Acupuncture may reduce itching in atopic dermatitis (eczema)

Pruritus (itch) is a major symptom of allergic skin diseases. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce histamine-induced itch in healthy volunteers.

The study authors investigated the effect of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and skin reaction in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.

An allergen stimulus (house dust mite or grass pollen skin prick) was applied to 30 patients with atopic eczema before and after:

- acupuncture at points Quchi and Xuehai, verum acupuncture (VA)
- 'placebo-point' acupuncture (PA)
- no acupuncture (NA)

Itch intensity was recorded on a visual analogue scale and with a questionnaire. After 10 min, wheal and flare size and skin perfusion (via LASER-Doppler) were measured.

Itch intensity was lower in VA compared to NA and PA. In the preventive approach, wheal and flare size were smaller in VA.

The authors concluded that acupuncture reduced type I hypersensitivity itch in patients with atopic eczema.

Atopic Dermatitis Treatment - Illustrated (click here for full size image).


Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema. F. Pfab et al. Allergy, 11 Dec 2009.
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Image source: Needles being inserted into a patient's skin, Wikipedia, public domain.

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