Acupuncture for Eczema: Can Traditional Practice Relieve Skin Troubles?

Eczema, a common chronic skin condition, affects millions of individuals worldwide, causing discomfort, itchiness, and inflammation. While there are several treatment options available, some individuals seek alternative remedies to complement or replace conventional approaches. One such alternative therapy gaining attention is acupuncture.

Understanding Eczema

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is characterized by red, inflamed, and itchy skin patches. It can manifest in various forms and severity levels, ranging from mild irritation to severe, chronic conditions. The causes of eczema are multifactorial, including genetic predisposition, immune system dysregulation, environmental triggers, and skin barrier dysfunction.

Conventional Treatment Approaches

Traditional medical treatments for eczema primarily focus on symptom management and reducing inflammation. Common approaches include topical creams, corticosteroids, antihistamines, and moisturizers. While these methods can provide relief for many patients, some individuals may experience side effects or inadequate results, leading them to explore alternative therapies like acupuncture.

Acupuncture for Eczema: Scientific Evidence

Although acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat a wide range of conditions, including skin disorders, the scientific research on its efficacy for eczema is still limited. However, some studies suggest that acupuncture may offer benefits for managing eczema symptoms. For example, A recent study conducted on thirty participants with eczema demonstrated the positive impact of acupuncture treatment. These participants underwent four weeks of acupuncture sessions, resulting in noticeable improvements in all symptoms of eczema within the same four-week period. A 2020 systematic review published in the Journal of Acupunct Med analyzed eight randomized controlled trials involving acupuncture for atopic dermatitis. The review found that acupuncture provided a significant reduction in eczema symptoms compared to control groups; acupuncture was better than conventional medicine at reducing the eczema area, global symptom improvement and severity index.

Mechanisms of Action

The exact mechanisms by which acupuncture may alleviate eczema symptoms are not yet fully understood. However, several theories have been proposed. One hypothesis suggests that acupuncture stimulates the release of endorphins and other neurochemicals, which can modulate the immune response, reduce inflammation, and relieve itching. Additionally, acupuncture may enhance blood circulation, promote the release of natural anti-inflammatory substances, and rebalance the body's energy flow, potentially addressing underlying imbalances contributing to eczema.
Acupuncture may provide relief from symptoms and improve overall well-being for individuals living with eczema.

Kang S et al Complement Ther Med2018 Dec;41:90-98. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2018.08.013. Epub 2018 Sep 10.
Ruimin Jiao et al Acupunct Med. 2020 Feb; 38(1): 3–14.

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