Acupuncture in dermatology: an historical perspective

Int J Dermatol. 2009 Jun;48(6):648-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2009.03899.x.


Classical acupuncture focuses primarily on treating the person, and secondarily treating the illness. The "symptoms" are regarded as "branch" expressions of a "root" (constitutional) imbalance. Different root imbalances can produce the same symptoms. Five patients with eczema, for example, may reveal five distinct root imbalances and would all be treated very differently. Because acupuncture treats the whole person, it has something to offer almost every condition. In many cases, acupuncture aims to bring about a complete cure; in others, it aims to manage the problem. Acupuncture remains a substantial part of the traditional Chinese medicine, which is used to treat many conditions including acne, alopecia, dermatitis, pruritus, psoriasis, rosacea, systemic lupus erythematosus, urticaria, herpes zoster, chicken pox, impetigo, leprosy, vitiligo, and tinea. This review introduces the historical context of acupuncture within Chinese medicine and how it relates to skin disease. Specifically, a key question is, what can we learn from the ancients with regard to their use of acupuncture as part of a holistic system of medicine, and how does this relate to the practice of modern dermatology?

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture / history*
  • Chin
  • Dermatology / history*
  • History, 21st Century
  • History, Ancient
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional / history*
  • Skin Diseases / history*
  • Skin Diseases / therapy
  • Western World