Is Acupuncture an Effective Treatment for Eczema?

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Typical treatment options for eczema usually include moisturizers, topical steroids, and prescription medications. However, some research suggests that acupuncture, a form of traditional Chinese medicine, may also help those affected by eczema.

This article discusses how eczema can benefit from acupuncture treatment.

Woman getting acupuncture

Science Photo Library / ADAM GAULT / Getty Images

What Is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that involves puncturing specific areas on the body, known as acupuncture points, with hair-thin metallic needles.

It is thought that by stimulating specific points, the body’s central nervous system activates in a way that releases particular chemicals designed to enable healing throughout the body.

Various ailments have been treated using acupuncture, including:

Acupuncture and Meridians

Meridians are pathways within the body that help energy flow freely. Acupuncture needles are placed into the body at various points on these pathways to release blockages that could contribute to illness or disease. The needles must be placed at specific points to match the meridians effectively.

How Can Acupuncture Treat Eczema?

Researchers have investigated whether or not acupuncture can be used to treat eczema. Studies have found that it could be a viable option depending on the severity of the condition and the intensity of the itch sensation.

To perform acupuncture for eczema, the needles are placed at various points in the body associated with relieving the condition. Those points include:

  • LI4: This point is located at the base of the thumb and index finger. It has been shown to help reduce inflammation and irritation.
  • LI11: This point is located within the elbow and may reduce itchiness and dryness in the skin.
  • LV3: Located on the top of the foot, this point may reduce stress on the nervous system.
  • SP6: The SP6 can be found on the lower calf above the ankle and could reduce inflammation, redness, and skin irritation.
  • SP10: Located adjacent to the knee, this point is thought to reduce itchiness and inflammation.
  • ST36: The ST36 is located below the knee on the back of the leg and can potentially improve overall well-being.

What to Expect

When getting acupuncture for eczema, you should expect to explain your condition and health history to the acupuncturist. Your pulse will be recorded from both wrists so the acupuncturist can assess how well your energy flows within the body. They will place the needles in spots they think will be the most effective. Acupuncture should not hurt; the only sensation you are likely to feel is a mild pressure or ache in the needle's insertion area.

Is Acupuncture Safe?

There is very low risk in getting acupuncture, and the practice is deemed safe for most people. However, while skin conditions such as eczema have been treated using acupuncture, you should always speak to your healthcare provider first before trying a new treatment.

Benefits of Acupuncture

When it comes to eczema, there are various benefits of acupuncture. These benefits include:

  • Relieving dryness and itchiness
  • Less intense itchiness
  • Improved quality of life
  • Reducing the area affected

Eczema flare-ups are also closely linked to high levels of stress and anxiety. Since acupuncture has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, that reduction can also aid in relieving the symptoms of eczema.

The skin barrier, which is the outer part of the skin designed to protect the body, can also benefit from acupuncture because the practice helps repair skin barrier damage.

Since the skin barrier in people with eczema is weaker than those without the condition, this benefit can also improve symptoms.

Eczema, Immune System, and Acupuncture

People with eczema often have an overactive immune system contributing to their disorder. According to research, acupuncture for eczema can also aid in regulating the immune system.

Risks of Acupuncture

While acupuncture is generally considered safe, there are some risks involved that people should be aware of. These risks include:

  • Increased itchiness
  • Hemorrhages (excessive bleeding) in the skin
  • A rash, known as erythema, that occurs when small blood vessels are injured
  • Swelling where the needles are inserted
  • Red spots on the skin
  • Fainting (in rare cases)

Who Should Avoid Acupuncture

Not all people can get acupuncture. People who should avoid it include those who:

  • Are pregnant
  • Have a pacemaker
  • Have breast implants
  • Have an increased risk for infection
  • Have a bleeding disorder

Acupuncture Effectiveness

Most studies on acupuncture for eczema show positive results that prove the ancient practice can aid in relieving disease symptoms.

That said, there is the possibility that acupuncture can worsen eczema symptoms. Because of this, people should always talk to their healthcare provider before trying it to see if it's a worthwhile option.


Eczema is a chronic skin disorder that causes intense itching, dry skin, and rashes. In recent years, researchers have looked at acupuncture as a possible treatment option for those with eczema and found that it can lead to a reduction in symptoms.

While acupuncture is a safe treatment option, it isn’t for everyone. If you want to try acupuncture for your chronic skin condition, be sure to discuss it with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you, particularly if you are pregnant or have a bleeding disorder.

A Word From Verywell 

Eczema can be an intense and uncomfortable skin disorder to cope with. Because of this, you may be willing to try anything to find relief. While acupuncture can be a good treatment option, it’s not the only one available. Before going through the process, ensure that you’re ready for all it entails and be aware of the risks. That way, you can make an informed decision about whether or not you think the treatment is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a permanent cure for eczema?

    There is no cure for eczema. The condition is lifelong and chronic, meaning that once you develop it, you will have it forever. That said, several viable treatment options can help reduce flare-ups and keep eczema at bay.

  • Is acupuncture a safe treatment option for eczema?

    Acupuncture is considered a safe option for people with eczema. However, you must consult your healthcare provider before performing it for your skin condition since some risks are involved.

  • How often do you need acupuncture for it to be effective?

    While there is no set number of sessions you will need for your eczema, the general rule when it comes to acupuncture is one to two sessions per week for up to three or four weeks. Since everyone is different, the duration of your treatment could vary significantly.

  • Does acupuncture hurt?

    Acupuncture is not supposed to hurt. Many people have reported not feeling the thin needles at all when they are inserted. The sensation you will likely feel during acupuncture is either mild pressure or an ache where the needle was inserted.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Zeng Z, Li M, Zeng Y, Zhang J, Zhao Y, Lin Y, Qiu R, Zhang DS, Shang HC. Potential acupoint prescriptions and outcome reporting for acupuncture in atopic eczema: a scoping review. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021;2021:9994824. doi:10.1155/2021/9994824

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By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.