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Relieving Eczema Symptoms: The Role of Acupuncture

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For individuals dealing with eczema, can incorporating acupuncture into a treatment plan help manage and reduce symptoms?

Relieving Eczema Symptoms: The Role of Acupuncture

Acupuncture for Eczema

Eczema is a chronic skin disorder that causes intense itching, dry skin, and rashes. Common treatment options for eczema include:

  • Moisturizers
  • Topical steroids
  • Prescription medications

Some research suggests that acupuncture may also help individuals with eczema. In recent years, researchers have looked at acupuncture as a possible treatment option and found that it can reduce symptoms.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture involves inserting thin metallic needles in specific acupoints in the body. It is believed that by stimulating specific points, the body’s central nervous system activates and releases certain chemicals designed to enable healing. Ailments that are treated using acupuncture include: (Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2024)

  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Nausea
  • Asthma
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

Treatment

Studies have found that acupuncture could be a treatment option depending on the severity of the condition and the intensity of the itching sensations. (Ruimin Jiao et al., 2020) The needles are placed at various points associated with relieving the condition. These points include: (Zhiwen Zeng et al., 2021)

LI4

  • Located at the base of the thumb and index finger.
  • It has been shown to help reduce inflammation and irritation.

LI11

  • This point is located within the elbow to reduce itchiness and dryness.

LV3

  • Located on the top of the foot, this point reduces stress on the nervous system.

SP6

  • The SP6 is on the lower calf above the ankle and can help reduce inflammation, redness, and skin irritation.

SP10

  • This point is located adjacent to the knee and reduces itchiness and inflammation.

ST36

  • This point is located below the knee on the back of the leg and is used to improve overall well-being.

Benefits

There are various benefits of acupuncture, including (Ruimin Jiao et al., 2020)

  • Dryness and itchiness relief.
  • Itchiness intensity reduction.
  • Affected area reduction.
  • Improved quality of life.
  1. Eczema flare-ups are also linked to stress and anxiety. Acupuncture has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, which can also help relieve eczema symptoms (Beate Wild et al., 2020).
  2. Acupuncture helps repair skin barrier damage or the outer part of the skin designed to protect the body. (Rezan Akpinar, Saliha Karatay, 2018)
  3. Individuals with eczema tend to have a weakened skin barrier; this benefit can also improve symptoms. (National Eczema Association. 2023)
  4. Individuals with eczema often have an overactive immune system contributing to the disorder.
  5. According to research, acupuncture can also help in regulating the immune system. (Zhiwen Zeng et al., 2021)

Risks

Acupuncture is generally considered safe, but there are some risks to be aware of. These risks include: (Ruimin Jiao et al., 2020)

  • Swelling where the needles are inserted.
  • Red spots on the skin.
  • Increased itchiness.
  • A rash known as erythema – occurs when small blood vessels are injured.
  • Hemorrhages – excessive bleeding.
  • Fainting

Individuals Who Should Avoid Acupuncture

Not all individuals can be treated with acupuncture. Individuals who should avoid acupuncture treatment include individuals who (National Eczema Association. 2021) (Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2024)

  • Are pregnant
  • Have a bleeding disorder
  • Have an increased risk of infection
  • Have a pacemaker
  • Have breast implants

Effectiveness

Most studies on acupuncture for eczema show positive results that prove it can aid in relieving symptoms. (SeHyun Kang et al., 2018) (Ruimin Jiao et al., 2020) However, individuals should talk to their healthcare provider to see if it’s a safe option.


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References

Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2024). Acupuncture (Health, Issue. www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/acupuncture

Jiao, R., Yang, Z., Wang, Y., Zhou, J., Zeng, Y., & Liu, Z. (2020). The effectiveness and safety of acupuncture for patients with atopic eczema: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acupuncture in medicine : journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society, 38(1), 3–14. doi.org/10.1177/0964528419871058

Zeng, Z., Li, M., Zeng, Y., Zhang, J., Zhao, Y., Lin, Y., Qiu, R., Zhang, D. S., & Shang, H. C. (2021). Potential Acupoint Prescriptions and Outcome Reporting for Acupuncture in Atopic Eczema: A Scoping Review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2021, 9994824. doi.org/10.1155/2021/9994824

Wild, B., Brenner, J., Joos, S., Samstag, Y., Buckert, M., & Valentini, J. (2020). Acupuncture in persons with an increased stress level-Results from a randomized-controlled pilot trial. PloS one, 15(7), e0236004. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0236004

Akpinar R, Karatay S. (2018). Positive Effects of Acupuncture on Atopic Dermatitis. International Journal of Allergy Medications 4:030. doi.org/10.23937/2572-3308.1510030

National Eczema Association. (2023). Skin barrier basics for people with eczema. What is my skin barrier? nationaleczema.org/blog/what-is-my-skin-barrier/

National Eczema Association. (2021). Get the facts: acupuncture. Get the facts: acupuncture. nationaleczema.org/blog/get-the-facts-acupuncture/

Kang, S., Kim, Y. K., Yeom, M., Lee, H., Jang, H., Park, H. J., & Kim, K. (2018). Acupuncture improves symptoms in patients with mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis: A randomized, sham-controlled preliminary trial. Complementary therapies in medicine, 41, 90–98. doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2018.08.013

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