Acupuncture as a Treatment Modality in Dermatology:
A Systematic Review
Chelsea Ma, MD, and Raja K. Sivamani, MD, MS, CAT
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that has been used to treat a broad range of
medical conditions, including dermatologic disorders. This systematic review aims to synthesize the evidence
on the use of acupuncture as a primary treatment modality for dermatologic conditions.
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
Twenty-four studies met inclusion criteria. Among these, 16 were randomized controlled trials, 6 were
prospective observational studies, and 2 were case reports. Acupuncture was used to treat atopic dermatitis,
urticaria, pruritus, acne, chloasma, neurodermatitis, dermatitis herpetiformis, hyperhidrosis, human papillo-
mavirus wart, breast inflammation, and facial elasticity. In 17 of 24 studies, acupuncture showed statistically
significant improvements in outcome measurements compared with placebo acupuncture, alternative treatment
options, and no intervention.
Acupuncture improves outcome measures in the treatment of dermatitis, chloasma, pruritus,
urticaria, hyperhidrosis, and facial elasticity. Future studies should ideally be double-blinded and standardize
the control intervention.