A Look at Skin Care and TCM: What Your Skin Can Tell You About Your Health

A lot of clients come in with concerns about their skin. They need help for their acne, sensitive skin, redness or pigmentation, eczema, or aging skin.

Most of the time, these conditions can be solved or relieved with the proper skin care product, an ointment or medicated cream. These products treat the skin topically. Often it is not just “skin deep” and there are underlying issues that explain the symptoms.


In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there is an overall belief that everything is related to each other. Every organ in our body work every moment to keep us alive. Our organs are designed to work harmoniously and when one of them are malfunctioning or are damaged, disharmony occurs. We get sick, develop further illness, and experience varying degrees of symptoms.

One of the main systems of thought in TCM is referred to as the Five Element Theory, and it has been used for thousands of years as a method of diagnosis and treatment. It is used to help explain what causes the disease and the associated organs that affect certain symptoms and signs.

Let’s take the skin, for example. It is the largest organ in our body and strongly associated with specific internal organs—it is the biggest and most evident reflection of our internal organs and it would highly be beneficial if we pay more attention to it.

A TCM practitioner can look at your skin and determine if there is an imbalance or other conditions affecting your health.

A Closer Look at Skin and Other Body Organs

1.     The Skin and Lungs

Chinese medicine considers the lungs and its condition as a dominant factor in skin health.

-     When the body is attacked by external Wind and Heat (virus), it will affect the Lung function. The body will develop sneezing or sore throat, and the skin will tend to be itchy or prone to rash.

-       If you smoke for a long time, you will likely develop cough and have phlegm, and dry skin.

2.     The Skin, Heart and Liver

The Heart and Liver dominate the body’s circulation and emotions, and any circulation or emotional issues can affect the skin. This means that if either or both are malfunctioning, it will cause heat and toxins in the blood. Skin flare-ups and other symptoms can manifest themselves during this time, and it can also exacerbate existing skin problems such as acne, eczema or rashes.

3.     The Skin and Kidneys

The Kidneys dominate the body’s original Yin and Yang, which encompasses all stages of the body and the skin. If the Kidney has a Yin and Yang disorder, it is likely to cause the following skin conditions: dry skin, hot flashes (especially around the neck and face) and perspiration.

4.     The Skin and Large Intestine

The Large intestine and Skin are strongly related. If we overeat (including hot and spicy foods) and drink, these may cause a lot of toxin buildup in the intestines. Common skin problems that arise due to intestinal issues include: boils, pimples, rash and itchiness. A person may also experience the following symptoms: constipation, unusually pungent flatulence and bloating.

As you can tell, our skin is not just the body’s first line of defense when it comes to external elements, but it is also a good indicator of what happens internally. At Limina Wellness, we stress the importance of taking care of one’s skin in conjunction with our overall health. They go hand in hand and we can all be in better shape if we learn to address them both.

Susan Lee

Susan Lee is a Diagnostic Intuitive Wellness Coach using an integrative approach. She is also the director of Limina Wellness & a registered acupuncturist.