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Chinese Medicine Basics on Skin Conditions

In Chinese medicine, the skin is a helpful diagnostic tool, often telling us on the outside what is happening on the inside. Skin conditions are most often seen as a secondary symptom of a deeper underlying condition. To treat dermatological conditions, Chinese herbalists look to the internal imbalances that are causing the skin to react. These can be related to lifestyle factors like diet and stress or internal issues like excess heat, dampness, or blood stasis.

As for hair loss, thinning, or graying, Chinese herbalism works to rejuvenate the body’s core yin to support and nourish the hair follicles and improve the look and vitality of the hair.

Blood Heat and Your Skin

The skin is heavily affected by the quality of the blood and the body’s temperature balance. One of the most common reasons for irritated, red skin conditions is called “blood heat.” This occurs when blood, which is meant to be a nourishing, cooling, yin substance becomes too hot and leads to inflammation in the body.

Dampness and Skin Conditions

Dampness causes many issues in the body, including certain skin conditions. When the skin becomes puffy, swollen, or raised, dampness is often involved. Dampness is also present in conditions with pus or fluids, such as cystic acne and some types of psoriasis.

Yin and Hair Loss

Hair loss, thinning, or early graying can be a sign of poor yin quality. Yin nourishes the hair, giving it strength, abundance, and luster. A lack of yin and blood will often show first in the quality of the skin, hair, and nails.

Zang Fu Organ Systems and Skin Health


The Lung system is most closely related to the skin. When treating the skin, Chinese medicine often also supports and balances the Lungs.

Spleen, Stomach, Large Intestine:

The skin is also closely related to the health of our digestive system, namely the Spleen, Stomach, and Large Intestine. Poor Spleen health often leads to a build-up of dampness which can cause breakouts and irritation. The Stomach is susceptible to heat and inflammation, often showing up on the face as acne, cysts, or elsewhere as redness and itching. The Large Intestine has the job of eliminating toxic waste from the body, but a sluggish digestive tract leads to heat, stagnation, and excess toxins.

Common Skin Condition Treatments in Chinese Medicine

Skin conditions improve the best with a well-rounded approach to treatment. While topical creams and supplements may make a helpful difference in the symptoms of skin conditions, addressing the internal environment of the body is the only way to make substantial and long-lasting changes. Chinese herbs are used to rebalance the body from the inside out.

Acupuncture helps to reduce heat, inflammation, stress, and encourage a healthy digestion. It also directs a healthy flow of blood to the skin.

Nutrition and food choices is also important in reversing skin conditions. There are some key tips to follow (such as reducing fried and spicy foods) but nutritional therapy takes each individual’s unique constitution and condition into account. Other lifestyle habits (like sleep schedules and personal product choice) may also be addressed.

Chinese Herbal Medicine Formulas for Skin Conditions

When it comes to dermatology, Chinese herbology shines. Difficult and complex conditions like psoriasis, vitiligo, and eczema that fail to see results with conventional medicine often improve with the whole-body approach of herbal medicine. Herbs are used both internally in the form of tea or pills, or externally with herbal creams and tinctures. While external/topical products focus on eliminating symptoms, the internal formulas work to re-establish a healthy balance in the body to heal the skin conditions from the root.

Margarite Acne Pills (Zhen Zhu An Chuang)

Indicated for those with acne marked by redness with hardened pimples/distinct hardening of the skin. Kelp seaweed (Hai Dai) breaks up the masses, while the other herbs clear heat and cool the blood. Crushed pearl (Zhen Zu) is added as it is considered a beauty tonic for the skin (see section below).

Xiao Feng San Wan

This formula clears wind-damp from the skin to temporary relief from the pain and itching of urticaria (allergic itching or hives), eczema, psoriasis, ampicillin-induced rash and most allergic or hypersensitivity-induced skin reactions.

Bei Xie Sheng Shi Wan

This formula clears damp heat toxins from the skin and is indicated for acute skin inflammations marked by raised whorls, redness, itching, and greasy exudate (e.g. weeping eczema and other slow-healing, oozing sores/wounds).

Dang Gui Yin Zi Wan

This formula addresses chronic skin conditions with dry, scaly, or thickened skin (e.g. eczema & psoriasis) due to Chronic blood deficiency (“blood dryness”)

Dan Shen Huo Xue Wan

This formula tonifies blood and clears heat to address presentations with red, inflamed skin and itching. It is especially useful in cases of acute eczema and hives and for chronic psoriasis.

Lian Qiao Bai Du Tablets: This formula is an effective and popular formula to address acute itching from allergic hives and eczema. It also contains antimicrobial herbs that clear heat which make it a good choice to address pedatric measles, chicken pox, rubella, and roseola.

Chinese Single Herbs for Skin Conditions

The following are important herbs used in our popular formulas for skin conditions:

Dang gui/Chinese Angelica root:

Dang gui is a commonly used herb in many skin condition formulas because of its effect on the blood. Dang gui nourishes the blood, while also helping it flow smoothly. This helps to enhance the quality and health of the skin.

Zhen zhu mu/ pearl powder:

Zhen zhu mu, or pearl powder, is an ancient Chinese remedy for skin conditions. It is most famous for helping to reduce acne and give the skin a gorgeous glow.

Yi mu cao/ Motherwort herb:

Yi mu cao is a cooling and circulating herb that is used in formulas to reduce inflammation and itching of the skin.

Shop our Collection of Chinese Herbal Medicines for Skin Conditions

Skin conditions like acne or psoriasis can greatly affect your quality of life. If conventional medicine has not helped you overcome your skin troubles, or you are looking for a more natural way to achieve healthy skin, Chinese medicine has your holistic solution. Shop our collection of Chinese herbal formulas that improve skin conditions and enhance hair growth.