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Effectiveness of acupressure on pruritus and lichenification associated with atopic dermatitis: a pilot trial
  1. Kachiu Cecilia Lee1,
  2. Ashley Keyes1,
  3. Jennifer R Hensley1,
  4. Jennifer R Gordon1,
  5. Mary J Kwasny2,
  6. Dennis P West1,
  7. Peter A Lio1
  1. 1Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  2. 2Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Peter Lio, Department of Dermatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, 1455 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60622, USA; p-lio{at}


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.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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