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Severe Acne and Eczema
Time flies and I cannot help but realize how long it was since I posted last time. Lately the patients I am seeing have become more and more of the long-term type. There are 2 patients that I have been treating for over 3 months now and have at this moment stabilized for the most part and have taken some time off treatment.
The first case is a young gentleman who suffered from severe acne. By Western medicine they typically call this “acne vulgaris”. His acne is across the whole face but concentrated on the cheeks and forehead. Because it has been a long time so there were a lot of what I think may be scars or deep-seated inflammation here and there with many active ones with pus heads. Chinese medicine speaking skin conditions are categorized a bit differently mainly by where on the body they exhibit as related to what acupuncture channel system they belong to. The ones on the face, even if it is not acne, are often related to the stomach and digestive channels. Facial skin conditions are often a result of some kind of digestive disturbance even the patient doesn’t have overt symptoms there. Modern speak it must be a microbiome kind of thing. That being said trying to rectify this is no easy task. The patient was very cooperating and had a lot of patience to come for weekly acupuncture and drink the Chinese herbal medicine for over 3 months. I cannot say he is completely ok though yet. But our initial goal was to stop the acne from continuously showing up so the skin has time to gradually heal. Even this required this long period of time. However there is still deep-seated inflammation that hasn’t completely gone away from the old ones that went away. I told the patient to look into aloe vera applications to see they will help as I use it from time to time for cuts and things like that and it works pretty well it seems in terms of getting skin to heal and curbing the inflammation that results from skin damage. When treating skin conditions sometimes external applications are required if internal methods aren’t fast enough. This patient also had arm eczema around the elbows which went mostly away from the treatment as well as the eczema ointment I gave him.
The 2nd patient she had eczema on both arms. It covered wide swaths of area most notably severe on the elbows and back of hands. Before she came she had gone to a prior TCM doctor who also gave herbs but was in powder form. I told her I mainly do the tea form as that was more strong and could be customized better to suit each person’s different situations. Most of practitioners who treat skin conditions typically approach it from Western medicine perspective by using anti-inflammatory herbs much like how steroids are prescribed. This is only one method of treatment as there are other methods of clearing inflammation in Chinese medicine. According to Chinese medicine the eczema is treated differently depending on where it happens to be. This is taught to me when I went to receive training in USA by renowned TCM dermatologist Dr. Mazin Al-Khafaji of the UK. Eczema on the arms because it is upper body so Chinese medicine approach it as a “wind” condition. “Wind” is difficult to explain in modern terms especially in English because it is a Chinese language concept. But I think you can think of “wind” as a type of inflammation that covers wide areas like raging fire. The concept in Chinese is closely related to the idea of fire because fire is a product of wind. A forest does not catch fire if there is no wind, and wind just makes fire worse. This is natural phenomenon nobody can deny. So wind is disturbance, it is turbulence, it is chaos. Chinese ideas are sometimes hard for modern minds to wrap around. It took a while to really get this to calm down, the eczema. Gradually she weaned off of anti-allergy meds and steroid creams but the actual eczema only improved slightly to my eyes. The turning point was when I decided to tell the patient if she wanted to try a Chinese medicine skin wash that was originally meant for vaginal issues. I told her this because the formulation inside is actually expandable to cover many types of skin problems outside of the private area. She reported amazing effect from using it. It was especially helpful to curb the itching which was part of why the inflammation persists because if you keep scratching something of course it isn’t going to be nice. Currently her arm is much much better, the eczema has retracted to the elbows and back of hands. Elbows are actually much better but the hands still need work. Right now she continues to use the wash. Hopefully it keeps things at bay.