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Images in Dermatology
December 12, 2018

Suction Blisters

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Dermatology Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, California
  • 3Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California, San Francisco
  • 4Program for Clinical Research, Department of Dermatology, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA Dermatol. Published online December 12, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.3277

A woman in her 60s presented for evaluation of a vesicular eruption. A few weeks before presentation, she had fallen and injured her shoulder. She attempted to treat her shoulder using “dry cupping,” but she fell asleep after applying the cups with a handheld pump, and when she awoke 30 minutes later, she saw bullae in the areas of the cupping (Figure). Since the bullae were causing the patient discomfort, they were drained, and the blister roof was left to serve as a natural dressing. Petroleum jelly was applied under sterile dressing. Cupping is a manual therapy technique from traditional Chinese medicine that involves positioning a cup on the skin and creating a vacuum. It is thought that negative pressure increases blood flow to the area and speeds healing.1 New hand-pumped systems allow increased suction resulting in this unique bullous eruption.

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