Eczema is a chronic skin condition that can flare up and subside throughout your life. During flare-ups, your skin may be itchy and dry, and it may bleed or weep fluids. Many treatments are available, including topical corticosteroids, antihistamines and wet bandages, but if traditional treatments don't work, you may want to try alternative treatments like acupuncture. Here are three things you need to know about acupuncture for eczema.
How is acupuncture performed?
Your acupuncturist will have you change into a gown, and then you'll lie down. Thin, single-use, sterile needles will then be inserted into strategic parts of your body. There are more than 2,000 acupuncture points, but for the treatment of eczema, four points around your elbows and knees will be used.
The needles will remain in place for about 10 to 20 minutes. While they're in place, your acupuncturist may twirl or move them. They may also apply heat to the needles. Your acupuncturist may play calming music to help you stay relaxed while this is happening.
After your session, you may feel relaxed and sleepy, so it's a good idea to arrange to have a friend or family member drive you home afterwards.
How does acupuncture treat eczema?
Researchers still aren't sure how acupuncture helps patients with eczema. One theory is that the needles provide a counter-irritant to the skin and distract eczema suffers from their itchy skin. Most acupuncture points are located near neural structures, so the needles may also interfere with the itch signals that contribute to eczema. Acupuncture may also make your body produce endorphins—hormones that regulate pain and mood—which may be why it offers relief from the itching of eczema. More research is required to determine exactly how acupuncture works.
How well does acupuncture work?
Studies have shown that acupuncture works well for some patients. One patient received acupuncture therapy three times a week for twelve weeks and experienced complete relief from her itching symptoms for 24 hours after each session. Another study of 20 eczema patients found that acupuncture significantly reduced itching when it was performed during a flare-up of the disease.
While these studies are small, they provide hope that acupuncture can relieve eczema symptoms. The risks of acupuncture are low as long as you see a well-trained and licensed acupuncturist, so it's worth a try.
If traditional treatments aren't helping your eczema, consider trying an alternative treatment like acupuncture. Check it out.