WEDNESDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) – Acupuncture and cetirizine both reduce type I hypersensitivity itch better than placebo or no intervention, according to an article published online Feb. 8 in Allergy.

Florian Pfab, MD, of Technische Universität München in Munich, and colleagues conducted a study involving 20 patients with atopic dermatitis to compare the effectiveness of preventive and abortive verum acupuncture with that of the antihistamine cetirizine, corresponding placebo interventions, and a no-intervention control group. Using a validated model, itch was induced on the forearm and temperature was modulated over 20 minutes. Itch intensity, wheal and flare size, and the D2 attention test served as outcome parameters.

The researchers found that the mean itch intensity was significantly lower after abortive acupuncture than after any of the other interventions. Although superior to placebo interventions, preventive acupuncture and cetirizine administration were not significantly different from each other (P>0.1). Preventive acupuncture resulted in significantly smaller flare size compared with the corresponding placebo (P=0.034). Following cetirizine administration, the D2 attention test score was significantly lower than the scores in all other groups.

“Abortive acupuncture was the only intervention to reduce itch below the clinically relevant scratch urge threshold, while preventive acupuncture was the only therapy to reduce skin reactions (flare size). The results suggest that acupuncture may be a useful complementary therapy to downregulate itch, urticaria, or eczema in atopic patients with [fewer] cognitive side-effects (specifically regarding attention) compared with cetirizine,” the authors write.

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