Cupping Aftercare: Do's and Don'ts After Cupping Treatment

Cupping aftercare: Do’s and don’ts after a cupping treatment

Cupping treatment is an ancient form of healing therapy that has been practiced over millennia in traditional Chinese, Korean, Tibetan and Unani traditional medicine systems. Today, it is a popular alternative therapy for a wide range of conditions, most notably chronic pain. By lifting the skin, stimulating the underlying tissues and applying pressure to myofascial trigger points, cupping therapy has been found to reduce neck, back and shoulder pain in sufferers.

Cupping is also an effective treatment for skin complaints (such as acne and cellulitis), lowering LDL cholesterol and digestive issues (such as constipation and nausea). But before you try cupping therapy for yourself, it’s important to be up to speed on the do’s and don’ts of preparing for your treatment, as well as any possible side effects.

What are the potential side effects of cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy is generally a very safe treatment; however, there are a few possible side effects you need to be aware of first. 

First; scarring and infection. This is more common with wet cupping (in which a small incision is made to the skin prior to the application of cups), when bacteria may be allowed to enter the bloodstream. However, this is preventable with a little research into your clinic of choice. A well-run, professional clinic will use sterilized equipment and proper handwashing techniques to prevent this.

If heat is used during your treatment, there is also a slight risk of burns. However, just like infection, this is preventable if you opt for a skilled and experienced practitioner.

More common side effects of cupping include dizziness or lightheadedness (brought on by decreased blood pressure), bruising or discoloration of the skin, redness and/or tenderness of treated areas, itching and fatigue. These symptoms are mild, however, and can be easily managed with proper cupping aftercare.

Who should avoid cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy isn’t for everyone! The treatment is not recommended for people with the following conditions:

  • Sunburn
  • Skin wounds
  • Skin ulcers
  • Recent experiences of trauma
  • Disorders affecting the internal organs
  • Pregnancy

If you do have any of the above conditions, it is advisable to consult your GP before booking yourself in for a cupping session.

Cupping pre- and aftercare: do’s and don’ts


Choose a clinic with a good reputation for cleanliness

This is of utmost importance for preventing infection and scarring as a result of cupping treatment. These side effects are entirely preventable if your clinic of choice is professional and well-run. Before you start your treatment, make sure your practitioner is using the proper protective equipment (i.e. gloves, gown, mask) and correct hand washing and disinfectant techniques. Cups should be completely sterile before application to the skin; in fact, disposable equipment is preferable to sterilized equipment to completely minimize the risk of infection.

Drink plenty of water after your treatment

Cupping therapy releases toxins from the tissues and draws them to the surface of the skin where they can be more easily eliminated by the lymphatic system. It is important to drink plenty of water after your treatment to facilitate the elimination of these toxins from the body.

Eat a small, easily digestible meal within two hours of your treatment

Many people report feeling lightheaded, dizzy or nauseous after a cupping treatment. These are completely normal side effects, and should pass shortly after your treatment has concluded. However, you can reduce this effect by eating a small, easily digestible meal within two hours of your treatment, as cupping on an empty stomach can exacerbate dizziness and nausea.

Rest up and go to bed early after your treatment

Many people experience fatigue after cupping therapy as your body works overtime to process the toxins released as a result of the treatment. Listen to your body and take ample rest after a cupping session, and make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time to give yourself chance to recover.

Avoid drafts and chills

Cupping therapy opens the pores of the skin, making you more susceptible to drafts and chills. You should avoid showers, drafts or anything else that may chill your body on the day of your treatment.

Apply arnica gel or a gentle healing balm to tender areas

Cupping therapy usually results in some degree of redness and tenderness in treated areas. Application of arnica gel or another type of gentle healing balm can help to reduce this effect post-treatment.



It is important to avoid direct sun exposure for at least 24 hours after your cupping treatment, as the therapy can make your skin more sensitive than usual. The best way to do this is to keep affected areas covered by clothing and to avoid exposing your skin to direct sunlight for extended periods of time.

Shower, swim visit saunas or steam rooms

Cupping opens the pores and makes you more susceptible to chills. Avoid doing anything that could chill your body – this includes showering, swimming and visiting saunas or steam rooms.

Exercise excessively

Upping frequently causes fatigue and dizziness in those who undergo the treatment. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid excessive exercise for at least 24 hours after treatment, to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your body. If you want to exercise, opt for light physical activity, such as yoga.


Cupping therapy is widely used as an alternative healing treatment for a variety of chronic conditions. The treatment is non-invasive and generally very safe; however, there are certain side effects associated with the therapy that may require aftercare.

Make sure you eat within two hours of your treatment, rest well afterwards and avoid chills, excessive exercise and sun exposure after cupping. If you experience tenderness or redness in the treated areas, a gentle healing balm or arnica gel may be applied for relief from symptoms. It is especially important to do your research before booking yourself in for  cupping therapy, as clinics that do not follow the proper cleanliness protocols can increase your risk of scarring and skin infection.

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