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Acupuncture for Eczema
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Acupuncture for Eczema

Acupuncture is a promising alternative treatment for people with eczema, and early research suggests that it can reduce the severity of eczema symptoms and improve quality of life.

As one of the world’s most common and frustrating skin conditions, eczema negatively impacts quality of life for more than 30 million Americans. The most prevalent form of the condition, atopic dermatitis, can cause itching, pain, redness, irritation and skin discharge. It also produces leathery, thick patches of skin that can be a challenge both physically and emotionally for those suffering with the condition.

Acupuncture can help many suffering from eczema by improving circulation and reducing the impact of stress and anxiety.

How Acupuncture Can Help Eczema Symptoms

Acupuncture has been studied in hundreds of medical conditions and has shown promise in many of them. Originally, this research focused on pain-related conditions, such as neck or back pain. However, in more recent years researchers have focused on a potential beneficial link between acupuncture and eczema.

This beneficial link is largely explained through the following effects:

       Improved cardiovascular efficiency and blood flow – Acupuncture’s effects on the cardiovascular system are well-known at this point, as they’ve been demonstrated in hundreds of medical studies. When acupuncture needles are inserted into the skin, it stimulates the release of many endogenous, beneficial substances. Among them are vasodilators – substances that relax blood vessels when they are present. As the blood vessels relax, their hydraulic efficiency improves and blood flow increases. By boosting blood flow to the skin, acupuncture can help nourish damaged patches of skin and promote faster healing.

       Reduced anxiety, depression and stress – Eczema has a number of potential causes and triggers. The goal for many patients is to avoid those triggers as best as possible, and for many, that means minimizing stress. Acupuncture is a known stress-reliever, likely arising from its ability to modulate nervous system activity and reduce pain. Multiple studies show that acupuncture treatments can produce long-term anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.

       Reduced inflammation – In addition to vasodilators, acupuncture treatment also releases several anti-inflammatory compounds into the blood, including endorphins, certain cytokines and adenosine. Acupuncture also improves inflammation through other mechanisms. For example, it can help break down connective tissues, activate anti-inflammatory pathways in fibroblasts and mast cells, and encouraging the release of certain neuropeptides.

Acupuncture’s positive effects on circulation and stress have been noted in many other health conditions, but they aren’t the only benefits associated with the practice. In addition, research shows that acupuncture may help with the following:

       Acupuncture can improve communication between elements of the nervous system, improving body-wide homeostasis

       Acupuncture can help balance out hormones and correct some hormone-caused conditions

       Acupuncture can reduce the impact of medication-related side effects


While it’s unknown if these effects also have eczema-related benefits, they can support better overall health, which may have a positive effect. 

What the Medical Research Says About Acupuncture for Eczema

Research into acupuncture and eczema is just forming, but there are already medical studies demonstrating a potentially beneficial link. Those studies include:

  • A 2018 review published in the International Journal of Allergy Medications. This review referenced more than 30 pieces of acupuncture and eczema research, and found that acupuncture treatment could reduce itch severity, skin lesion size and flare-up frequency. The research team proposed several reasons why this may be the case, including improved circulation. The research team also concluded that acupuncture’s anti-inflammatory effects could also help with eczema.
  • A 2020 review published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. This review looked at 10 years of acupuncture and eczema research (from 2010-2019), and concluded that acupuncture can improve itching, lesion size and frequency. The researchers also pointed to acupuncture’s anti-inflammatory effects as a primary reason for the treatment’s effectiveness.

Chinese Medicine Practitioners Can Support Skin Health with Other Treatments

Acupuncture is a promising adjunctive option for eczema and atopic dermatitis patients, but it’s not the only one that traditional Chinese medicine offers. Experienced practitioners can prescribe herbal formulations that target the skin, providing nourishment and supporting better overall skin health. Many practitioners can also provide guidance on diet and nutrition – the goal being to reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups.

Why is licensing important for acupuncturists? For the same reason that certification is important for physicians. A licensed acupuncturist is educated in the safe, effective delivery of acupuncture and other eastern modalities, including herbal therapy.

A licensed acupuncturist adheres to stringent sanitary standards, such as using single-use needles and preparing the patient’s skin prior to needle application. This minimizes the risk of infection and other adverse effects (bleeding and pain, mostly), which is already low to begin with. In fact, that’s one of acupuncture’s major advantages – the risk of complications is much lower than it is with drug therapy.

Consider Acupuncture for Relief from Eczema

If topicals, moisturizers and oral medications are only providing partial relief, acupuncture may be an option to improve eczema symptoms further. However, it’s important for patients to identify the right practitioner to seek treatment from.

The most important consideration for a practitioner is whether your Houston acupuncturist is certified to practice traditional Chinese medicine and western, allopathic medicine. Some physicians are educated and practiced in both, and if your acupuncturist is also board-certified in western medicine, they will have access to a greater range of treatments for Eczema. Further, a dual-certified physician will have a better idea of what treatments to combine for greater effectiveness and minimal risk.

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