Rooted in TCM, cupping has been practiced for thousands of years. With the development of technology and changes in cupping methods, cupping materials are also innovating. The cup was made from bamboo at first, then to clay, and now glass and silicone. Regardless of the types of cupping sets that therapists use in cupping therapy, the basic cupping therapy theory is the same: creating negative pressure inside the cups; hence, when placing the cups on the body, the negative pressure can “suck” the skin up.
What are the factors of causing blisters or bubbles?
There are 4 main factors that may cause blisters or bubbles in cupping therapy:
1. Cupping Time:
If the practitioner leaves cups on the patient’s skin for too long, the patient is more likely to get blisters. Different patients have different health conditions and tolerance levels. Some patients may not get blisters or bubbles after using cups on them for 20 to 30 minutes, whereas some may start to get blisters or bubbles even after 5 to 10 minutes.
In order to acknowledge your tolerance level, please ask your therapist for a small test, like leaving one cup for a few minutes on your skin, before your first cupping session.
Patients are more likely to have blisters if the temperature of the cups is too high. It happens even to experienced practitioners, when they use especially fire glass cupping, the burning time is too long, it will make the glass cups turn to overheat and cause burning hurt.
Other material made cupping set like silicone cupping set or plastic cupping set have less possibility of creating blister because these types cups are not use burning fire to create suction.
3. Cupping Area:
Areas with thinner or sensitive skin can have a higher possibility of getting blisters or bubbles after cupping. For example, the flexor aspect of the forearm is an easy site for blister formation compared with leg and abdominal.
Children have more sensitive skin than adult, if using cupping on them, it is better to choose small size silicone cuppings, which create less strong suction and cover small area on the body
4. Cupping Strength:
As previously mentioned in the first reason, different patients have different tolerance levels. If the cupping treatment is over the patient's tolerance, it would cause blisters or bubbles on the skin. To avoid blisters or bubbles caused by cupping strength, it is better not to create too much pressure during the cupping process.
Which cups are more easily to cause blisters in cupping therapy?
Compared with silicone cupping sets and plastic cupping sets, fire glass cupping sets are more likely to cause blisters. Fire cupping requires a practitioner to burn cotton ball soaked alcohol or herbs in cups. Practitioners with inadequate experience, patients with more body hair, improper control of fire, or high temperature of burning over time are possible reasons for causing blisters.
If you want to try fire cupping therapy, it is important to research all clinics in your area and find the most trusted one, with knowledge, expertise, and high-rated reviews.
If, however, you do not feel comfortable having someone perform this treatment on you, but you are still interested in cupping, there are some cups available to use on yourself. We recommend Jade soft silicone cupping set or plastic cupping sets , which are extremely easy and safe to use on yourself. With these cupping sets, you will be able to control the strength of the suction, without fire or heat.
Are cupping blisters harmful?
According to the study “Is cupping blister harmful?- A proteomical analysis of blister fluid induced by cupping therapy and scald”, it was found that the protein components are significantly different between blisters from cupping therapy and scalds. The immune responses, oxidative stress and metabolic related proteins were increased, whereas the hemoglobin subunit beta was decreased in the Cupping group compared with the Scald group. Additionally, cupping induced blisters contain several proteins which are related to the activation of certain immune pathways including anti-oxidation, anti-apoptosis (prevent cell-death), tissue repairing and metabolic regulation.
Another study “The Study of Blister Caused by Cupping Therapy" also suggests that the fluid in the blister caused by cupping therapy is normal substance by laboratory analysis: the fluid has no signs of infection, Gram stain, or tissue biopsy. Moreover, cupping blisters are not histologically injurious to health and they are natural concomitants after cupping therapy.
In other words, people don’t need to worry about cupping blisters. Nevertheless, people still need to be careful of the fact that blisters could get infected.
What should I do for cupping blisters?
Even though the blister or bubble from cupping therapy can be self-healing after a few days, you still need to notice that there is a risk of infection. Treat the cupping blisters like normal wounds: pop and drain them as well as sterilize and cover them with bandages. Additionally, warm and clean dress, stay at least 24 hours to avoid taking a bath or shower, and prevent friction are recommended. If you feel your blisters are getting worse, you need to contact a doctor.
In conclusion, there are 4 main factors of causing cupping blisters or bubbles: cupping time, temperature, cupping area, and cupping strength. Blisters or bubbles after cupping are normal and harmless, there is nothing to worry about.
If you would like to do home cupping by yourself, consultation with a therapist is always recommended before trying cupping at home. Moreover, if you are looking for cupping sets like silicone cupping sets or plastic cupping sets, do not hesitate to visit Lierre.ca! We offer a wide range of high-quality and professional cupping sets as well as massage accessories for you!
Liu Z, Chen C, Li X, Zhao C, Li Z, Liang W, Lin Y. Is cupping blister harmful?-A proteomical analysis of blister fluid induced by cupping therapy and scald. Complement Ther Med. 2018 Feb;36:25-29. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2017.11.002. Epub 2017 Nov 14. PMID: 29458925. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29458925/
Yun, Hye-Yeon & Kwon, Sun-Oh & Kim, Seung-Tae & Park, Hi-Joon & Hahm, Dae-Hyun & Lee, Hye-Jung. (2011). The Study of Blister Caused by Cupping Therapy. Korean Journal of Acupuncture. 28. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264132955_The_Study_of_Blister_Caused_by_Cupping_Therapy