Case Study for “Winter Itchiness”
by Dr. Chien-Hui Liao
Hong An Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic
Winter itchiness is also called “asteatotic dermatitis” or “xerotic dermatitis”. It is mostly seen on the skin of the exterior side of the limbs, or where the body and clothing rub against each other, such as the front side of the calf, the exterior side of the arm, and on the waist and abdomen where they are bundled by clothing. It may affect people of any age, but more commonly affects the middle-aged and seniors with Qi and blood deficiency. Human skin is similar to the outer skin of an apple. Sweat from the sweat glands provides the stratum corneum with enough water. The oil secreted by the sebaceous glands forms a protective membrane to prevent water from evaporating, just like the wax on the outside of an apple. Thereby, normal skin looks plump and moist like the skin of an apple.
The Qi and blood of the human body have great influence on the sweat glands and sebaceous glands. When the temperature drops in winter, the blood vessels contract and the secretion from the sweat glands become insufficient. Without enough moisture, the skin starts to dry. The secretion of the sebaceous glands also decreases with the decrease in temperature. When the oil that protects the skin decreases, the speed of the water outflow accelerates and makes the dryness condition even worse. The skin will then lose its luster, just like a dried up apple. Small wrinkles start to show first, followed by itchiness, desquamation, coarseness, and finally cracks. Some people scratch too much and end up having wounds, pigmentation, eczema, and even inflammation.
Case and Treatment Record
Patient Record Number: 210xxx
Name: Mr. Lee, male, 51 years old
Initial Visit: 10/18/2011
Chief Complaint: Full body skin itchiness for two months, especially when it is hot. He has obvious itchiness with skin desquamation after taking shower. He is slightly constipated, has a dry mouth and tongue, suffers from insomnia with profuse dreaming, and a tendency to have vexation and agitation.
Tongue and Pulse: Red tongue with thick yellow coating; slippery, rapid pulse
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