Solving Skin Problems: Natural Remedies to Try

Go beyond skin deep and discover common skin problems. Here’s how to remedy these conditions naturally and boost your overall health at the same time.

A young woman looking at her reflection in the mirror, looking upset and touching her cheek with her finger

In the English language, the phrase “skin-deep” describes something superficial or shallow. In reality, the human skin has many layers and plays a profound role in our health and wellness. This is why it is crucial to get treatment for any skin problems as soon as possible. 

In this article, let’s discuss the characteristics and functions of our skin, common skin problems, and how to treat them naturally.

Functions of the Skin

As the body’s largest organ, human skin consists of three layers of tissues: epidermis, dermis and subcutis. Our skin has multiple functions:  

  • Since the skin covers our entire body, it acts as a protective barrier between internal organs and the outside environment. It’s our first line of defence against UV rays, chemicals, infections, germs, and cuts. Because of this, our skin plays a significant role in our immune system.  
  • It regulates body temperature through the blood vessels and sweat glands. When it gets too hot, our skin will cool us down by transferring the heat out of the body and producing sweat.  
  • It is responsible for our sense of touch
  • When exposed to UV rays, it manufactures vitamin D, which is essential for calcium absorption. Vitamin D does more than just promote healthy bones – it also prevents cancer, heart disease, obesity, and neurological diseases.  
  • The condition of our skin mirrors what’s happening inside our body. For instance, the appearance of yellow skin may signal jaundice.

Skin Problems and Their Causes

A man staring at his reflection in the mirror, checking his skin problems
Men are more prone to specific skin problems.

Our skin is susceptible to issues and diseases, ranging from harmless to fatal. In total, there are more than 3000 possible skin disorders. The following factors contribute to some of the most common skin problems in both men and women:

1. YinYang Imbalance

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that there are two opposite yet complementary forces inside our body: yin (passive energy) and yang (active energy). Yin is a calm and cool nourishing force, while yang is a warm, active, and invigorating force. To achieve ultimate health, the yin and yang must be in balance.

However, women are more likely to experience yang deficiency (excess yin). This usually happens during their period, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. But as a woman ages, they will lose yin gradually, which can manifest as menopause symptoms like hot flashes.  

On the other hand, men have excess yang (or yin deficit). As a man ages, they will lose yang gradually as well. As yang is related to heat, it causes a man’s skin to accumulate more dampness. Too much heat can cause oil gland secretion, creating skin problems like acne rosacea that can develop into rhinophyma. Excess yang also causes other skin issues like ringworm and psoriasis.

2. Stress

People who find themselves in stressful situations sometimes develop habits that harm their skin. For example, scratching can cause dermatitis and nail-biting can lead to infection. From TCM’s point of view, stress can also result in qi (vital life energy) stagnation, presenting as chloasma on the skin.

 3. Alcohol

Alcohol consumption enlarges blood vessels. This is why people who drink alcohol tend to have a reddened complexion. In severe cases, the damage on their blood vessels causes bigger oil glands and, therefore, larger pores. Moreover, alcohol drinkers may suffer from liver diseases like cirrhosis, which causes yellow skin. According to TCM, alcohol also adds to the heat and dampness in the body, which lead to skin problems.

4. Body Piercing, Tattoo & Skincare Products 

In some cases, body piercing, tattoo, and skincare products can cause infections and allergic reactions.

5. Bad Hygiene 

Poor hygiene affects the skin. So, taking regular showers can help reduce the chance of contracting skin diseases. It’s essential to maintain your hygiene after a heavy exercise to prevent infections caused by bacteria and fungi.

6. Vitamin Deficiency & Hydration 

Lacking nutrition and water can impact all parts of your body, including your skin. Some of the vitamins you can consume to maintain healthy skin are Vitamin A, Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pyridoxine (B6), Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vitamin D.

7. Smoking  

In general, smoking is bad for your overall health, and it shows on your skin. For example, cigarettes and tobacco cause uneven skin tone. In the long run, chronic smokers can also develop the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). When this occurs, they will suffer from shortness of breath, causing the skin to turn blue from the lack of oxygen.

8. UV Radiation 

While the skin generates vitamin D from sunlight, exposure to the sun and UV radiation can affect your skin condition. Sun exposure is also the leading cause of skin cancers. Using sunscreen can help to maintain your healthy skin.

Natural Treatments for Skin Problems

A young girl with her back facing the camera looking happily at her reflection in a mirror in front of her
Natural remedies can effectively alleviate some common skin problems.

In TCM, many herbs effectively help to treat a myriad of skin problems, such as: 

  • healthy-looking skin: bird’s nest – for centuries, this delicacy has been coveted for its ability to promote healthy skin.  
  • acne: forsythia, dandelion, coix seed, and red peony root. 
  • ringworm: rhubarb. 
  • rhinophyma: loquat leaf, mulberry root bark. 
  • psoriasis caused by blood stasis (dark, thick, hard scales on the skin): Tao Hong Si Wu Tang. 
  • psoriasis caused by blood heat (reddish, itchy skin): rehmannia, red peony root, and tree peony root cortex. 

TCM also offers acupuncture to resolve skin problems. Acupuncture needles can boost collagen and elastin production when inserted into the skin. Furthermore, the practice mainly fixes internal issues that affect the condition of the skin.

Common skin problems may be treatable with herbs, acupuncture, medications or even surgery. At the same time, you would also need to drop any bad habits that contribute to bad or problematic skin. Smoke less and reduce alcohol intake. Take a shower daily and pay more attention to what you’re putting on your skin by getting hypoallergenic products. Some may think that taking care of the appearance and treating skin problems are a matter of vanity. But it’s time we all realise that our skin is a reflection of our internal organ systems thus to improve our skincare, we should aim to improve our lifestyle and overall health.

This is an adaptation of an article, “Facing The Facts: Tackling Skin Issues”, which first appeared on Eu Yan Sang website.

References

The Conversation. 2018. The skin is a very important (and our largest) organ: what does it do? [online] [Accessed 1 November 2021]  

American Skin Association. Healthy Skin [online] [Accessed 1 November 2021]

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