Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) technique used to relieve pain and other conditions related to inflammation by increasing circulation in the affected or treated area.
This ancient therapy has been around for many hundreds of years and has been influenced by many cultures. Today it’s widely used and accepted in Western medicine, especially for athletes to recover from strain to tissues.
If you’ve just finished treatment or are preparing to schedule and are wondering, “how long do cupping marks last?” then this all-you-need-to-know guide is for you.
You’ll learn what this ancient therapy is and the answers to many common questions, like how long the marks last after cupping treatment, plus tips on getting ready for or recovering after cupping therapy.
Introduction to Cupping Therapy
Cupping is a traditional therapy and well-recognized medical method used to manage a variety of health conditions. The treatment involves cups suctioned to the skin.
The method may have originated as a Chinese or Egyptian therapy, and it’s continued as a recognized form of Western treatment for conditions involving pain and inflammation.
What Are Cupping Marks?
Cupping marks are pressure marks left when the skin suctions away from the skin towards the cup. They’re caused by small, broken capillary vessels, which cause light bruising and increase liquids in the area to promote healing.
The marks vary in color from light reddish to deep red or purple depending on the type of skin, how long the cups are suctioned, how strong the suction is, and the health condition of the person receiving treatment.
How Long Do Cupping Marks Last?
One of the most-asked questions about cupping therapy is, “how long do cupping marks last?” The answer is that it varies from person to person and depends on many health factors and physical conditions.
For some people, the marks may only last an afternoon, while other people experience the marks for 3 to 10 days following treatment.
Factors that Affect How Long Cupping Marks Last
Many factors influence how long marks last after the therapy. The most common factors are related to pressure and time. Here’s aq quick overview.
- The suction intensity used. If you receive suctioning using high suction power, it’ll be more likely that your marks will last longer than with light suction.
- The treatment length. The longer a cup is suctioned, the more pronounced your marks might be.
- The skin type. People with lighter skin tend to develop more noticeable post-therapy marks than people with darker skin.
- Any pre-existing health conditions. Certain health conditions make people more prone to longer-lasting cupping marks. Some conditions that contraindicate the therapy include diabetes, eczema, and psoriasis.
Tips for Reducing the Appearance of Cupping Marks
Cupping marks are a typical result of therapy that uses suctioning cups and usually disappear naturally after a few days. But there are some things you can do to speed up the fading process.
One of the best ways to help the marks go away faster is by hydrating and resting. Licensed therapists suggest getting plenty of rest and drinking water immediately following your cupping therapy treatment to help aid in the healing process.
Another way to soothe the affected skin is by applying aloe vera gel and avoiding aggressive exfoliation while the skin heals.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Cupping Marks
In many cases, the marks left by this traditional therapy aren’t a problem and will disappear within a few days. However, there are some cases in which you should seek medical attention.
Seek medical attention if you notice signs of infection, including pus, swelling, or significant redness, or if you experience skin discoloration that persists after a few days or worsened anemia or eczema, or psoriasis following therapy.
Side Effects of Cupping
Even though many professional medical sources support this traditional medical practice, there’s more likely to be discovered, and study methods could be improved with a convincing placebo comparison.
Some unfavorable side effects of cupping include skin discoloration that lasts and can leave burns and scars and lead to infection. The therapy has been related to worsening eczema and psoriasis.
Misconceptions About Cupping
One misconception about cupping is that people in poor health need it. While the therapy can be used to treat a variety of diseases, it is also widely used as a form of therapy for typical health conditions experienced by relatively healthy people, like decreasing toxins, relieving pain, and promoting mobility.
Other Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Besides using cupping for its commonly known uses, like helping to reduce pain and inflammation, the therapy is also beneficial in improving circulation, reducing stress and anxiety, improving digestion, and increasing immune functions.
The History of Cupping
Cupping as a holistic method for treating diseases may have originated in early Egyptian and Chinese medicine, and many cultures have contributed to the evolution of the therapy into its uses today.
The original cups used for cupping were made of natural materials, like bamboo, horn, or ceramic. Natural fiber cups are used by heating them and then applying them to the skin. There they cool, creating suction that draws the skin away. Today’s cups are typically made of glass or silicone and are used by several different methods.
Methods for Cupping
There are four different methods for cupping.
- Dry: This is a suction-only method.
- Wet/bloodletting: This type of cupping involves small perforations in the skin in specific areas using a lancet, and then cupping therapy is done over the area. This form is similar to a technique called “Hijama.”
- Running/gliding: Cups suctioned to oiled skin and moved over the skin to massage the area. This method is typically used on the body’s meridians and continued for up to 10 minutes. The technique can be used to treat large areas more quickly, like the back and thighs.
- Flash: Quick suction and release of cups on a certain area of the body.
- Stationary: Cotton soaked in alcohol is lit and inserted briefly into the cup, then removed, and the cup placed onto the skin. The cup suctions and is typically left on the skin for up to 10 minutes.
How to Prepare for a Cupping Session
If you are interested in trying cupping therapy, there are a few things you can do to prepare for your session.
First, it is important to find a qualified practitioner who has experience with this therapy. You should also talk to your doctor before trying therapy, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.
On the day of your session, it is important to stay hydrated and avoid eating a heavy meal beforehand. You should also wear loose, comfortable clothing that allows easy access to the areas being treated.
FAQs About Cupping
How Often Can I Do Cupping Therapy?
Cupping is recommended to do one to two times per week, depending on how your body reacts.
What Do the Mark Colors Mean?
Cupping therapy marks can look light pink in color or be dark red or purple.
- No redness: No reddening of the skin signifies qi and blood deficiency.
- Mild redness: Light red marks left from treatment are typically a sign of healthy blood circulation.
- Excess dampness: Lots of water droplets residing on the skin after a therapy treatment is a sign of excess skin dampness.
- Moderate redness: Moderate reddening of the skin during or after therapy signifies moderate stagnation in the area.
- Deep reddening: Extensive or dark reddening of the skin around the treatment area infers severe stagnation in the area.
- Spotting with reddening: Spotting or reddish blotching of the treatment area signifies toxin accumulation in the area.
Who Is Cupping Good For?
This traditional medicine and therapy can be healing to most people, but it isn’t recommended for people with weaknesses or conditions such as:
- Inflamed, sensitive skin
- Fever or likely to experience convulsions
- Anemia or other conditions involving bleeding easily
What Conditions Can Be Treated with Cupping?
Several medical conditions can commonly be treated with cupping therapy. Some benefits of the therapy include:
- Pain reduction: Decreases muscle activity.
- Muscle relaxation: Improves microcirculation, cell repair, and tissue angiogenesis.
- Healing promotion: Increases metabolism of local tissues.
- Lymphatic system activation: Drains excess toxins and fluids from the area tissues.
- Relaxation support: Induces comfort to the system.
- Musculoskeletal pain reduction: Good for chronic lower back pain, fibromyalgia, and neck pain.
- Digestive support: Helps reduce gastric reflux, constipation, and bloating.
- Recovery from illnesses: Supports the immune system in recovering from the common cold, asthma, and some other breathing problems.
Conclusion: Is Cupping Therapy Right for You?
Cupping therapy is a safe and effective treatment for a range of conditions. While the post-therapy marks can be a bit unsightly, they are generally harmless and will disappear on their own within a few days.
Although cupping has been around for a long time and adopted by many cultures, plenty of study is left to do to fully understand how it can be used to help the body heal and for what conditions it can be most beneficial.
If you are interested in trying cupping therapy, be sure to find a qualified practitioner and talk to your doctor first. With the right preparation and care, cupping therapy can be a beneficial addition to your overall wellness routine.