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Houston Acupuncture Services For Dermatological and Skin Health
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Acupuncture for Dermatological and Skin Health

Skin conditions are extremely common, affecting 1 in 3 people at any given time. That’s not a surprise, as the skin is the body’s largest organ. It’s also the most visible, which means skin conditions can cause emotional distress in some patients, in addition to pain and inflammation. 

There are numerous treatment options available for dermatological conditions, and while they can be efficacious for many, side effects are common. Effectiveness varies considerably, too. For many people living with skin problems, incorporating alternative treatments may enhance results. Acupuncture is an emerging option in this regard and can be used for a variety of dermatological issues.

What Skin Conditions Can Acupuncture Help With?

Research into acupuncture and dermatological health is ongoing and more information is needed, but there are a handful of skin conditions that acupuncture already shows promise with, including:


Eczema is characterized by inflammation, itchiness, and dryness. There are a few types of eczema, with atopic dermatitis being the most common. Eczema is typically caused by an environmental trigger like food allergies, and though it isn’t contagious, it can be difficult to live with.

Acupuncture’s effects on atopic dermatitis have undergone some study and there is reason to believe that treatment could help. A 2017 analysis published in Medical Acupuncture compared acupuncture and cetirizine (Zyrtec) and found that acupuncture was superior to medication in preventing itch. In fact, acupuncture was the only treatment arm (cetirizine, placebo cetirizine and placebo acupuncture) that reduced itch severity below the awareness threshold.

Another small study made the same conclusion and also noted reduced basophil activation in patients, which researchers largely believe is connected to eczema flareups.

Herpes zoster (shingles)

Herpes zoster, or shingles, is caused by the same virus responsible for chicken pox and can produce debilitating levels of pain. For most people, shingles eventually resolves, but 20 percent of shingles patients go on to develop post-herpetic neuralgia. In people with post-herpetic neuralgia, the pain and itching associated with shingles doesn’t completely go away. Pain may be described as burning or stabbing, and while some patients recover within a year, some experience symptoms for several years, or permanently.

Acupuncture’s positive effects on herpes zoster are similar to those with eczema - reducing pain, itching and inflammation. A 2011 study published in BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine compared the use of acupuncture with an analgesic medication approach. Researchers found that acupuncture was just as effective in reducing pain as a medication regimen that included pregabalin, local anesthetics, buprenorphine, and oral oxycodone.


Psoriasis is also characterized by itchy dryness, but the condition is believed to be the result of immunological dysfunction. Psoriasis is extremely common, with millions of people diagnosed every year, but it’s still distressing for many that suffer from it.

A 2017 analysis published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine looked at 13 studies with more than 1,000 patients. The research team concluded that acupuncture could be an adjunct option for psoriasis patients, but that more rigorous research was needed to confirm the effect.


Acne is characterized by blemishes on the face, trunk and back, and can cause scarring in severe cases. It’s also every teenager’s worst nightmare and can weigh patients down with stress.

Acupuncture is used by practitioners to treat acne rosacea and hormonal acne. In the former case, acupuncture can help drain heat and redness from the face, both signature features of the condition. A 2018 study published in Medicine (Baltimore) found that treatment could reduce the severity of acne rosacea.

Acupuncture may also help with hormonal acne, given its positive impact on hormone levels. Acne-specific research is still needed in this area, but acupuncture’s hormone regulating capabilities and ability to stimulate the endocrine system have been demonstrated.

There is also some evidence that acupuncture can promote better wound healing, potentially by stimulating tissues responsible for releasing beneficial compounds and by modulating inflammation. Another small study also looked into the effects of acupuncture on hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating) and found that treatment could also reduce frequency of excessive sweating better than Estazolam.

How Does Acupuncture Work to Improve Dermatological Health?

Acupuncture’s effects on the body are many and varied. It’s not exactly clear what the exact physiological mechanism is underlying acupuncture’s efficacy, but it’s clear that acupuncture does provide several benefits, including:

  • Beneficially stimulating brain processing pathways – The primary mechanism behind acupuncture appears to be its effect on the nervous system. When acupuncture needles are inserted into the skin, local nerves are innervated and brain processes related to self-healing and regulation are activated. This results in a flood of neurotransmitters, endorphins and a cocktail of other beneficial chemicals that support better tissue health. Together, these biochemicals can reduce the impact of dermatological symptoms without the side effects common to drug therapy.


  • Helping control hormone levels – Acupuncture has long been used to treat a huge variety of hormone-related conditions, including reproductive, thyroid, kidney, and pancreatic conditions. This same process is also helpful with skin health as some skin problems are related to imbalance hormones.


  • Improving circulation to the skin – Acupuncture’s effects on the cardiovascular system have been thoroughly demonstrated, as treatment is shown to improve blood flow throughout the body. This is likely due to the release of nitric oxide, a known vasodilator that can relax blood vessels and improve vascular performance.

    With better circulation, the body can better regulate inflammation and reduce its presence in skin conditions.


  • Decreasing stress – Skin problems are often associated with stress, whether stress drives the condition, or the condition drives the stress. In both cases, acupuncture can help minimize the impact of stress on the body. Acupuncture stimulates the parasympathetic system, which is responsible for putting the body in a relaxed state.

    Further, the treatment process itself can be relaxing, as patients are placed in a dim, quiet room and given an extended rest period. Even though acupuncture treatment only takes a short time, the mental break can be a major stress reliever.

Houston Acupuncture Can Help with Dermatological and Skin Health

Dermatological conditions are unique in the emotional distress they can cause, on top of significant pain and inflammation. While treatments are available, not every patient responds well to medication and its related side effects.

For those patients, acupuncture treatment offers hope. Acupuncture’s excellent safety profile and wide-ranging benefits can help with many dermatological problems, including eczema, psoriasis, acne, and shingles. 

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