American and German researchers have shown acupuncture to be more effective than the antihistamine cetirizine, in reducing experimentally-induced itching in atopic dermatitis.
In a randomised controlled crossover trial involving twenty patients, true acupuncture given at the same time the allergen was applied to the skin of the forearm, resulted in a lower itch intensity than all other interventions. When acupuncture was given preventatively, it was slightly less effective although as effective as cetirizine. Both were significantly more effective than their placebo counterparts and a no-intervention control. Additionally, the area of skin redness after preventative acupuncture, was significantly smaller than that following placebo acupuncture.
(Acupuncture compared with Oral Antihistamine for Type I Hypersensitivity Itch and Skin Response in Adults with Atopic Dermatitis – A Patient and Examiner-Blinded Randomised Placebo-Controlled Crossover Trial. Allergy – European Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, April 2012.)