Skin disorders are an unpleasant inconvenience at best. They can be itchy, ugly and painful and will often be the cause of irritability, low self esteem and insomnia.
Acupuncture and predominately Chinese herbal medicine aims to calm, clear and return the skin to a normal state of health. The more common skin disorders we see are acne, psoriasis, eczema, herpes zoster (shingles), herpes simplex and urticaria.
Acne is no fun as a teenager, it’s definitely not fun as an adult. We often hear “It’s not fair, I’m in my 30’s and I’m still getting acne!”
When taking on acne treatment as a teenager or adult its important to understand that our skin is a major detoxing organ. You can think of acne as our bodies way of dumping unwanted toxins.
Past clinical experience has shown at the beginning of the treatment there is likely to be one or two big break outs as your body starts to cleanse and balance hormonally. These breakouts normally heal faster than usual. The healing process will then follow a breakout/clear skin pattern similar to what you would normally have. However you should notice the breakouts becoming less intense and the clear skin window lasting longer until minimal to no breakouts occur.
Herpes zoster and simplex
Herpes zoster (shingles) has been known to respond well to acupuncture. In the occasional case we have seen a lesion clear with one only one acupuncture treatment. More commonly we see the inflammation and pain reduce quickly after the first treatment and clear within two or three treatments.
Herpes simplex normally requires herbal medicine as well as acupuncture to manage it well. The aim of the treatment here is two fold. Firstly we aim to strengthen and balance the body so the virus stays latent, stopping any further breakouts. And secondly we treat symptomatically to control and clear any breakouts that do occur. These treatments are safe during pregnancy and can be used to prevent a breakout of genital herpes occurring around the time of birth.
Often diagnosed as dermatitis eczema is a broad definition for inflamed skin. It can be incredibly itchy and dry, the skin will bleed or weep easily causing great discomfort and/or insomnia . There are different types of eczema many of which are associated with allergies, asthma, hay fever and urticaria. This association makes plenty of sense in Chinese Medicine theory. We find acupuncture and herbal treatments can be useful to help calm and heal the skin while strengthening the immune system.
Psoriasis is a stubborn, relatively common autoimmune disorder. In Chinese Medicine it is attributed to too much heat causing over proliferation of skin cells. We find committing to daily herbal medicine and regular acupuncture treatments will give you the greatest chance of success.
Being a stubborn condition it can take many months to resolve. However you can expect to see positive changes by 4 weeks of treatment with less redness and itching. By 6 weeks you would expect to see a reduction in scaling and small lesions. The larger lesions will break up from the middle and start to resolve after 8-12 weeks depending on the severity and length of time they have been present.
Case Study: 37 year old male. Psoriasis for 18 years.
Psoriasis initially developed in late teens. The lesions on his elbows and knees have been present continuously for the past 18 years. 9 months ago he developed small itchy lesions over his back, arms, legs, face and scalp. They were progressively getting worse when he came for treatment. With daily herbs and monthly acupuncture treatment the small lesions cleared completely by 4 months. The larger lesions that had been present for years slowly broke up and resolved. By the end of 12 months of treatment the psoriasis was cleared except for faint lesions on the knees and elbows. The skin is the best it has been since the psoriasis first started 18yrs earlier.