Blood and yin defi ciency
The skin will be thin, dry and pale, easily injured and slow to heal, with little
or no body hair. When pinched at the forearm, it either feels thin like tissue
paper (more Blood deficient) or hard like leather (more yin deficient). It
will be hypersensitive to the sun or to pain, and would tend to have many
small wrinkles on the thinner areas.
Possible causes of this state include:
■ not drinking water
■ a very low-fat diet
■ the absence of milk products in diet
■ a diet devoid of nutritious foods
■ malabsorption of nutrition due to diabetes mellitus or chronic diarrhoea
(this is caused by either Small Intestine or Spleen Qi deficiency).
Points used to treat thin and dry skin
■ Lu 1, Sp 3 and K 10.
Advice for patients
In order to correct this, both Blood and thin yin fluids need to be tonified.
Useful advice includes:
■ Drink water frequently; some salt is required in the diet so that water is
retained in the body.
■ Consume milk products (especially buttermilk) and proteins, as well as
grains and cooked root vegetables which are easy to digest and absorb.
■ Watery fruits (melon, grapes, pears, etc.) are good for this condition.
■ Some oil should also be used either in cooking, or raw in marinades and
2. THICK, OILY AND RAISED SKIN
The skin will be thick in general, and can also be uneven and oily. Some
areas could be raised compared with others, giving an island-like appearance.
The skin is very greasy, and the sweat is thick, leaving marks on
clothes. This is mostly in the face, neck and upper body. The lower part of
the body is not usually affected in the same way, because the Lungs nourish
the skin – and the Lungs are in the upper warmer area of the body.
Dampness originates in the Spleen, no matter where it manifests.
Possible causes of Spleen dampness are:
■ an excess of fatty foods
■ an excess of refined sugars or carbohydrates
■ and excess of fatty milk products
■ large and heavy evening meals
■ an excess of cold and raw foods.
To rectify this, dampness should be circulated and eliminated.
Points used to treat thick and oily skin
■ Sp 9, St 40, UB 39, Lu 5 sedation.
■ Sp 9 and St 40 are particularly useful.
Advice for patients
■ Avoid fatty foods and refined sugars.
■ Eat only unrefined carbohydrates – sweet fruits, wholemeal bread and
pasta, whole rice, millet, potato with skin.
■ Take few and low-fat milk products.
■ Eat a good breakfast and lunch but have an early, light dinner.
■ Drink warm drinks and eat only warm, cooked foods.
■ Drink water regularly in order to liquefy the thick damp fluid.
3. THICK AND DRY SKIN
Stagnation of dampness and Qi defi ciency
In this case, the skin is thick, uneven and even lumpy, but dry with seborrhoea
on the surface. This means that there is fluid below the skin surface,
but it does not ascend to the surface. The normal function of the skin
is to ascend fluid from under the skin to the surface. Therefore, thick and
dry skin is a symptom of poor function of the Lung – that is, Qi deficiency.
The dampness stagnates under the skin, as it cannot be eliminated.
This is a sign of poor ascending function of the skin, and not necessarily
the descending function. However, it is possible that these patients are also
constipated, as there would be a problem of elimination of stool as well,
because the Large Intestines are connected to the Lungs.
The avoidance of damp-producing foods is essential for treatment,
but more important is to improve skin function (and bowel function) of
Points for treatment
■ Points to improve skin function – UB 13, LI 4 and LI 11.
■ Points to improve bowel function – LI 4, TW 6, St 25.
■ Points to reduce dampness – Sp 9, St 40.
Advice for patients
■ Keep your bowels open – take whole grains, apple or pears (including
skin) daily, and exercise to sweat.
■ Whole rice should be eaten at least twice in a week – it strengthens the
Lung yang and Qi.
■ Take alternating hot and cold showers.
■ Mild spices such as pepper and ginger should be added to diet.
■ Dress according to the climate – do not dress lightly in cold weather and
overdress in hot weather.
4. THIN, DRY AND ITCHY SKIN
Blood and yin defi ciency with wind–heat
Thin and dry skin is hypersensitive to heat or cold, sun, pain and allergens,
and is therefore more likely to be itchy and irritated. This irritating
aspect is called wind, and the redness caused by the manual scratching is
the heat. As the Blood and yin are both deficient and therefore unable to
control the wind and heat, the yang rises from time to time, bringing on
recurrent wind–heat symptoms.
Treatment basically involves preventing this recurrent rise in the
wind and heat by tonifying Blood and yin as in skin type 1 (see p. 19). In
addition, at acute times one could eliminate the heat and wind from
There are excellent wind-eliminating points1 all over the body, which
should be used with wind-elimination sedation technique in this case:
■ GB 20 – from head and face.
■ UB 12 – from back, skin and lungs in general.
■ SI 12 – from shoulders and arms.
■ GB 31 – from hips and legs.
■ Ba Feng points – from hands.
■ Ba Xie points –from feet.
For heat elimination , 2 it is possible to apply distal-point or fingertip bleeding,
depending on the affected area. For example, in a case of eczema on the
hands, fingertip bleeding on the affected meridian will bring about instant
relief from both itching and inflammation.
Foods that aggravate wind symptoms include:
■ acidic foods such as vinegar-based pickles, tomatoes
■ alcohol (particularly red wine)
■ citrus fruits such as lime, lemon, grapefruit
■ foods that are common causes of allergic reactions, such as shellfish and
Foods that often cause heat reactions include:
■ red meat and red fish
■ coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
5. THICK SKIN WITH INFLAMMATION OR PRURITUS
Blood or damp stagnation with heat (damp heat)
Blood or damp stagnation with wind (damp wind)
Damp heat condition of skin is common in acne vulgaris, furunculosis
and varicose ulcers. The dampness manifests as thick, raised skin or as
oedema, and stays fixed in one area. Heat originates from this fixed dampness
in the form of inflammation or, if the skin is open, infection. The cause
for the chronic inflammatory heat is the stagnation of damp, and therefore
the therapy is to circulate, thin out and eliminate the thick fluid.
The heat is localized to the damp areas and needs to be eliminated (if
possible) from these areas.
■ Treat dampness by thinning fluid (so it can flow) – drink water, K 10.
■ Treat dampness by circulating fluid – St 40, UB 20 (needle and cupping),
■ Treat dampness by eliminating fluid – Sp 9, UB 23 (needle and cupping),
K 3, UB 58 (through diuresis).
■ Treat dampness by dispersing fluid – UB 13, LI 4, LI 11 (through sweating).
■ Treat heat by plum-blossom needle tapping to bleed on the local areas.
■ Treat heat by finger- or toe-tip bleeding on affected meridians.
■ Treat heat by dispersing fire-needle technique on local acupuncture points.
Damp wind manifests as eczema (which is in fixed areas such as the neck,
elbow, knee-fold and inguinal area), varicose eczema and functional itching in
any area that is affected by oedema or is covered by clothes. It usually refers
to itching confined to certain areas (a characteristic of damp), rather than
itching all over or in different areas at different times (as in wind character).
Wind is irritating in nature; thus, itching is a wind symptom. The symptom
of damp wind shows that the wind is irritating the skin very close to
its surface and needs to be eliminated by improving the skin function of
opening the skin. The dampness is preventing the skin from functioning
normally, and should therefore be circulated.
Treatment to improve Lung Qi
■ UB 13, LI 11, LI 4 (to open and eliminate).
Treatment to eliminate wind
■ Use wind-eliminating point of the area (see pp. 22, 72, 74).
Treatment to circulate damp
■ St 40, UB 20, UB 39.
6. INFLAMED OR ITCHY SKIN
This situation is similar to the previous, except that there is no thick or
raised skin and no oedema, and symptoms are not necessarily fixed in a
specific area. The treatment, too, is for the heat only in the case of inflammation,
and wind-eliminating points in the case of itching and wandering
sites. The treatment of heat and wind are explained in skin type 4
(p. 22), and the same food restrictions apply as in skin type 4, against the
heat and wind.
7. MIXED SKIN
Spleen Qi defi ciency or Triple Warmer Qi defi ciency
It is very common in people with skin problems for the skin to be oily in
certain places and dry in others. Two patterns occur:
■ Oily skin on face and dry skin on legs. This is a problem between the
three warmers (San Jiao), where there is dampness stagnating in the
upper warmer and yin deficiency in the lower. Treatment would be to
descend the dampness from the upper and tonify the yin in the lower.
■ Patchy skin on the face, where one area is oily and another dry . This
is caused by poor distribution of dampness in the skin surface. Since
peripheral circulation of dampness is a Spleen function, this would be a
symptom of Spleen Qi deficiency.
Treatment of Triple Warmer Qi defi ciency
■ UB 22, UB 39, Lu 5, Sp 6, K 7.
Treatment of Spleen Qi defi ciency
■ UB 20, St 40, Sp 1.
■ Massage the skin surface with light moisturizer to improve circulation.
■ When treating oily skin, some subcutaneous local needling helps.
■ When treating dry areas, better results may be obtained by tonifying the
yin of the organs in that area. For example, dry legs would benefit from
Kidney yin tonification, point K 7; or dry arms with point Lu 9 or H 9.