Acupuncture and Patients with Atopic Eczema!!!

Eczema is a chronic skin condition, characterized by dry, red, flaky patches of skin. Eczema appears most commonly on the face, neck, elbows, wrists, knees, behind the ears, and on the scalp. During acute episodes, the patches become oozing, inflamed, and itchy. Atopic eczema is usually triggered by inhaled or ingested allergens, such as certain foods, pollen, dust, or animal dander. Some literature discusses a third classification, “dysregulatory microbial eczemas.” This category refers to eczema caused by the introduction of microflora into the horny layer of the skin, and a breakdown in the epidermis, resulting in inflammation.

Acupuncture is among the oldest healing practices in the world. Practiced in China and other Asian countries for thousands of years, acupuncture is one of the key components of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is based on the concept that disease results from disruption in the flow of qi and imbalances in the forces of yin and yang. Acupuncture is the technique of inserting thin needles into the skin at specific points on the body that connect to these meridians. There are 14 meridians that connect the body in a weblike interconnecting matrix of at least 2,000 acupunture points. Yin represents the cold, slow, or passive principle, while yang represents the hot, excited, or active principle. Treatment may take place over a period of several weeks or more. This treatment is used to control symptoms such as pain, fatigue, anxiety, stress, nausea, vomiting melancholy and immune system deficiencies. There have been many studies on acupuncture’s potential health benefits for a wide range of health conditions.

A recent double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study investigated the effect of acupuncture in patients with atopic eczema. The trial included 30 patients with atopic eczema who were exposed to an allergen stimulus and then were either observed (meaning no acupuncture) or treated using one of two acupuncture approaches. The two acupuncture treatments were acupuncture at points Quchi and Xuehai (verum acupuncture) or placebo point acupuncture. Results were measured using a visual analogue scale, wheal and flare size and skin perfusion and then validated using the Eppendorf Itch Questionnaire. The results revealed that patients who received verum acupuncture experienced a significantly reduced itching response as compared with the placebo acupuncture and observation groups. It was also found that the mean Eppendorf Itch Questionnaire ratings were significantly lower in the verum acupuncture group. These results suggest that acupuncture at the correct points can significantly reduce hypersensitivity itch in patients with atopic eczema.1

1 Pfab F, Huss-Marp J, Gatti A, et al. 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. Jul2010;65(7):903-910.