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Naltrexone cream relieves chronic itching

The local application of naltrexone to the skin relieves chronic itching in patients with allergic dermatitis.

Naltrexone cream relieves chronic itching

The local application of naltrexone to the skin relieves chronic itching in patients with allergic dermatitis. Naltrexone, an opiate receptor antagonist, is better known as Nodict. Other uses of naltrexone may include people with dry, irritated skin, especially the elderly population, and those with other chronic itching conditions. However, naltrexone does not work in acute forms of itching, hives, or kidney-related itching. Researchers from the Bigliardi of University Hospital studied 18 patients who had different chronic pruritic disorders. After 2 weeks of using a topical formulation of 1 per cent naltrexone, more than 70 per cent of these patients experienced a significant reduction in chronic itching, also known as pruritis. The researchers established a correlation between mu-opiate receptor (MOR) expression in skin biopsies and treatment with topical naltrexone. The team then went on to conduct a placebo, trial in 40 patients with localised and generalised allergy-related dermatitis with severe pruritis. Overall, naltrexone was about 30 per cent more effective than placebo. It was also faster, taking an average of 46 minutes to reduce symptoms by 50 per cent, compared to 74 minutes for placebo. The researchers note that part of the placebo effect may have been due to the rehydrating qualities of the placebo cream. The treatment of chronic pruritis is difficult because the commonly used antihistamines are not effective. But the results of the above study clearly indicate the potential of a topically applied opioid receptor antagonist in the treatment of pruritis, though further research is needed.
Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,
June 2007
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