Acupuncture for Eczema 1 21028

A young woman living in Guangzhou (a city in southern China) came to visit our clinic because she had suffered from recurrent papules scattered all over the body for more than 2 years. Her symptoms started with scattered and punctate papules and mild itchiness, but she paid no attention and the papules grew in patches with worse itchiness. Then she was diagnosed with eczema after visiting a dispensary specialized in skin diseases. She took some routine western medicine both orally and externally, together with cupping and bloodletting therapy. However the symptoms remained the same after treatments, then she turned to TCM herbal medicine and used some herbs featuring in clearing heat, detoxifacating, expelling wind and arresting itchinness. Her symptoms then were greatly relieved and she kept taking herbal medicines for over one year. Last November she suffered eczema again because of improper diet and herbal medicines didn’t work greatly this time.

On observation, there were copious papules in patches on patient’s lower back and abdomen. The papules, raised above the skin, were dark in color, with scaling and no blisters. Also there were a few scattered papules on her extremities and neck. She complained that the itchiness worsened at night so that she could not sleep well. Other symptoms and signs included: normal appetite, normal and regular voiding and defecation, regular menstrual cycle, menstrual blood with clots, lower back soreness before menstruation, fear of cold, cold hands in winter, dark complexion with a few acnes, a pale and slightly swollen tongue with little coating and cracks in the middle, and a deep and fine pulse.

Pattern identification

The patient is a young woman with weak constitution, fear of cold, a pale swollen tongue with little coating and cracks in the middle, and a deep and fine pulse. The pattern is identified as deficiency of both yin and yang and it specifically manifests as deficiency of blood. The treatment principle is to regulate yin and yang and the methods involved are to warm yang and nourish yin, nourish blood and expel wind. It is said by ancient physicians that nourishing blood is prior to treating wind pathogen; once the blood is promoted , wind pathogen will disappear.

Mainly, points of hand and foot yangming meridians were selected to perform acupuncture combined with cupping and bloodletting on the back and abdomen. Herbal medicine was added as follows: Four Substances Decoction (si wu tang) combining some herbs featuring in expelling wind and arrest itchiness. The symptoms on the abdomen was greatly relieved after 3 treatments but recurred because the treatment was stopped for a week. When the patient came for the 8th treatment, she reported that the symptoms were relieved but itchiness was still there at night. Taking all these into full consideration, the clinician used fire needles which were directly applied on the itching areas. The patient felt great relief right after receiving fire needle therapy. When she came for the 9th treatment, she reported that the areas treated with fire needle stopped itching and she slept better. Since then, she had received fire needle treatment for a dozen times and the symptoms relieved significantly, almost with no itching at night. Later, she stopped herbal medicine and needling for about 20 days and the symptoms recurred, but only with one or two papules. So far she has received 26 treatments and the symptoms are under control. She is recommended to receive more treatments to achieve better result; so now she receives treatment twice a week and she’s doing fine.


Routine use of acupuncture, cupping and herbal medicine works well on eczema, but for chronic and/or intractable eczema, they may not work. However fire needle therapy exerts marvelous effects, which is beyond my expectation. Thinking twice about it, I believe that fire needle therapy involves using warmth and heat. Though, in this case, the patient didn’t manifest clearly with symptoms related to dampness, she reported that her symptoms relieved a little when she was not in Guangzhou and worsened when she was back to Guangzhou. It had something to do with the geographical environment. Pathogens of dampness and heat prevail in Guangzhou, so the routine treatment was clearing heat, detoxification and draining dampness. In this case the patient suffered from dampness only, without heat, though there were no clear evidence from the signs of her tongue and pulse and other symptoms, it was proved by fire needle therapy. Zhang Zhongjing, a well-known ancient physician in China, once said “Dampness shall be dissolved by warm medicine”. Here fire needle therapy served as a sort of warm medicine; as a result, it achieved great effects.

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Acupuncture for Intractable Eczema

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