Acupuncture in Dermatology: An Update to a Systematic Review

Jonwei Hwang, Peter A. Lio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives: Acupuncture is an important Traditional Chinese Medicine modality based on the fundamental theory that disease is caused by disruptions in the body's qi. Understanding the use of acupuncture in dermatology is important due to the rising prevalence of complementary and alternative medicine use. A systematic review published in 2015 found that acupuncture improves outcomes in several dermatological diseases. We performed a systematic review of studies that have been done since then to present updated evidence. Methods: A systematic search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Central Register was performed. Studies were limited to clinical trials, controlled studies, case reports, comparative studies, and systematic reviews published in the English language. Studies involving moxibustion, electroacupuncture, or blood-letting were excluded. Results: Results showed that acupuncture improves clinical outcomes in uremic pruritus, atopic dermatitis, urticaria, and itch. Acupuncture does not significantly reduce postoperative itch in patients undergoing cesarean section under spinal anesthesia. Conclusions: While there are some promising studies that support the use of acupuncture for skin diseases, additional large-scale, randomized, sham-controlled trials need to be performed to present consistent high-level evidence of acupuncture's role in dermatology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-23
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • acupressure
  • acupuncture
  • dermatology
  • skin disease
  • traditional
  • treatment


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