Cupping is pretty common in Singapore. You might have seen your friend or colleague walking around with circular bruises on their back or arm. The ancient Chinese therapy involves using glass or plastic cups to create a vacuum/suction effect, which causes small blood vessels to break. This leaves those bruise-like marks, which traditional Chinese medicine experts claim are signs of toxins being pulled to the surface.

A lot of celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston swear by the treatment, as do some Singaporeans. For most people, it doesn’t involve adverse side effects, apart from the bruises that fade after a few days.

Also read: Cupping: Help Or Hype?

But for Chinese actress Deng Sha, a cupping treatment gone wrong left her with second-degree burns.

The Story of Yanxi Palace actress had related the incident through a Weibo post. In the post, she said that she had felt unwell after an attending event and decided to go for a massage at a spa in Beijing. There, she got had cupping therapy done as well.

Something went wrong during her therapy, leaving her with second-degree burns on her back and the top of her right arm.

She posted four images, including those of the injured area and a medical report from Beijing Jishuitan Hospital.

Also read: Can Tuina Massage Cause Death?

She also included tips on what her followers can do if it happens to them in the future.

  1. Make sure your long hair is tied (otherwise it’s easy to for it to catch fire and burn your face)
  2. Calm down and deal with it rationally (you can’t expect people around you not to be flustered and have common sense and ability to handle it well)
  3. If the alcohol on your body catches fire, promptly cover the area with a wet towel or cloth to put out the fire
  4. Run cold water over the wounded area immediately (the doctor said this trick is the most useful. I have blisters on areas where I didn’t douse with cold water)
  5. Be sure to smear the wound with a cream like BurnAid (the doctor said that toothpaste and sesame oil don’t work) before going to the hospital for examination

She added that she will be seeing the doctor again in three weeks’ time and will only find out the extent of scarring then. The doctor had pre-empted her that areas where her skin is white might be scarred.

Also read: I Tried TCM-Pilates To See If It’d Relieve My Pain

Doing cupping in Singapore? Use this checklist when looking for a TCM practitioner.

  • Is the practitioner certified under the TCM registry in Singapore? To learn about how you can access the registry, visit
  • Is the practitioner able to communicate confidently and effectively, the procedures and risks involved?
  • Has the practitioner been making the extra effort to keep the facility and equipment sterile?

Image: Deng Sha’s Weibo