Relief from Itchy Skin and Hives through Acupuncture

By Dr. Li Zheng, Lic. Acupuncturist & Herbalist, Ph.D. in Medical Science

It has been found that Acupuncture for itchy skin is an effective therapy to bring relief, especially when compared to several common treatments such as lotions and medications.

Itchy skin is an unpleasant, irritating sensation which makes you want to scratch your skin. Commonly referred to as pruritus, itchy skin can be triggered or irritated by dry skin, hot shower, heating during the winter, air conditioning during the summer, and low humidity. Dry skin is found usually in older adults since their gland secretion is not as well as before. Dependent on the cause of your itchy skin, it may look bumpy, rough, or red. Acupuncture and herbs for itchy skin has proved to prevent pruritic sensations.

Causes of itchy skin and hives

Causes of itchy skin include skin issues such as dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, herpes, scabies, burns, scars, insect bites, and hives. It is also caused by internal illnesses such as kidney failure, liver disease, thyroid problems, iron deficiency, anemia, and certain cancers, including lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Further, chemicals, soaps, wool, and other substances could irritate the skin and trigger itching sensation and hives. At times, substances such as cosmetics, parasites, or poison ivy produce an allergic response. Reactions to some drugs, such as sedative pain killers may also cause itchy skin and hives. Throughout pregnancy, some women encounter this problem.

Why do people develop hives and itchy skin?

Dryness and high level of histamine make people tend to feel itchy when the skin is exposed to cold, heat or when the blood vessels are dilated. When we treat patients with a high level of histamine, pressure, cold and heat can make their skin turns red or develop hives instantly. A high level of histamine makes the blood vessels leak the fluids into the tissue, which can stimulate the small sensory nerve fibers. When people drink too much coffee or other energy drinks, they stimulate their nervous system, the hyperactive sympathetic nerves can make the body feel dry and itchy.

Furthermore, when your nervous system is hyperactive, your immune system tends to cause chronic inflammation in your blood vessels. Inflamed blood vessels tend to leak fluids into tissues stimulating the nerves causing rashes and itchy or even painful sensation. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it is very critical to balance your nervous system and immune system, so your body will not develop systematic inflammation in your blood vessels and nerves, our network to maintain the healthy body. Older people tend to develop chronic inflammation that is why they tend to have a severe cytokine storm when they come down with the Covid-19.

Acupuncture: a Traditional Chinese therapy

Acupuncture requires placing of fine, sterile needles into precise points that are situated along meridians of energy (qi) in the body. There are about 400 of these points on the body. It is believed that stimulating these points frees up energy, or qi, inside the body. It is known that acupuncture operates through the stimulation of raphe nuclei, which raises serotonin, GABA, and endorphin levels. This, in turn, sets off a string of reactions, which balance your nervous and immune system, so you will not be hypersensitive to the environmental changes and feel itchy all the time. Acupuncture can also bring energy to your adrenal and thyroid gland, so your body produces more cortisol to fight inflammation. This endogenous cortisol will also help reduce the rash and itchy sensation.

Benefits of Acupuncture for itchy skin

Acupuncture has been employed to cure a vast number of skin ailments. It includes but is not limited to psoriasis, urticaria or hives, acne, atopic dermatitis, and postherpetic neuralgia. Acupuncture for itchy skin offers non-pharmacological relive for pain or itching. It is also less intrusive than surgery or other conventional therapies. It is a holistic approach, which is extensively used along with Chinese herbs, dietary, and other routine changes, along with cupping and moxibustion. It is an increasingly accessible therapy.

Research findings supporting Acupuncture

A review study, which included three articles of randomized controlled trials from a total of 2530 patients, published in 2015 in ‘Evid Based Complement Alternat Med’, concluded that acupuncture was effective to alleviated itch compared with placebo acupuncture and no treatment group.