Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) involving the insertion of fine needles into specific points on the skin. The technique may provide healing benefits for a wide range of health conditions, including eczema.
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes dry, itchy, and irritated skin. The most common type of eczema, atopic dermatitis, often occurs with asthma, hay fever, and food allergies.
It also has links to mental health conditions, including stress, anxiety, and depression.
In this article, we will examine whether acupuncture is effective at treating eczema. We will also look at eczema acupuncture pressure points and the associated risks and benefits of acupuncture for eczema.
The exact causes of eczema and its connection to other health conditions are largely unknown. There is no cure for eczema, but treatments can alleviate symptoms, promote skin healing, and prevent flares. Many people use a combination of conventional and complementary therapies to relieve eczema, including acupuncture.
Acupuncture is a TCM
According to TCM, proper qi flow keeps the body healthy and balanced. Blocked, overactive, or deficient qi disrupts the balance of the body, leading to pain and illness. Acupuncture may activate or release blocked qi, which may stimulate the natural healing response in the body.
Acupuncture focuses on treating and balancing the whole body instead of specific organs, symptoms, or conditions. An acupuncturist develops a customized treatment for each person based on their particular symptoms, as eczema has physical, mental, and emotional symptoms that vary between individuals.
Acupuncturists use acupoints related to eczema and individual symptoms to treat eczema.
Common acupuncture points to treat eczema include:
- Large intestine 4 (LI4): LI4 may strengthen immunity, relieve pain, and treat allergies. It may also reduce anxiety and alleviate red, inflamed, and irritated skin.
- Large intestine 11 (LI11): LI11 may clear heat, reduce inflammation, and alleviate dry, itchy, scaly skin. It may also boost immunity.
- Liver 3 (LV3): LV3 may boost immunity and improve circulation. It may calm the nervous system, which may help to reduce insomnia, balance emotions, and alleviate stress and anxiety.
- Spleen 6 (SP6): SP6 may alleviate red, inflamed, and irritated skin. It may reduce insomnia and improve emotional conditions, including anxiety.
- Spleen 10 (SP10): SP10 may reduce pain and alleviate red, itchy, inflamed skin.
- Stomach 36 (ST36): ST36 may reduce pain, alleviate depression, and improve overall well-being.
Acupuncture may offer healing benefits that help to treat various health concerns, including eczema. The technique may stimulate several body systems, including the nervous and immune systems, restoring balance and encouraging healing.
Acupuncture may improve skin health, restore the skin barrier, and alleviate discomfort in people with eczema. The technique could potentially stimulate blood flow and lower inflammation, which promotes healing.
Research from 2021 suggests that acupuncture is a safe and effective adjuvant treatment for eczema. Acupuncture may have the ability to reduce skin itching, allergic reaction, and wheal size in atopic dermatitis.
According to a 2018 review, acupuncture may stimulate blood flow to the acupoints and the body’s corresponding areas, which may help heal skin lesions and repair the skin barrier. The research also suggests that acupuncture may have a positive effect on stress levels and emotional well-being. This indicates that it may be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety disorders.
Acupuncture may also help improve the overall well-being of people with eczema by reducing stress and improving sleep. A small 2018 study found that acupuncture significantly improves symptoms of atopic dermatitis, including itchiness, insomnia, and quality of life. It may also reduce the severity and size of areas of skin affected by eczema.
Acupuncture treatments provided by a skillful, licensed practitioner using sterile, disposable needles are safe for most people. However, there are a few potential risks and side effects.
Common side effects of acupuncture include slight pain during the session and some soreness afterward. Minor bleeding or bruising may also occur. Acupuncture may intensify some symptoms during and after the session.
People who have a pacemaker or bleeding condition should avoid acupuncture.
Acupuncture is safe during pregnancy. However, the acupuncturist should avoid specific points that could cause uterine contractions and cervical changes.
Several complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies may be effective in treating eczema, according to the National Eczema Association. These treatments may help repair the skin barrier and moisturize skin, which can help to alleviate symptoms, reduce inflammation, and prevent flares. CAM therapies may also boost mental health, strengthen immunity, and improve sleep.
Natural eczema treatments include:
- baking soda, colloidal oatmeal, or Epsom salt bath
- evening primrose oil capsules and topical application
- virgin or cold-pressed coconut, jojoba, and sunflower seed oil
- topical B12 cream
- CBD cream
- witch hazel
- honey, aloe vera gel, or tea tree oil
- calendula cream
- apple cider vinegar bath, wet wrap, or topical application
- cupping therapy
- gua sha
- prebiotics and probiotics
- supplements such as fish oil, selenium, and melatonin
- Ayurvedic herbs, oils, and dietary changes
- an anti-inflammatory diet
Relaxation techniques may help to reduce stress and improve how a person reacts to stressful situations. Relaxation techniques are beneficial in treating eczema, as stress contributes to inflammation and triggers flares.
Relaxation methods include:
- yoga nidra
- breathing exercises
- music, art, or journal therapy
- tai chi
- qi gong
- guided imagery
- spending time in nature
- spending time with loved ones
- moderate intensity exercise
Acupuncture is a complementary therapy that may balance the energy flow in the body to promote healing, improve health, and boost overall well-being.
The technique may offer many benefits that help treat eczema and related conditions, such as stress, depression, and food allergies. It may also help to lower inflammation, improve sleep, and boost immunity.
Acupuncture treatments provided by an experienced, licensed acupuncturist are safe for most people. Individuals should talk to a doctor before adding acupuncture to their treatment plan.