Urticaria is a form of skin rash that is smooth, red and severely itchy and occasionally may give a burning sensation. They are also known as hives. The rashes are usually transient lasting for few minutes to few days. However some may persist for weeks and months and it is referred to as chronic urticaria. Even after a resolution of the skin rash, there are still changes in skin color or scar formation. Another characteristic of this rash is its recurrent nature.
Although the cause is not known in about 50% of cases, urticaria is most commonly due to the skin reaction to allergens, infection, extremes of temperature, insect bites, stress, etc. Those with asthma, hay fever, are at higher risk of having urticaria. On rare occasion, urticaria may be a prelude to the development of a life threatening immunological reaction such as anaphylactic shock.
The symptoms are due to the reaction of the blood vessels in the skin and the release of histamine and other mediators of inflammation from the mast cells (special type of white blood cell present within the skin) when the skin comes in contact with the specific trigger.
Treatment is with the use of antihistamines and corticosteroids while prevention is by avoiding the trigger factors.
The effectiveness of acupuncture in relieving the symptoms of urticaria has been established in a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized control trials which were performed and published in 2016.
The review included six trials with a total number of 406 participants. The duration of the interventions was 2 to 4 weeks. Three of the trials showed the superiority of acupuncture over the usual drugs in terms of global symptom improvement. As an adjuvant to medication, acupuncture was found to be beneficial for global symptom improvement. There were no severe adverse events related to acupuncture in any of the patients.
Qin Yao, Shanshan Li,Xiaoxu Liu, Zongshi Qin, and Zhishun Liu. The Effectiveness and Safety of Acupuncture for Patients with Chronic Urticaria: A Systematic Review.BioMed Research International. Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5191729.