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healthbriefs


Relieve Itch with Acupuncture E


czema is a very common skin


condition that affects a substantial portion of the population. The main symptom that brings people to seek help with managing their eczema is pruri- tus, or itching. Con- trolling the itch sensa- tion associated with eczema is one of the most important treat- ment strategies for both Western and Eastern medicine. Continuous


itching of skin can lead to lichenifica- tion, or thickening of the skin, and can make the eczema more chronic and difficult to treat. Western medicine makes use of immunosuppressive steroids to reduce inflammation which is contributing to the itch, redness and swelling associ- ated with an eczematous rash. Hydro- cortisone cream is a typical topical approach to calming inflammation and itch. The use of topical steroids however, is contraindicated for long- term use because of their damaging effects to the skin barrier function of the stratum corneum. Furthermore, the use of steroid creams are used with caution around the face, where the skin is already thinner in nature. Acupuncture has been proven to help with reducing itch associ- ated with eczema and offers a viable alternative to the use of immunosup- pressive drugs. In a study published in the European Journal of Allergy and Immunology, acupuncture was found to be effective in the reduction of Type I hypersensitivity reactions associated with atopic eczema. In this study, people with atopic eczema were separated into three groups: a true acupuncture group receiving real acupuncture points; a placebo group that received acu-


puncture at insignificant points; and a group that received no acupuncture treatment. To initiate an itch reaction, each person was pricked with a piece of grass pollen. Acupuncture in both the true and placebo groups was administered after the itch stimulus was ap- plied. The study revealed that both the intensity and time of itch were reduced in the group re- ceiving true acupuncture treatments.


Source: Joseph Tonzola ,LAc, Dipl. OM. 201-589-1232. 665 Newark Ave., Ste 406, Jersey City. See ad, page 35, and Resource Guide page 49.


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