Man gets blisters when cupping treatment goes wrong

PHOTO: Man gets blisters when cupping treatment goes wrong

SINGAPORE - He wanted to detoxify his body and sought out cupping therapy. But he ended up in much pain and discomfort, and later fell ill as well.

On Oct 6, the 30-year-old commodity trader, who wanted to be known only as Mr Fang, went to Beach Road with a friend for the treatment.

He told The New Paper: "It was part of a spa package my friend had bought and we decided to go for a session together as she recommended it."

His friend paid $5,000 for 25 sessions, said Mr Fang.

As the treatment went on, he felt that something was amiss. Blisters began to form on his back, neck and shoulder blades where the cupping was being done, said Mr Fang.

He believes this was because the masseur had left the cups on his body for too long.

Said Mr Fang: "He could have released the cups, but he continued to let them be until blisters formed and started oozing. He said this was due to the damp toxins in my body."


The blisters itched for a few days and became infected, causing Mr Fang to have a high fever.

As a result, he was forced to cancel a business trip to Vietnam, he said.

He related the incident to citizen journalism website Stomp.

Mr Fang's mother, Madam Chua, who is in her mid 50s said she advised him to see a doctor when she saw the blisters.

She said: "I've seen him go for cupping therapy many times, but this was the first time the blisters were so bad."

Mr Fang said he saw two doctors and a traditional Chinese medicine physician.

All said that the blisters were due to the cups remaining on the body for too long, he said.

Mr Fang said that he made a complaint at the spa on Oct 9. The staff put him through to the company's boss by phone.

But he responded in an unpleasant manner, Mr Fang alleged. According to him, the boss insisted that the blisters were normal because "as long as you have damp body toxins, you will have lots of blisters".

"He even accused me of never having done cupping before," Mr Fang said.

The spa eventually agreed to reimburse his medical fees in full. The fees came to $80.

The spa declined to comment.

Long periods of cupping may cause blisters

Cupping therapy is usually performed to detoxify the body or to reduce a body's "heatiness".

Mr Lau, the traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) physician whom Mr Fang consulted told TNP that blisters may form when the cups are placed on the skin for too long.

He added: "It is probable that the infection Mr Fang contracted was due to the damage done to his skin."

Mr Lau also noted that there are no regulations when it comes to performing cupping therapy.

While TCM physicians require licences to practise, masseurs in spas do not need a licence to perform the procedure.

When TNP sent Dr Tey Hong Liang, a consultant dermatologist at the National Skin Centre photos of Mr Fang's blisters, he said they were likely a result of the cupping therapy he received.

But he could not comment on the medical benefits of cupping therapy.

This article was published on Oct 17 in The New Paper.

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