanty and dark urine and poor appetite.

Damp-Heat invading the Spleen is often treated with Lian Po Yin, a herbal formula made of 7 herbs (including Goldthread Rhizomes - Huang Lian - as a key herb). Lian Po Yin belongs to the category of "formulas that clear heat and expel dampness", which might be why it is often recommended for this pattern. Its main action as a formula is: "Clears Heat".

Read more about Damp-Heat invading the Spleen here

Five herbal formulas that might help with skin eruptions

Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang

Source date: 650 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Treats severe fevers and Heat in the Blood system. Removes Blood Stagnation.

Why might Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang help with skin eruptions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which red skin eruptions is a symptom.

Read more about Xi Jiao Di Huang Tang here

Huang Lian Jie Du Tang

Source date: 752 AD

Number of ingredients: 4 herbs

Key actions: Drains Fire. Resolves Toxin.

Why might Huang Lian Jie Du Tang help with skin eruptions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which red skin eruptions is a symptom.

Read more about Huang Lian Jie Du Tang here

Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin

Source date: 1617

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Key actions: Spreads Lung Qi. Clears Heat. Unblocks the orifices (specifically the nose) .

Why might Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin help with skin eruptions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Toxic-Heat' of which red skin eruptions is a symptom.

Read more about Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin here

Lian Po Yin

Source date: 1862 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Key actions: Clears Heat. Transforms Dampness. Regulates Qi. Harmonizes the Middle Burner.

Why might Lian Po Yin help with skin eruptions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Damp-Heat invading the Spleen' of which itchy skin and skin eruptions is a symptom.

Read more about Lian Po Yin here

Gu Jing Wan

Source date: 1481 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Key actions: Nourishes Yin . Clears Heat. Stops bleeding. Stabilizes the menses.

Why might Gu Jing Wan help with skin eruptions?

Because it is a formula often recommended to treat the pattern 'Heat in the Blood' of which red skin eruptions is a symptom.

Read more about Gu Jing Wan here

The five Chinese Medicinal herbs most likely to help treat skin eruptions

Why might Phellodendron Bark (Huang Bo) help with skin eruptions?

Because it is both specifically indicated to treat skin eruptions and also because it is an ingredient in herbal formulas known to treat skin eruptions as a symptom (such as San Zhong Kui Jian Tang for instance).

Phellodendron Bark is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Bladder, the Kidney and the Large intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Damp-Heat in the Lower Burner. Clears Kidney Yin Deficient Heat. Applied externally or toxic Fire, especially associated with Dampness.

Read more about Phellodendron Bark here

Why might Liquorice (Gan Cao) help with skin eruptions?

Because Liquorice is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat skin eruptions as a symptom, like Bai Hu Tang or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Liquorice is a Neutral herb that tastes Sweet. It targets the Heart, the Lung, the Spleen and the Stomach.

Its main actions are: Tonifies the Basal Qi and nourishes the Spleen Qi. Clears Heat and dispels toxicity. Moistens the Lungsexpel phlegm and stop coughing. Relieves spasms and alleviates pain. Harmonizes and moderates the effects of other herbs.

Read more about Liquorice here

Why might Baikal Skullcap Root (Huang Qin) help with skin eruptions?

Because Baikal Skullcap Root is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat skin eruptions as a symptom, like Gan Lu Xiao Du Dan or Huang Lian Jie Du Tang for instance.

Baikal Skullcap Roots is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Large intestine, the Lung, the Small intestine and the Spleen.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and Dampness. Clears Upper Burner Heat, especially of the Lung. Clears Heat and stops reckless movement of Blood. Clears pathogenic Heat which is upsetting the fetus. Cools the Liver, reducing Liver Yang rising syndrome.

Read more about Baikal Skullcap Roots here

Why might Forsythia Fruit (Lian Qiao) help with skin eruptions?

Because Forsythia Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat skin eruptions as a symptom, like Yin Qiao San or Sang Ju Yin for instance.

Forsythia Fruits is a Cool herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Heart, the Lung and the Small intestine.

Its main actions are: Expels Heat and toxicity from the Blood. Dispels External Wind-Heat. Reduces lumps, swollen lymph nodes and sores of a Heated nature.

Read more about Forsythia Fruits here

Why might Cape Jasmine Fruit (Zhi Zi) help with skin eruptions?

Because Cape Jasmine Fruit is an ingredient in several formulas indicated to treat skin eruptions as a symptom, like Xin Yi Qing Fei Yin or Long Dan Xie Gan Tang for instance.

Cape Jasmine Fruits is a Cold herb that tastes Bitter. It targets the Gallbladder, the Heart, the Lung and the Sanjiao.

Its main actions are: Clears Heat and calms spirit. Drains Damp-Heat affecting the Liver and Gallbladder. Clears Heat in the Blood and stops bleeding. Anti-inflammatory.

Read more about Cape Jasmine Fruits here