When the superficial layer of skin (epidermis) becomes dehydrated due to changes in weather, allergic reaction, certain medications, or bathing or showering, it may develop fine flakes and dry patches. The medical term for this condition is called xerodermia or xerosis, and it may be temporary or respond well to moisturizers. But for some, this condition becomes chronic and causes uncomfortable symptoms that require professional medical treatment.
What are the general symptoms of chronic dry skin?
- Tight feeling skin, especially after being immersed in water
- Pruritus (itchiness)
- Flaky or scaly appearance of skin
- Skin discoloration
- Rough patches of skin
- Deep cracks that may bleed
In addition, if chronic dry skin goes untreated, there is a higher risk of secondary conditions like tears in the skin leading to infection, rashes, eczema, cellulitis (serious bacterial infection on the epidermis) or thickening and darkening patches
If you have concerns regarding your symptoms of chronic dry skin, contact your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. In order to prepare for your appointment, you can make a list of all the medications you are currently taking and any allergies you may have. Your practitioner will also need to perform a full medical evaluation to discover what imbalances within your body may be contributing to your symptoms of chronic dry skin. For example, it may be learned that there is a disharmony occurring in your lung, which needs treatment.
According to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, the lung organ has important associations with any condition relating to dryness. One of its primary functions is to lubricate all the other organs, including the skin as this is the largest organ of the body. The skin plays an important role in detoxification. The lung is also known as 'the delicate organ' due to its sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
To further demonstrate the relationship between the lung and dryness, the Neijing, a highly regarded acupuncture and Oriental medicine text, states that 'the lung has a natural aversion to dryness.' Not only is the lung vulnerable to dry conditions, but when affected, it can cause conditions of dryness in other areas of the body. Therefore, a practitioner may diagnose a patient presenting with symptoms of chronic dry skin as having a lung imbalance.
If you are looking for ways to address your skin condition at home, there are a few things that may help. Try avoiding hot and spicy foods like garlic, onion, lamb, ginger and hot peppers. These foods are considered damaging for the fluids of the body if not eaten in moderation. You may also want to invest in a humidifier to add extra moisture in the air. It will not only moisturize your skin, but your lungs as well. Lastly, when you are drying off after bathing, keep the skin slightly wet and apply moisturizer. This may help hold in the moisture.
Find an Acupuncturist near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help ease your symptoms!
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.