Chronic Skin Problems? Try Acupuncture!

by Hon Lee on May 9, 2019

Treatment of Skin Conditions with Acupuncture

The skin reacts to imbalances within the body's internal landscape and to the effects of the environment. Your skin is a reflection of those internal disharmonies and environmental influences. Strong emotions, diet, anatomy, wind, dryness, dampness, and heat can all contribute to the development of a skin disorder.

Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can quickly alleviate acute symptoms and provides significant, lasting relief from chronic skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, eczema, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles and urticaria (hives).

To keep your skin healthy and beautiful on the outside, you must work on the inside of your body as well. Increasing the flow of energy and blood and lymph circulation improves the skin's complexion and appearance. This output triggers collagen production, which increases muscle tone and elasticity, thus helping to firm the skin. Stimulating circulation also nourishes the skin and encourages it to be moister, softer, smoother, and more lustrous.

Oriental medicine treats specific symptoms that are unique to each individual by using acupuncture, herbal medicine, bodywork, energetic exercises, lifestyle and nutrition recommendations to restore imbalances found in the body.

Studies Show Acupuncture Effective for Skin Problems

According to a large-scale analysis carried out by medical researchers, acupuncture is an effective primary treatment for a variety of dermatological conditions. As reported in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2015, evidence compiled from 24 different scientific studies, underwent a thorough investigation.

Researchers evaluated scientific studies that examined the efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment for ectopic dermatitus (eczema), pruritus (intense itching), urticaria (hives), acne, neurodermatitis (chronic, severe itching), chloasma (rashes due to pregnancy), and facial elasticity.

Out of the 24 studies, 17 showed acupuncture significantly reduced flare-ups, improved symptoms, and provided greater clearance of skin lesions and wheals (red, raised, itchy patches of skin). Researchers recommend further studies to fully understand the mechanisms of acupuncture that produce these results.

Source: Ma C1, Sivamani RK1. Acupuncture as a Treatment Modality in Dermatology: A Systematic Review. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Sep;21(9):520-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0274. Epub 2015 Jun 26.

Acupuncture can reduce itching

Pruritis is the nagging, persistent inclination to scratch one's skin. This overwhelming desire to alleviate the itch can occur on its own or as a consequence of skin disease. In an effort to assuage this unpleasant feeling, researchers set out to discover whether acupuncture could provide relief.

A study called "Efficacy of Acupuncture in Itch: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Clinical Randomized Trials," published in the 2015 edition of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, revealed exciting news for patients with itchy skin conditions.

Researchers sifted through 8 major databases and identified randomized control trials (RCTs) that matched acupuncture up against no treatment or placebo treatment. Three out of the more than 2,000 articles of RCTs were pulled and reviewed. To qualify, the trials had to be restricted to skin itch and include analysis methods explaining the degree and location of itchiness, such as the Eppendorf Itch Questionnaire and the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS).

The three-study meta-analysis focused on 35 study subjects and 35 controls--some of which had placebo acupuncture or no treatment. Antihistamine nor placebo acupuncture reduced itch or the brain's response to itch. But those receiving real acupuncture saw a significant reduction in itch and the impulse to scratch.

Researchers also found that combining acupuncture and electroacupuncture stimulation (electrical current flowing between two acupuncture needles) successfully treated itch when high frequencies were applied to affected dermatones, which are specific localities on the skin supplied by only one spinal nerve.

Source: Yu C., et al. (2015). Efficacy of Acupuncture in Itch: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Randomized Controlled Trials. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/208690/

Try Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs for Acne

Since 85 percent of all adolescents suffer from an acne condition, many of us believe it is a problem that only teenagers experience. However, the American Academy of Dermatology reports that 20 percent of adults also have active acne and we see that age plays less of a factor.

Acne often occurs when the hair follicles or pores become clogged from oil, dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria, environmental toxins or physical irritations on the surface of the skin. Hair follicles are connected to sebaceous glands that secrete an oily substance known as sebum. Ordinarily, the secretion of sebum provides a luscious, healthy sheen to hair and skin. But there are times when the substance builds up, causing the pores to become plugged.

For some, acne may just simply be a nuisance from time to time; for others, the problem is chronic. Not only do they suffer from frequent acne breakouts, but also acne scarring. What's more, only as little as 11 percent of the 60 million Americans struggling with acne will seek professional treatment.

If you are showing symptoms of acne, even if it's not chronic and severe, you may want to consider acupuncture. In addition to directly treating your skin condition through a personalized treatment plan, you can receive treatment for any underlying issues. By seeking treatment earlier rather than later, you may even be able to reduce the incidence of permanent scarring.

Generally, acupuncture and Oriental medicine view acne as heat and damp conditions. If the skin presents as red, swollen or painful, this is considered a heat condition. If the acne presents as a tender, pus-filled lump, it may be treated as a damp or damp-heat condition.

A few things you can do to get symptom relief at home include avoiding the temptation to pick at your acne as this can irritate the condition further and increase your chances of scarring. Use of a non-oily cleanser twice a day on the afflicted area and rinsing your skin with lukewarm green tea--brewed in the same way as if you were going to drink it--may help minimize the presence of oil and bacteria found on your skin.

Hon K. Lee is a Licensed Acupuncturist in Herndon, VA., and the founder of Sports Edge Acupuncture Clinic. He is also an author, teacher, martial arts instructor, qigong practitioner and a U.S. Marine combat veteran. Proceeds from the sale of his memoirs go to charities that benefit wounded warriors and their families.

Hon Lee – who has written posts on Acupuncture Herndon, VA.


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