Atopic dermatitis--more commonly known as eczema--is inflammation of the skin. It is often characterized by itchiness, red patches, or cracked skin. Common treatments include over-the-counter topical steroid creams and oral antihistamines. If these fail, stronger medications such as oral steroids and immunomodulators may be used. However, Traditional Chinese Medicine has recommended the herbal treatment of Xiao-Feng-San (XFS) for skin issues.
Cheng et al. conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial examining the effectiveness of oral XFS on severe refractory eczema. Forty-seven patients were given XFS for eight weeks, whereas 24 other patients received placebo for 8 weeks. XFS was evaluated at four-week intervals by lesion score, erythema (skin redness or rash) score, surface damage score, pruritis (itchiness) score, and sleep score.
Almost 80% of the patients completed treatment and follow-up. At the end of 8 weeks, the total lesion score decreased by 79.7 units for the XFS groups versus a decrease of 13.5 units in the placebo group. There were statistically significant differences in all of the other scores at the 8 week follow-up as well. These statistically significant differences also remained at the 12 week follow-up (4 weeks after the treatment had ended) in all scores except erythema.
Cheng et al. concluded that XFS can be a possible alternative treatment for eczema, especially since no side effects were reported by patients in this trial. The only complaint about XFS was its unpleasant taste. XFS includes the following herbs: Rehmannia Root, Radix Paeoniae Rubra, Herba Schizonepetae, Radix Saposhnikoviae, Radix Angelicae Sinensis, Sesami Semen, Caulis Clematidis Armandii, Herba Menthae, Rhizoma Anemarrhenae, Fructus Arctii, Radix Glycyrrhize, and Radix Sophorae Flavescentis.
1. Mayo Clinic staff. Atopic dermatitis (eczema). Mayo Clinic. August 22, 2009. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/eczema/DS00986.
2. Cheng HM, Chiang LC, Jan YM, Chen GW, Li TC. The efficacy and safety of a Chinese herbal product (Xiao-Feng-San) for the treatment of refractory atopic dermatitis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Int Arch Allergy Imm. 2011;155.