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Home > Research > Dermatology

Chinese Reports on the Treatment of Various Dermatological Conditions

Translated by Bob Flaws, Dipl. Ac., Dipl. C.H., FNAAOM

COMP Designation:

Functionally translated abstracts using a standard transitional terminology of TCM technical terms based on Nigel Wiseman's Glossary of Chinese Medical Terms and Acupuncture Points, Paradigm Press, Brookline, MA, 1990.


The following articles have been abstracted from various recent Chinese TCM journals. They describe clinical audits of the treatment of various dermatological conditions using specific protocols. The diseases discussed include female genital sores, pediatric eczema, baldness, and blepharitis.

Female Genital Sores

"The Chinese Medicinal Treatment of 21 Cases of (Female) Genital Sores" by Hong Jian-nan & Wang Ru, Zhong Yi Za Zhi (The Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine), #2, 1994, p. 98.

According to the authors, the modern Western medical conditions of Bartholin's cyst, vulval abscesses, postpartum infection of an episiotomy wound, and other such bacterial infections are types of acute pyogenic, inflammatory conditions which TCM simply refers to as yin chuang, (female) genital sores. From 1986-1991, the authors treated 21 cases using Chinese medicinals which clear heat and quicken the blood with entirely satisfactory results.

Of the 21 women treated, there were 15 cases of Bartholin's cysts, 4 cases of postpartum infection of episiotomy wounds, and 2 cases of vulval or external genital abscesses. The youngest patient was 20 years old and the oldest was 65. Two women were unmarried and 19 were married. The shortest course of disease was 4 days and the longest was more than 1 year. In most of the patients, on examination, there was either open wounds or obvious redness, swelling, heat, and pain in the local region. In those women with postpartum infections of episiotomy wounds, the largest lesion was 10cm x 4cm x 3cm and the smallest was 4cm x 2cm x 2cm.

The formula used consisted of: Cortex Phellodendri (Huang Bai), 30g, Radix Sophorae Flavescentis (Ku Shen), 30g, Rhizoma Coptidis Chinensis (Huang Lian), 6g, Fructus Forsythiae Suspensae (Lian Qiao), 15g, Radix Rubrus Paeoniae Lactiflorae (Chi Shao), 30g, Radix Salviae Miltiorrhizae (Dan Shen), 30g, and Lignum Sappanis (Su Mu), 30g.

These Chinese medicinals were soaked in water for 30 minutes. Then more water was added in order to cover these medicinals to a depth of 3cm. They were next decocted down to 20ml. Each ji was decocted 3 times and the decocted fluid added together. This fluid was then allowed to cool to 35-37_C. Each evening before sleep, the patients took a sitz bath in this medicinal fluid. If there was an open wound, each day, after the doctors made their rounds (i.e., in the morning), the wound was rinsed with Coptis and Phellodendron water. Afterwards, Hong Fen Gao (Mercuric Oxide Paste) was applied to transform putrefaction and generate (new) flesh. Ten days equaled one course of treatment.

All 21 cases were cured with this treatment and all their symptoms disappeared. Four cases were cured in one course of treatment, 15 cases in two courses of treatment, and two cases in two courses of treatment.

Case history: Zhang X, female, 26 years old. The patient had had a postpartum infection of an episiotomy wound for nine days before being admitted to the hospital. The affected area was red, swollen, hot, and painful. The wound was approximately 4cm x 2cm x 2cm in size. It exuded a copious amount of pus. Treatment was given as described above. Three days later, the superficial skin was beginning to heal. Yu Hong Gao (Jade Red Paste) was applied to generate flesh and close the wound. Five days later, there was no further bacterial growth. After two courses of treatment, the disease was cured and the patient was discharged from the hospital.

Pediatric Eczema

"The Treatment of Pediatric Eczema with Shu Feng Qu Shi Tang (Course Wind, Eliminate Dampness Decoction)" by Zhan Nai-jun, Zhe Jiang Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Zhejiang Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine), #6, 1994, p. 262.

The author of this article has used Shu Feng Qu Shi Tang in the treatment of 36 cases of pediatric eczema (shi zhen) with entirely good results. Of the 36 cases, 22 were boys and 14 were girls. The course of disease had lasted from as long as one month to as short as one week with an average duration of 10 days. Eleven cases also had cough and panting (i.e., asthma), diarrhea, and other such diseases.

Shu Feng Qu Shi Tang consisted of: Caulis Lonicerae Japonicae (Ren Dong Teng), 9g, stir-fried Radix Scutellariae Baicalensis (Dan Qin), Periostracum Cicadae (Chan Yi), stir-fried Fructus Citri Seu Ponciri (Zhi Ke), and Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae (Chen Pi), 2g @, processed Bambyx Batryticatus (Jiang Can) and Cortex Radicis Dictamni (Bai Xian Pi), 6g @, stir-fried Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae (Bai Zhu), stir-fried Rhizoma Atractylodis (Cang Zhu), and Herba Agastachis Seu Pogostemmi (Huo Xiang), 5g @. If heat was heavy, Cortex Gardeniae Jasminodis (Zhi Zi Pi) and Rhizoma Imperatae Cylindricae (Bai Mao Gen) were added. If wind was severe, Radix Ledebouriellae Sesloidis (Fang Feng) and Folium Mori Albi (Sang Ye) were added. If dampness was severe, Semen Coicis Lachryma-jobi (Mi Ren) was added. And if the bowel movements were rough or coarse with foul smelling flatulence, carbonized Fructus Crataegi (Shan Zha Tan) was added.

Of the 36 cases, 34 were completely cured after taking the above medicinals internally for one week. The other two patients were cured after taking it for half a month.

Case history: Girl, 5.5 months old. Eczema had broke out half a month previously. Originally it had been on the head and face but had spread to the four limbs. Her spirit was vexed and her sleep was restless. When the lesions were scratched, a fatty water flowed. Her appetite was good, her stools were dry, there was smelly flatulence, yellowish urine, a white, slimy tongue coating, and her fingernails were pale purplish. In order to course wind and eliminate dampness aided by leveling the liver, she was given the basic formula minus Rhizoma Atractylodis (Cang Zhu) and Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae (Chen Pi) but with Flos Chrysanthemi Morifolii (Gan Ju), 6g, Fructus Tribuli Terrestris (Bai Ji Li), 9g, Folium Lophatheri Gracilis (Dan Zhu Ye), 5g, and Medulla Junci Effusi (Chen Deng Xin), 2 bundles. The child was given 3 ji.

On the return examination after taking the above medicinals, the lesions on the head and face were still apparent but the itching sensation was markedly diminished. At night, her sleep was more restful, her appetite was good, and her stools were loosish one to two times per day. At this time, her tongue coating was thin and slimy. Therefore, Rhizoma Atractylodis, Pericarpium Citri Reticulatae, and Pericostracum Cicadae were removed from the basic formula and stir-fried Semen Coicis Lachryma-jobi (Mi Ren), stir-fried Fructus Germinatus Oryzae Sativae (Gu Ya), Sclerotium Poriae Cocos (Fu Ling), and stir-fried Semen Dolichos Lablabis (Bian Dou), 9g @, and Fructus Kochiae Scopariae (Di Fu Zi), 6g, were added in order to strengthen the fortifying of the spleen and transforming of the dampness. After 4 ji of the above formula, the eczema was cured.

According to the author, this disease is known as milk tinea (nai xuan) in TCM. Usually it is due to fetal fire and damp heat. Internally, it is caused by damp heat internally smoldering, while externally it is due to wind evils externally invading. Thus wind and dampness become depressed in the flesh and exterior causing the onset of this disease. Because children's spleens are normally insufficient, it is not appropriate to use too many bitter, cold ingredients. Rather one should mainly use sweet, cold ones. In this formula, Caulis Lonicerae and a small amount of Scutellaria are the main medicinals for clearing wind, damp, and heat evils. Folium Mori and Periostracum Cicadae course the wind and clear heat. Bombyx Batryticatus and Dictamnus eliminate wind dampness and stop itching. Orange Peel and Agastaches aromatically and fragrantly arouse the stomach and eliminate dampness. While the two Atractylodes and Citrus Seu Poncirus transport the spleen, rectify the qi, and eliminate dampness at its root. When wind evils are coursed and damp heat eliminated, there are the results.


"The Treatment of 30 Cases of Baldness with Shen Ying Yang Zhen Tang (Divinely Responding Nourishing the True Decoction)" by Chen Dan-feng, Hu Bei Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Hubei Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine), #1, 1994, p. 49.

From 1982-1991, the author treated 30 cases of baldness with Shen Ying Yang Zhen Tang with good results. Of the 30 cases, 19 were men and 11 were women. Their ages ranged from 10 to 58 years old. The course of their disease had lasted from 20 days to half a year. The area of baldness ranged from as large as the whole head to as small as 2cm x 2.5cm.

Shen Ying Yang Zhen Tang was composed of: Rhizoma Gastrodiae Elatae (Tian Ma), Radix Albus Paeoniae Lactiflorae (Bai Shao), Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui), Semen Cuscutae (Tu Si Zi), Fructus Chaenomelis Lagenariae (Mu Gua), prepared Radix Rehmanniae (Shu Di), 10g @, Radix Ligustici Wallichii (Chuan Xiong), Radix Et Rhizoma Notopetrygii (Qiang Huo), 7g .

If there was blood heat, prepared Rehmannia was changed to raw Radix Rehmanniae (Sheng Di) and Flos Chrysanthemi Morifolii (Ju Hua) was added. If there was blood vacuity, Radix Polygoni Multiflori (Shou Wu), 15g, was added and the amounts of Dang Gui and prepared Rehmannia were doubled. These were decocted in water and administered, 1 ji per day divided into two doses.

Of the 30 cases, 25 were cured. This meant that the hair on their entire heads grew back in, long and full. Three cases experienced marked improvement. This meant that the falling out of new hair stopped, the hair that they had grew long, but that no new hair grew back in the areas that had balded. Two cases got no results.

Blepharitis (Sty)

"The Treatment of 36 Cases of Sty with Xian Fang Hou Ming Yin Jia Jian (Immortal Formula, Quicken Destiny Drink with Additions & Subtractions)" by Bo Yu-min, Hu Bei Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Hubei Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine), #3, 1994, p. 57.

Xian Fang Huo Ming Yin is a formula used in the external medicine department for yong and ju which are red, swollen, and painful or, in other words, yang in nature. The author has used this formula with additions and subtractions for the past five years to treat blepharitis with completely good results. Among the 36 patients so treated, 20 were men and 16 were women. Their ages ranged from 9 to 58 years old. Fourteen cases presented with sties on their right upper eyelids, six on their right lower lids, 13 on their left upper lids, and three on their left lower lids. The course of their disease ranged from two to four days. All the sties were red, swollen, hot, and painful without the discharge of pus.

The formula used consisted of: Flos Lonicerae Japonicae (Er Hua), 30g, Herba Cum Radice Taraxaci Mongolici (Pu Gong), Fructus Forsythiae Suspensae (Lian Qiao), 20g @, Radix Angelicae Sinensis (Dang Gui), Herba Violae Yedoensis (Di Ding), 15g @, Radix Ledebouriellae Sesloidis (Fang Feng), Rhizoma Coptidis Chinensis (Huang Lian), 10g @, processed Resina Myrrhae (Zhi Mo Yao), Radix Rubrus Paeoniae Lactiflorae (Chi Shao), Squama Manitis Pentadactylis (Chuan Shan Jia), Radix Et Rhizoma Rhei (Da Huang), 6g @. These dosages were reduced for children. One ji was administered per day, decocted in water and given in divided doses morning and evening. After being decocted twice, the herbs were wrapped in cloth and applied while still damp and hot to the affected eyelid for 15 minutes each time, two times per day.

All 36 cases were cured using this treatment. Twelve were cured in two days, 17 were cured in three days, five were cured in four days, and two were cured in five days.

According to the author, blepharitis is a commonly seen disease in the opthamology department. It is mostly due to overeating acrid, hot, thick-flavored foods. This causes smoldering heat in the spleen and stomach. If this become depressed for some time, it will transform into fire and attack the lids of the eyes above. It is also possible for externally invading wind evils settling in the eyelids. This results in loss of regularity between the constructive and defensive with qi and blood stagnation and stasis. The vessels and network vessels become obstructed and stagnant and the transformative heat may also give rise to this disease.

In this formula, Lonicera, Forsythia, Dandelion, and Viola clear heat and resolve toxins. Coptis and Rhubarb clear heat and drain fire. Ledebouriella scatters wind and conducts the other medicinals to move upward. Dang Gui, Red Peony, and Myrrh transform stasis, disperse swelling, and tranquilize pain. Squama Manitis opens the channels, quickens the network vessels, and breaks hardness. While Licorice resolves toxins and harmonizes the other medicinals. Therefore, taken as a whole, this formula's functions are to clear heat and resolve toxins, quicken the blood and dispel wind.

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