Observation of the Complexion

The complexion can provide important information about the patient’s condition. The dominant color, which relates to basic pigmentation from race, climate, or season, has no diagnostic significance.

(1) A white (pale) complexion is linked to Metal and may indicate excess or deficiency Cold and/or Deficiency of Qi and/or Blood.
(2) A red complexion is linked to Fire and usually indicates excess or deficiency Heat, and excess Yang.
(3) A green or blue–green hue is linked to Wood and may be an indication of Stasis or Wind.
(4) A yellow complexion is associated with Earth and may be an indication of Dampness.
(5) A black (dark) complexion is linked to Water and may be an indication of extreme Cold.

In some instances, these colors can give further information about the condition of the Zang–Fu that is associated with the Five Elements principle.

When one of the colors is detected, the quality in terms of intensity and luster can indicate a favorable or unfavorable prognosis of the disease. A healthy complexion, taking the dominant color into consideration, should show a pale-red or pale-pink tinge.

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