One of the most common skin conditions suffered by tens of millions of Americans these days is eczema or itch. Obviously itching (pruritus) is the number one symptom of eczema forcing sufferers to seek an answer to this discomfort. Removing or better control of the itching is one of the most important goals of both eastern and western medicine. Persistent non-stop itching can result in the thickening of the skin also known as lichenification which can cause the eczema to turn chronic making the condition harder to treat.
Reducing inflammation through the use of immunosuppressive steroids is the main focus of treatment of western medicine. The inflammation contributes to symptoms such as swelling, redness and itch that often may be experienced in an eczematous rash. One type of immunosuppressive steroid is hydrocortisone cream, a topical drug that helps relieve both itch and inflammation. However, the use of steroids is contraindicated for use in the long term due to their damaging effects to the stratum corneum. Moreover, steroid creams should be used carefully on the face because of what it can do to the natural thinness of the facial skin. One of the most effective alternative ways of treating itch related to eczema in lieu of immunosuppressive medications is acupuncture which has been proven to help treat itch associated with eczema.
The European Journal of Allergy and Immunology published a study that demonstrated acupuncture’s effectiveness in reducing type I hypersensitivity reactions related to atopic eczema. The study involved people suffering from atopic eczema who were separated into 3 groups. One group was given true acupuncture which involved treatment at the right points, another group was treated with placebo which meant they were given acupuncture but at insignificant points, the last group received no acupuncture treatment at all. To generate an itch reaction each subject was exposed to grass pollen. Two groups were administered with acupuncture (one group, true acupuncture and the other, placebo) after the itch stimulus was given. The results of the study showed that both the duration and intensity of the itch were substantially lessened in both groups given acupuncture although the true acupuncture group showed significantly higher results.
Treating pruritus caused by eczema and skin inflammation is one of the most important goals in the successful treatment of eczema. Acupuncture is a clinically proven and viable alternative to immunosuppressive medications in the alleviation of itch related to eczema.
Davis Acupuncture Clinic
2043 Anderson Rd
Davis, CA 95616