Skin is amazing, but what can I say? It’s not perfect…
As you’re no doubt aware, the skin is the largest organ in the human body, and also the most visible for that matter. It does an amazing job of keeping our insides in and everything else out, while regulating temperature, growing hair, generating vitamin D, repelling infection, and sending massive amounts of sensory input to our brains. And it does all of these amazing things while continuously being worn away and replaced. In fact, your skin completely replaces itself every 28 days.
So what’s not to love?
Winter usually means cold weather and dry indoor conditions due to heating processes. Dry, chapped skin can be the result, and it, in turn, can make graphing more difficult. Here are a couple of conditions to watch for this Winter. (And for those of you in the Southern hemisphere, save these tips for later. Winter will eventually come.)
- Dry Skin: In general, dry skin will tend to read lower on the graph, due to decreased conductivity between the epidermis and the dermal layers. Of course, the moistened probe tip helps somewhat to normalize moisture during the reading, but when the outer layers are very dry, the moistened tip will not entirely overcome the conductivity problems. Dry skin reads lower, and there’s little that can be done to change this. Therefore, if your patient is showing a rather low average, you need not worry that there isn’t enough qi. Rather, it just may be seasonably dry skin.
- Chapped Skin: When the skin becomes extremely dry, it tends to become chapped. Redness, inflammation, cracking and pain may result. From a graphing standpoint, chapped skin will tend to read very high–often quickly climbing all the way to 200. If the skin is chapped, you can assume the graph will not be valid.
- In Between. This is the skin that will drive you crazy. It’s clearly dry, but not reading particularly low. Except in spots. While other spots are not quite inflamed, but are definitely chapped, and even cracked. They’ll read high.
Here’s a graph of some in-between skin:
As you can see, it makes for a pretty bad graph. Ranging from 13 clear up to 176, and nearly everything split, this is the kind of graph that might lead you to conclude the patient is in pretty bad shape.
But here’s the same patient 13 hours later with NO TREATMENT:
Look better? Note that the pattern is basically unchanged. However, everything is more stable and the differences are less pronounced.
Here are both graphs for comparison:
So what made the difference? Well the first exam was performed at the end of the day, after the patient had spent a day working, cleaning, washing hands, washing dishes, etc. The skin was very dry and depleted of natural oils and moisture. Now, I’m not just referring to the daily hand washing and chores we all do. This was rather more extreme, with lots of cleaning and exposure to cleaning products.
The second exam was performed the next morning, before the patient had started working, and after the skin had rested and replenished itself somewhat.
Of course, on some patients, and in some parts of the world, skin dryness will not be an issue. But for most of the rest of us, at least from time to time, we’ll need to make sure the imbalances we’re seeing are the result of actual meridian qi, and not just winter skin.