Eczema is often worse in the winter because of the dry air. But some people only get eczema in the winter. In Chinese medicine, when eczema occurs only in the winter it is called winter dermatitis.
Acupuncture and Chinese herbal therapies can help reduce the symptom intensity and frequency by correcting correcting imbalances in the body. Once the imbalances are removed, the body can work to heal itself.
Here’s one patient’s story.
This patient was a woman in her early 30’s. She was experiencing raised red and scabbed lesions on her hands which were which were very itchy. At times there was a thin and watery discharge. There was a direct relationship between the temperature and the irritation– the colder the temperature, the worse the inflammation. The spots lay only on the hands between the thumb and the index finger, at the acupuncture point Large Intestine 4.
She had the condition for a couple years and did not know why. It generally begins in the early winter and continues until May or June, when it warms up again. At first, believing it was an allergy she tried different soap and skin products with no help. Every year since it began, it was getting worse
The issue was an imbalance of the Qi (or energy), which is very common in winter dermatitis. In this case, there was not enough qi.
Qi serves to warm the body and to moisten the skin. In the winter, the qi is working harder to warm the body. If there is too little qi it will not have enough to go around. So it is difficult to also moisten, which then can result in irritation and rashes.
Treatments with both herbs and acupuncture are most effective. The acupuncture included points for moving the qi, clearing heat, and boosting the qi, such as Du 20, LI 4, LI 10, SJ 5, LIV 2, Sp 9, Sp 6. I have written about how acupuncture can enhance immunity. It may also help to regulate autoimmune conditions through the similar neurological and immunological mechanisms.
The herbal formula is a modified version of the All Inclusive Tonifing Formula. It is focused on boosting the qi of the body. This formula has many herbs that regulate the immune system such as ginseng, astragalus, and licorice.
Results: After the first acupuncture treatment and herbs, the lesions began to disappear. She returned every other week over the course of the next 3 month. Although, there were some days of intense itching, it was generally less itchy. The lesions disappeared quicker, earlier, and more completely than in previous years.
We stopped treatment over the summer when the rashes disappeared. Treatment then resumed in October of the following year to prevent them from recurring in the winter.
In some cases, the dermatitis will be cured. In others, people will need preventative treatments during the winter months. It depends on how deep and how long the imbalance has been present.