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summary

The effect of acupuncture on experimentally induced itch was studied in 10 healthy volunteers. Itching was induced by intradermal injections of histamine on the upper arm. ‘Placebo-acupuncture’, acupuncture and electro-acupuncture at 2 Hz or 80 Hz were applied over the injection site, proximal to the injection site (in the same dermatome) or extrasegmentally (ipsilateral to the injected arm) for a period of 5 min following induction of itch. In addition, the effect of a 5 min period and a 20 min period of stimulation of the skin area prior to the induction of itch were studied. The same periods of stimulation were also applied to extrasegmental points prior to the induction of itch on the arm. Acupuncture and 2 Hz and 80 Hz electro-acupuncture significantly reduced subjective itch intensity when applied intrasegmentally. No significant effects were obtained when stimulation was applied extrasegmentally. The results suggest that acupuncture or electro-acupuncture could be tried in clinical conditions associated with pruritus.