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J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Nov;15(11):1243-5. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0282.

Iatrogenic bullae following cupping therapy.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Taipei Medical University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.



Cupping therapy is a popular technique in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cupping is the application of a vacuum to a closed system cup on a specific area of skin. SUBJECT AND SETTING: A 55-year-old, previously healthy man presented at our emergency department (ED) due to tingling and a painful sensation on his back after receiving cupping therapy while on his private airplane. Physical examination of the patient's back revealed multiple blisters within circular marks of differing sizes and varying shades of redness, petechiae, and ecchymosis.


After regular, judicious changes of sterile dressing over several weeks at our ED, the vesicle healed well and left no visible scars.


Although bleeding, erythema, edema, and ecchymosis are created on purpose to achieve acupuncture point microcirculation, complications such as burn injury and thrombocytopenia also have been reported. We report a case of cupping-related blisters as a result of changes in atmospheric pressure related to the unexpected descent of an airplane.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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