Most of us will suffer some kind of skin condition at some time in our lives. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that skin conditions may indicate physiological changes in the body or that we are affected by factors such as stress, lifestyle and dietary habits. At times, they can even be warning signs of something more serious.
Physician Yan Qi from the Eu Yan Sang TCM Clinic at Marina Bay Link Mall says, “All symptoms are related to one another.” For example, a person suffering from constant diarrhoea would be dehydrated from it, leading to dry and flaky skin in the long run. TCM approaches the patient by treating them holistically rather than symptomatically. “For example,” explains Physician Yan, “if you have 10 patients all suffering from eczema, the underlying cause may all be drastically different. TCM’s effectiveness is in the way it caters to each patient’s body type—there is rarely a one-size-fits-all solution.”
To get an idea of how TCM approaches different skin conditions, here is Physician Yan’s take on five common skin problems:
What? It is caused by fungus, microsporum or epidermophyton, and is common in the tropics.
Who? Unhygienic or overweight individuals are especially susceptible to ringworms. Also, people who perspire a lot, are diabetic or have low immunity can also contract ringworms easily.
What now? Grind 120g of Rhubarb and 30g of Dried Alum into powder, then apply directly on affected areas. Alternatively, the medicinal powder can be mixed with vegetable oil to form a paste.
What? It is a form of skin discolouration.
Who? People who are bad-tempered, have liver issues and who tend to worry a lot.
What now? Control your emotions and think positive.
What? Fat metabolism in the skin and the chronic inflammation of the sebaceous units.
Who? Both male and female youths are susceptible, although it is more common with teenage boys. However, conditions should ease after the age of 20.
What now? Consume less spicy and sweet foods, and ensure regular bowel movement.
What? A form of skin inflammation caused by both internal and external factors; it is characterised by insufferable itching with a high chance of recurrence.
Who? Individuals of all ages are susceptible, although it is more common in people with sensitive skin.
What now? Find the source of the allergy, do not scratch affected area, consume TCM-based anti-allergy medication.
What? Itching with no apparent cause; it can happen locally or all over the body.
Who? Individuals who are emotionally unbalanced are especially susceptible; it is also common among the elderly and those living in dry environments.
What now? Avoid alcohol, coffee and milk tea. Do not scratch affected areas and keep them clean and dry.
This article first appeared in NATURA magazine issue No.8. Find NATURA at Eu Yan Sang retail outlets, newsstands and major bookstores in Singapore.