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.