Acupuncture and herbs for eczema

Eczema is an inflammatory disease of the skin which is often long-term and chronic and tends to also present with acute episodes of worsening. Most patients come to see the London Acupuncture Clinic having suffered from eczema for many years, though we also see infants and young children with a shorter course of the disease who suffer with much itching and sleep disturbance. It is estimated that 20 per cent of children and adults in industrialised nations suffer from eczema. In our clinic we see patient of all ages, with eczema varying from mild to severe. Some come to avoid the condition worsening while others come due to their skin not responding as well as it did in the past to the conventional medical approaches of steroid creams or emollient creams they have previously relied on.


Chinese medicine can be extremely effective at clearing eczema flares, as well as vastly improving the condition over the long-term. The mainstay of Chinese dermatology tends to be Chinese herbal medicine, but we also use acupuncture as an adjunct treatment where necessary. To choose the correct herbal prescription your practitioner will observe the skin closely and choose different remedies according to the location and appearance of the lesions, the severity of the itching, the thickening or thinning of skin in the areas typically affected, whether the skin is dry or blistered or weeping, etc.


Case study:

C was 21 years old and had suffered atopic eczema and hay fever as a young child. She had subsequently ‘grown out of it’ and had been free of eczema for 10 years. The eczema then returned one winter. Initially  her skin was just dry, but then it began to itch. Her arms and legs were affected to the point that when Spring came, she did not want to wear any short-sleeved clothing as this would expose her arms, which had a darkening pigmentation to the skin where her eczema had been during the winter months. In subsequent winters the eczema returned, each year with worsening severity.  She began using a topical steroid cream for a one or two weeks each time, but when she discontinued the cream the eczema would return with even more severity than before. Her skin on her legs was so uncomfortable and itchy that any fabric that touched it would make it flare and itch. Itching became a permanent feature each day and each night, and she usually awoke with blood on the bedsheets from scratching during the night. She came for a session of acupuncture and her itching was much reduced for a week after the first session and for two weeks after her second session. She no longer needed the steroid cream. She also applied a herbal cream to the affected areas of skin twice per day. Four weeks after her first session her skin flare was over and the itching had stopped. Six months later she returned for two more acupuncture sessions and was again symptom free. She continued to apply the cream until the skin discolourations were gone and there was no trace of the eczema having been there.