Holistic TCM Dermatology: Seborrhoeic Dermatitis


Seborrhoeic dermatitis, or seborrhoeic eczema, and sebopsoriasis are both common chronic conditions which can fully resolve with treatment by holistic, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) dermatology.


Dandruff is an early form of seborrhoeic dermatitis, without the presence of inflammation, and is also treatable by TCM.


How do I know if I have seborrhoeic dermatitis?


In infants, often called “cradle cap”, it presents with a salmon-pink rash and greasy scales, most often on the scalp but it can also appear in the armpit and groin areas. Itch is uncommon.


In adults we see the same salmon-pink scaling rash on the scalp, face, chest, back, armpits, groin folds, and genital creases. It may improve in the summertime with sun exposure. Even if the rash spares the face, many adults notice a combination of oily and dry facial skin around the nose and forehead.


What would a dermatologist recommend?


There are several options in conventional treatment of seborrhoeic dermatitis:

  • keratolytic products (salicyc acid, lactic acid, propylen glycol, etc)

  • topical antifungals (ketoconazole, ciclopirox shampoo, and others)

  • topical corticosteroids

  • topical calcineurin inhibitors (pimecrolimus cream, tacrolimus ointment)

  • oral antifungal (itraconazole)

  • oral antibiotic therapy (tetracycline)

  • phototherapy

  • oral vitamin A derivative (isotretinoin)


How does holistic TCM dermatology treat seborrhoeic dermatitis?


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


Sometimes seborrhoeic dermatitis appears orangey-red with powdery white scales. For others it may appear yellow and oozy with almost no scaling. One person may experience frequent constipation and red, sore eyes. Another might experience heartburn and restlessness at night. These differences in presentation are significant, and each case is treated differently by TCM.


TCM herbal treatment for seborrhoeic dermatitis is potent and focused on the present symptoms. Treatment does not stop as soon as the inflammation subsides, but it does reach a conclusion - there's no need to consume the herbal treatment forevermore. 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, seborrhoeic dermatitis is unlikely to return again.


Am I a good candidate for holistic TCM dermatology?


It is important to understand that the causes of seborrhoeic dermatitis are much deeper than the skin. This condition responds very well to TCM, but complete holistic treatment may take up to 6 months and cost between $100 and $400 or more. The cost for each individual will vary depending on the severity and chronicity of their condition.


It is helpful to think of this process 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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