DO SYSTEMIC ANTIPRURITIC AGENTS WORK?
Article first published online: 29 JUL 2006
British Journal of Dermatology
Volume 103, Issue 1, pages 113–118, July 1980
How to Cite
Savin, J.A. (1980), DO SYSTEMIC ANTIPRURITIC AGENTS WORK?. British Journal of Dermatology, 103: 113–118. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.1980.tb15850.x
- Issue published online: 29 JUL 2006
- Article first published online: 29 JUL 2006
‘Most of the agents recommended for the control of itching during the last two decades have not stood the test of time. Many have been discarded, and the continuing use of several of the remaining ones has been dictated not so much by the results obtained as by the desire to prescribe something for the complaining patient.’
Another 20 years have slipped past since Cormia & Dougherty wrote so bluntly about the subject in 1959. But has the picture really changed? The complaining patients still exist and skin clinics still echo to the rasp of fingernails on skin. There is obviously still a demand for at least one effective antipruritic agent, to be used in conditions like atopic eczema which cannot always be controlled by topical measures, and which cause long-term distress. This demand is matched by a mass swallowing of drugs reputed to have antipruritic effects—at least 50,000 prescriptions being issued each year in the United Kingdom alone. Yet despite this, skin text books are still coy about confirming that these drugs, usually antihistamines, do in fact suppress itching. Patients are sometimes less complimentary.
This review attempts the difficult task of assessing whether, 20 years on, the use of so-called antipruritic agents is still based upon inadequate evidence.