Holistic Dermatology: Pompholyx (Dishydrotic) Eczema

Pompholyx eczema, or dyshidrotic eczema, is a chronically recurring inflammatory skin condition which can fully resolve with treatment by holistic, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) dermatology.


How do I know if I have pompholyx eczema?


Small red or flesh-colored bumps form on the palms of the hands and between the fingers, occasionally on the soles of the feet. They almost always appear symmetrically and are almost always extremely itchy. The bumps expand and erupt then dry out, get red, and gradually fade. Often another eruption follows, and this continues in a cyclic manner. Sometimes large blisters form or cracks in the skin which may ooze. It is important to differentiate this form of eczema from


contact dermatitis, atopic eczema, and fungal infection.


Pompholyx is thought to be caused by allergies, stress, or excessive hand washing. It is annoying - we use our hands all the time.


What would a dermatologist recommend?


Standard treatment is a topical steroid cream, which temporarily prevents cells from producing inflammatory chemicals. This can very effectively relieve itching and irritation, and it can help prevent infection as a result of frequent itching and broken skin. It will not prevent the eczema from returning.


The topical drugs tacrolimus and pimecrolimus are sometimes recommended, as well as UV light exposure. All three work by suppressing the immune system, which temporarily halts the inflammatory process.


Like most immune-mediated inflammatory disorders, there is no cure for pompholyx eczema.


How does holistic TCM dermatology treat pompholyx eczema?


TCM has been treating inflammatory skin conditions for millennia using acupuncture, herbal medicine, and a corresponding holistic approach to diet and lifestyle. As with any condition, your practitioner will take a detailed health history and consider all systems before coming to a holistic pattern diagnosis.



Sometimes pompholyx eczema is dry, red, and really itchy. For others it may be yellow and oozy, and less intensely itchy. One person with pompholyx may be type A, stressed, and with insomnia. Another might be overworked and fatigued and suffer with digestive problems. These differences in presentation are significant, and each case is treated differently by TCM.


TCM herbal treatment for pompholyx is potent and focused on the present symptoms. Treatment does not stop as soon as the skin stops itching. Initially, herbal ingredients may behave much like antibiotics, manipulating bacteria in the GI tract. A second phase of ingredients will focus on reestablishing a healthy balance of bacteria and boosting immune function. With a thorough course of treatment that moves through these phases of care, pompholyx is unlikely to return again.


Am I a good candidate for holistic TCM dermatology?


It is important to understand that the causes of pompholyx eczema are much deeper than the skin. Complete holistic treatment can take up to 6 months and cost between $100 and $400. The cost for each individual will vary depending on the severity and chronicity of their condition.


Think of it as immune system rehabilitation. Natural, safe, and sometimes slow medicine.


If you have questions about how holistic TCM dermatology can help you, schedule a free consultation online or by calling (971) 341-9546.


Betsy Gordon Acupuncture in Portland, Oregon specializes in holistic dermatology and the treatment of digestive, autoimmune, and allergic conditions. She provides a treatment plan which brings together traditional Chinese and functional medicine approaches.


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