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An acupuncture session may bring some itch relief to people with the allergic skin condition known as atopic eczema, a preliminary study suggests.
Eczema is a general term for conditions marked by inflammation and dry, red, itchy patches on the skin. The most common form, atopic eczema, is seen in people with a predisposition to allergies, like hay fever or asthma.
In the new study, German researchers looked at the short-term effects of acupuncture on skin inflammation and itching in 30 people with atopic eczema. They found that the therapy, when done minutes after patients' skin was exposed to an allergen—either pollen or dust mites—appeared to soothe subjective feelings of itchiness.
In addition, when patients were exposed to the allergen for a second time shortly after the acupuncture session, they tended to have a less-severe skin reaction, the researchers report in the journal Allergy.
The findings show that in this "experimental setting," acupuncture seems to ease the itch of atopic eczema, lead researcher Dr. Florian Pfab, of the Technical University of Munich, told Reuters Health in an e-mail. The study does not, however, answer the question of whether acupuncture as practiced in the real world would have similar benefits.