Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether acupuncture is effective in reducing itch intensity and wheal size in patients with dermatologic conditions.

STUDY DESIGN: Review of all English language primary randomized controlled trials published after 1984

DATA SOURCES: Three randomized controlled trials were found using Pubmed database.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: The three trials measured various outcomes: Visual Analog Scale (VAS); Eppendorf Itch Questionnaire; Cumulative Itch Index; Perimeter of wheal and flare size before, during, & after acupuncture; Psoriasis Area and Severity Index (PASI)

RESULTS: Belgrade et al. found statistically significant improvement in itch intensity and flare size of patients with histamine-induced itch after active acupuncture compared to pseudo acupuncture and no acupuncture. In the study by Pfab et al., the direct and preventive effect of acupuncture on atopic eczema showed significant decrease in itch intensity, wheal, and flare size compared to placebo acupuncture and no acupuncture. Jerner et al. found slightly considerable yet statistically significant improvement in skin symptoms of plaque psoriasis after placebo acupuncture compared to active acupuncture.

CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture, as an adjunct treatment to standard atopic dermatitis care, is an effective inhibitor of histamine-induced and atopic dermatitis itch and wheal/flare size.