Effectiveness of acupressure on pruritus and lichenification associated with atopic dermatitis: a pilot trial

Acupunct Med. 2012 Mar;30(1):8-11. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2011-010088. Epub 2011 Dec 28.


Background: Pruritus is a debilitating aspect of atopic dermatitis (AD). Acupuncture has been reported to diminish pruritus, but self-administered acupressure has not been previously evaluated.

Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness of acupressure on the severity of eczema in a pilot trial.

Methods: Adult patients with AD were randomised to an intervention group (acupressure with standard of care) or a control group (standard of care alone). Subjects in the intervention group performed acupressure using a 1.2 mm acupellet at the LI11 point, applying pressure for 3 min three times per week for 4 weeks. The severity of itching and AD at baseline and at 4 weeks were measured on a visual analogue scale (VAS), the Investigator's Global Assessment (IGA) and the Eczema Area and Severity Index (EASI).

Results: Fifteen subjects were enrolled, 12 of whom completed the study between November 2009 and May 2011. There was no significant change between baseline and follow-up survey scores within the control group. In the investigation group there was a decrease in the VAS score (p=0.05) and EASI lichenification (p=0.03), although without significant change in the overall EASI score. Comparison of the scores between groups showed a greater decrease in VAS in the experimental group than in the control group (p=0.04), and a decrease in the IGA (p=0.03) and EASI lichenification score (p=0.03). The overall EASI scores were unchanged.

Conclusion: Subjects using acupressure at LI11 for 4 weeks had improvement in pruritus and lichenification. Acupressure may prove to be an easily administered alternative treatment, but larger-scale studies are needed to confirm these preliminary findings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure*
  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / therapy*
  • Eczema / complications
  • Eczema / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / etiology
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pressure
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Pruritus / therapy*
  • Self Care
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Standard of Care
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult