A 2010 study showed acupuncture to be an effective treatment for allergen-caused itchiness and skin irritation in people with eczema. The study titled "Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema- a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial," brought good news to eczema sufferers in the acupuncture and Oriental Medicine community.
Study participants included those suffering from eczema, who agreed to be exposed to an allergen in order to elicit an allergic skin reaction. The trial then rated the itch intensity, and examined the size of the wheals (a welt, lesion or swelling) and the skin perfusion rate.
Perfusion refers to the process of blood delivery through the capillaries and into skin cells. Higher rates of perfusion are generally a positive thing. This indicates that an adequate supply of blood swiftly reaches the skin in order to expedite the healing needed at the problem area.
The acupuncture group received therapy involving the use of two points- Sp10 and Li11. Another group used placebo acupuncture, and a third group did not receive any therapy at all. Placebo acupuncture refers to needle insertion at points with no therapeutic value. The group using real acupuncture yielded promising results.
Not only did the real acupuncture participants feel significantly less intense itchiness, but the size of their wheals measured smaller when compared with the other groups. Additionally, the higher rate of skin perfusion observed in the real acupuncture participants also demonstrated the viability of acupuncture as a therapy for atopic eczema.
Source: Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A, Fuqin J, Athanasiadis GI, Irnich D, Raap U, Schober W, Behrendt H, Ring J, Darsow U. "Influence of acupuncture on type I hypersensitivity itch and the wheal and flare response in adults with atopic eczema - a blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled, crossover trial.", Allergy. 2010 Jul;65(7):903-10. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2009.02284.x. Epub 2009 Dec 11.
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.