Acupuncture for Dermatologic Disorders
World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress Proceedings, 2009
Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD, MS
Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine, Reddick, FL, USA

Skin diseases are the most challenging problems in the veterinary practice. This topic will present how to use acupuncture, herbal medicine and food therapy for treatment of skin conditions in dogs.


 Case Study--7 YO c/m, Ibizan hound

 Skin problems for past 3 years; using pred, antibiotics, anti-allergy; but still itching, red skin rash

 Worsened this year (spring)

Etiology and Pathology

External Factors

 Wind: Urticaria, skin rash, rubella, itchy, dryness

 Dampness: Papular eruption, excretion, eczema or erosion

 Heat: Red and hot, sore with heat sensation, papular eruption, itching and pain, erosion with pus

 Parasite: Scabies (Jie Man), fungi, intestinal worm, pinworm

 Allergy to food/drug

Internal Factors

 Stagnation: Liver Qi stagnation, or Blood stagnation

 Blood deficiency with Wind and dryness

 Deficiency of Liver & Kidney Yin

Differentiation and Diagnosis

Whole Body

 Pulse: Strong and fast: Heat, Damp-heat or Excess

 Thready/thin: Yin/blood deficiency

 Weak pulse: Blood/Qi deficiency

 Wiry: Stagnation, Wind

 Tongue Red/dry: Heat

 Pale: Blood deficiency

 Yellow: Damp

 Appearance: Heavy/strong: Heat, Damp-heat, or Excess

 Skinny and weak: Deficiency of Yin or Blood


Can be caused by wind, damp, heat, parasite and blood deficiency.

 Wind: upward: head and face

 Varies quickly: spread around the whole body

 Dampness: downward: ventral abdomen, hindlimbs

 Erosion, yellow-watery secretion from the affected area

 The process is relatively long and hard to cure

 Heat-induced itchy: red skin with rash

 Heat + Damp: erosion with odor, extremely itchy

 Parasite-induced itch: widely, skin test

 Blood deficiency-induced itch: thicken-skin, dry/peeling

 The process is mostly chronic


 Heat, or Heat-toxin

 Redness, swelling, heat and pain rightwards arrow Heat or Heat toxin

 Acute inflammation: Red, swelling, erosion, heat, itchy, blister or pus

 Mostly Excess type, Related to lung, spleen and heart

 Chronic inflammation: Dry skin, thick, pigmentation, or losing hair and abnormal toes or nails

 Mostly deficiency, related to liver and kidney

Local Conditions

 Macular eruption (exanthema maculosum):

 Red macula: blood Heat or Blood stagnation

 White macula: Qi stagnation

 Papular eruption: Blood Heat, or Wind-Heat

 Vesiculation: Damp-Heat, Heat toxin

 Pus-pocket: Extreme Heat toxin

 Tuberculum: Qi and Blood stagnation

 Urticaria: Red (or darker) urticaria: Wind-Heat

 White (or lighter) urticaria: Wind-Cold

 Dandruff/Squama: Heat, or Skin Wind due to Blood deficiency

 Erosion: Damp-Heat

 Crusta: Heat-toxin

 Crack (rhagades): Wind-Dryness due to Blood deficiency

 Lichenification: Blood deficiency

Body Regions

 Upper: Wind or Wind-Heat

 Middle: Qi stagnation or Heat/Fire

 Lower: Damp-Heat, or Cold-Damp

Special Areas

 Nasal skin conditions: Lung

 Lips: Spleen and stomach

 Hypochondriac and genital: Liver

Patterns and Treatment

I. Wind-Heat

 Etiology and Pathology: Seasonal allergy, pollen/food allergy, springtime, External wind/Heat invasion, pruritus, contact dermatitis, flea allergy dermatitis

 Clinical Signs: Worse in spring and summer, pruritus, itching, scratching (upper part); Tongue: red or slight dry; Pulse: Wiry or fast

 Food Therapy: Cool/cold diets

 Chinese Herbal Medicine: Xiao Feng San or Wind-Heat toxin

 Acupuncture Points: GB-20, BL-10/11/12, BL-17, SP-10, Er-jian, Wei-jian

 Other Supplements: Flax seed oil, barley green powder

II. Damp-Heat

 Etiology and Pathology: Dermatitis, eczema, skin rash/itching, otitis, hot spot

 Clinical Signs: .Eruption, erosion, redness; thick/yellow excretion with stink smell; Itching, scab formation or alopecia; Pulse: Forceful, rapid; Tongue : Red

 Food Therapy: Cool/cold diets

 Chinese Herbal Medicine: Damp Heat Skin formula

 Acupuncture Points: Er-jian, Wei-jian, SP-6/9, ST-40, BL-17, SP-10

 Other Comments: Fast one day a week

Table 1. Cold or cool diets and food.

Meats, oil & sausage

Grains and beans


Fruits and tea





Deep Ocean fish, cod

Brown rice


Bitter melon






Wheat flour





Chinese Cabbage



Barley sprouts (green)

Egg plant

Gingko, persimmon (shi zi)

White fish

Seed of Job's tear (Coix)


Chrysanthemum, green tea

Sesame oil, Flax seed oil


Winter melon


Sausage (wheat)

Mung Bean


III. Blood Heat

 Etiology and Pathology: DLE, SLE, and other autoimmune-mediated diseases

 Clinical Signs: Depigmentation, crusting, or erythema, Ulceration of the planum nasale or skin, erosions; Tongue: Red or purple, Pulse: Surging and fast

 Food Therapy: Cool/cold diets

 Chinese Herbal Medicine: Blood Heat formula

 Acupuncture Points: GB-20, Er-jian, Wei-jian, Liv-3, GB-34, BL-17, SP-10

 Other Comments: Fast one day a week

IV. Blood Deficiency

 Etiology and Pathology: Geriatric dryness, or chronic skin problems

 Clinical Signs: Chronic itching, in aged animals; dandruff, dry/burned skin/haircoat, alopecia; Tongue: pale and dry; Pulse: deep, thready and weak

 Food Therapy: Neutral or cool diets

 Chinese Herbal Medicine: Yang Xue Xi Feng

 Acupuncture Points: SP-10, BL-17, ST-36/SP-6, An-shen, HT-7, GB-20/BL-10

V. Deficiency of Liver and Kidney Yin

 Etiology and Pathology: Geriatric dryness, or chronic skin problems

 Clinical Signs: Chronic itching, in aged animals; Dandruff, dry skin/haircoat, alopecia, or crusting; hyperactivity or abnormal behavior at night; Tongue: red or deep red, and dry; Pulse: Thready, deep and fast

 Food Therapy: Cool diets

 Chinese Herbal Medicine: Yang Yin Zhi Yang

 Acupuncture Points: Kid-3, BL-23, SP-6/9/10, An-shen, HT-7, GB-20/BL-10


Speaker Information
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Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD, MS
Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine
Reddick, FL , USA

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