Skin Disorder

Causes of Skin Disorders

Skin is a very complicated organ that serves many functions. It is the largest organ of the body. Skin cells have a life cycle. Your body produces new cells in your lowest skin level and these skin cells gradually move up through the layers of your skin until they reach the outermost level. Then they die and flake off. This whole process normally takes around 21 to 28 days.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is a whole system of interconnected parts. Although skin problems manifest externally, their root causes are often complex and involve internal imbalances include: a weak immune system, digestive disorders, poor diet, unbalanced life style, stress, genetic constitution and environmental factors. According to Chinese Medicine, when a chronic condition has settled in the skin, it is an indication that the person's general health has been compromised for quite a long time.

Acne: Acne is a common adolescent skin condition that sometimes continues into adulthood. According to Western medicine, it is generally associated with reactions to hormones, bacteria, and oils in the skin.

Eczema: Eczema, also called atopic dermatitis, is a chronic allergic reaction which causes the skin to become red, inflamed, intensely itchy, and in some cases to blister. People who have eczema often also have asthma or allergies.

Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a skin disorder driven by the immune system, especially involving a type of white blood cell called a T cell. Normally, T cells help protect the body against infection and disease. In the case of psoriasis, T cells are put into action by mistake and become so active that they trigger other immune responses, which lead to inflammation and to rapid turnover of skin cells. As a result, cells build up rapidly on the surface of the skin, causing red, flaky, crusty patches covered with silvery scales. These patches are then shed easily. It can occur on any part of your body although it's most commonly found on the elbows, knees, lower back and the scalp. It can also cause itching and burning.

Other conditions: Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can also be used to treat shingles, vitiligo, uticaria (hives), warts, rosacea, and dermatitis.

Why does acupuncture help?

When there is an imbalance in life-energy, problems develop and an acupuncturist looks to restore balance, which in turn allows the body to heal itself.

Scientific explanations to the results of acupuncture suggest that the needles stimulate deep sensory nerves that release natural pain-killing chemicals known as endorphins. Endorphins give pain-relief and may also trigger anti-inflammatory mechanisms that ease the symptoms of skin disorders. Acupuncture needles also aid relaxation, which is an important part of relieving stress and anxiety. As both these factors are known to trigger skin disorders, acupuncture prevents them occurring which in turn can help stop the skin conditions flaring up.

Other benefits of Acupuncture include strengthening the immune system, thereby decreasing sensitivity to external or environmental hazards and releasing toxins from the skin, thereby eliminating the itchy, red rash.

Many pharmaceutical solutions offer quick relief but do not provide a lasting solution, and come with risks such as toxic build-up in the body and weakening of other organ systems. More and more people are choosing alternative solutions, which are safer and which address the root cause of the symptom instead of covering it up each time it re-appears.

Research & Evidence

Acupuncture treatment for psoriasis: a retrospective case report. Acupuncture and Electro-Therapeutics Research, 1992 Jul-Sep, 17(3):195-208. (UI: 93034519) AT: UCLA siomed wl AC999T (PE title: Acupuncture & electro-therapeutics research.)

Abstract: We treated 61 cases of psoriasis with acupuncture, including 25 patients with complications of joint involvement and two cases with scleroderma additionally. All of the patients had failed to respond to their prior conventional western medical management. 25 patients were males and 36 were females. Their ages ranged from 22 to 84 years, with an average of about 52 years. There was no significant difference of the average ages between the sexes. Most of them (about 61%) had quite extensive involvement of the body. The average of duration of their illness was over 16 years, ranging from two to 65 years.

They received an average of about 16 sessions of acupuncture treatment, ranging from one to 26. With the acupuncture treatment, about one-half (30) of the 61 patients had complete or almost complete clearance of the skin lesions. About a quarter (14 patients) of them had a clearance of about two thirds of the skin lesions. Eight of them had a clearance of one third of the skin lesions. Nine patients had minimal or no improvement.

Conclusion: Acupuncture is an effective therapeutic modality for psoriasis, particularly when the western medical management is unsuccessful.

How long will the treatment take?

The length, number and frequency of treatments will vary depending on duration and severity of the condition. In general, results are sometimes noticed as early as one week into treatment, but often take several months to clear up significantly. This is because it takes longer to balance the body from the inside out, rather than just address the problem topically or temporarily. Depending on the condition, treatment may involve acupuncture, Chinese herbs, or both.