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September 2022

Acupunct Electrother Res. 1988 ; 13(1): 31-9.

Acupuncture for poison ivy contact dermatitis. A clinical case report.

Liao SJ.

New York University Dental College, New York, New York.

Poison ivy contact dermatitis is fairly common in the suburbia of this country among amateur gardeners and children. It commonly inflicts its poison on the exposed parts of the limbs. The vesicular or bullous skin lesions are quite disturbingly itchy. Scratching the itchy lesions often spreads the condition by transplanting the remanent resinous toxin to other parts of the body. Though they are usually self-limiting, the intense itch is the main motivation for a patient to seek medical care. The conventional treatment is basically ineffective. During the summer of 1987 we treated four such cases of dermatitis with acupuncture upon their request to mollify their unbearable itch. They originally consulted with us for other problems. There were three males and one female. Their ages were between 29 and 63. Three cases were relatively mild and the fourth one was fairly severe. In the milder cases, their itch subsided in a few hours and skin lesions were healed in about two days after one treatment. In the severe case the itch subsided in about two days and most of the skin lesions dried up in four days after the first treatment and were healed almost completely after three sessions of acupuncture treatment. The plausible anti-inflammatory mechanism of acupuncture with the involvement of ACTH and/or cortisol was discussed.

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