Acupuncture is believed to be beneficial for eczema and recent research has a very positive view for the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of chronic inflammatory skin conditions. Acupuncture may help to relieve symptoms in people with eczema. For example the itching can be reduced by up to 50% after one treatment and the skin will be back to normal gradually after a course of treatment. This is because acupuncture reduces inflammation, regulates mediators of the allergic reaction to extrinsic allergens, regulates immune cell types and functions and increases local blood flow reducing swelling
There was a blinded, randomised controlled trial. 30 patients with ectopic eczema participated in the study and allocated into three groups: acupuncture group, sham acupuncture and no acupuncture group. The allergy stimulus was applied to these patients 30 min before and after the interventions: acupuncture or no acupuncture. Two acupuncture points were selected: Quqi (LI11) and xuehai (SP10). The result showed that itch intensity and skin rash were significantly lower in acupuncture group compared with sham acupuncture or no acupuncture group. A further study was done by the same group. They compared the effect of acupuncture with that of cetirizine, an antihistamine drug commonly used for treating skin allergic reaction. This trial involved 20 patients with ectopic dermatitis. They were tested in several interventions: acupuncture, placebo acupuncture, cetirizine, certirizine placebo and no interetion. The result showed that both acupuncture and cetirizine treatments have significantly lower mean itch intensity and skin rash compared with both placebo and control groups. These studies suggested that acupuncture is effective in treating allergic skin reactions and it is as effective as some antihistamine drugs. They investigated the mechanism of acupuncture treatment of atopic eczema. 10 patients were in two groups acupuncture group and no treatment group. Allergen-induced basiphil cell (related to allergy) activation was measured after allergy stimulation. Itch intensity was significantly lower in acupuncture group on day 15 (after five treatments) and day 33 of the treatments (after 10 treatments). Less basiphil cells after stimulation were found in patients in the acupuncture group after the acupuncture treatments.
Allergic contact dermatitis (ACD) is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder. The incidence of ACD has increased worldwide. It has been suggested that ACD is related to activation of inflammatory cells linked to various allergic immune responses. ACD has been treated with steroid therapy and immunosuppressive agents. However these medications may cause many adverse effects. The use of alternative medicine such as acupuncture and herbs is increasing. The effect of acupuncture has been proven in the clinical study; however the mechanism is still unclear. Park JY et al studied the mechanism of acupuncture on ACD. They found that acupuncture on LI11 point which is commonly used in the treatment of ACD significantly inhibited cutaneous hyperplasia, serum IgE levels and expression of proinflammatory cytokines and proteins which contributes to immune response. From this study, it can be seen that acupuncture regulates immune activities in the treatment of ACD.
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Pfab F et al J Alterm Complement Med (2011) 17:309-14