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Dry, Flaky Skin - What is your body really telling you?

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In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dry and flaky skin has root causes that are based on internal imbalances and weaknesses of specific organs, blood, and Qi (energy) flows within the body. Each body's constitution, history of disease, and lifestyle is different. Even though you're suffering dry skin, the cause may be different. 

In general, a combination of internal heat and dampness will cause dry skin almost anywhere including the hands, feet, scalp and face. A combination of dietary & lifestyle changes, along with herbal therapy, can help improve dry skin by strengthening organs and dispelling pathogenic factors. 



In TCM, the spleen and pancreas are directly related to the mouth as the process of chewing food kicks off the process to transform nutrients that are then transported by the spleen. When the energy of the spleen is not normal, abnormalities such as pale and dry lips can occur.

The spleen is responsible for converting nutrients into Qi (vital energy) and blood. It can be weakened by an unbalanced diet, tiredness and excessive worry. When this happens, nutrients are transformed into internal "dampness" instead of Qi and blood. 


  • Get more sleep. Go to bed earlier, darken the room, avoid caffeine. 
  • Try meditation, yoga, hiking - anything that helps calm the mind 
  • Avoid foods that cause "dampness" - these include milk, cheese, white flour, excess sugar and start. Interestingly, this includes too many raw vegetables and cold beverages. Prepare your vegetables steamed or oven roasted. 
  • Herbs such as white peony, atractylodes and others can help. 


The involvement of the feet should always alert the practitioner to a possible digestive connection. In fact, most skin issues have a digestive component even in the absence of digestive symptoms. This is because healthy digestion is at the epicenter of good health. The skin, gut, and brain all come from the same embryonic cells. Dry skin and other disorders including eczema and psoriasis, can act like a canary in a coal mine, letting us know that the digestive system could use some support. 


  • Avoid antibiotics, if possible, which can obliterate healthy gut flora 
  • Supplement with high quality probiotics 
  • Consume plenty of bone broth which can help to heal and strengthen digestive function 
  • Herbs such as milk thistle, cyperus, skullcap, licorice can help. 


Excessively dry hands and dry skin in general can be a sign of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Women tend to have this issue more often after estrogen drops after menopause. In TCM, this equates to a kidney/spleen imbalance.


  • Consider having your thyroid tested and iodine supplementation as prescribed 
  • Add blood building herbs such as rehmannia

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