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A randomised controlled trial on photo(chemo)therapy of subacute purigo


  • Conflict of interest: none declared.

Dr Thilo Gambichler, Department of Dermatology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Gudrunstr. 56, D-44791 Bochum, Germany.


Background.  Psoralen ultraviolet A (PUVA) is the standard photo(chemo)therapeutic regimen for patients suffering from subacute prurigo (SP).

Hypothesis.  Regarding efficacy, bath PUVA is not superior to medium-dose ultraviolet-A1 (MD-UVA1) and narrowband ultraviolet-B (NB-UVB), which may be considered the new photo(chemo)therapeutic options for SP.

Methods.  We performed a prospective randomised, controlled, three-arm photo(chemo)therapeutic study. Patients suffering from histopathologically proven SP with a clinical score (PIP score; papules, infiltration and pruritus) of at least 5 points were enrolled into the study. Treatment with bath PUVA was performed 4 times weekly and MD-UVA1 and NB-UVB 5 times weekly. Photo(chemo)therapy was administered over a 4-week period. Outcome measure was the severity of SP investigated by means of the PIP score after 4 weeks of therapy.

Results.  In total, 33 patients with SP were randomly allocated to photo(chemo)therapy. Bath PUVA (n = 9), MD-UVA1 (n = 11) and NB-UVB (n = 13) resulted in a significant reduction of the baseline PIP score as assessed on the basis of intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis (P = 0.003). However, ITT analysis revealed significantly higher PIP score reduction in patients who were treated with bath PUVA and MD-UVA1 compared with NB-UVB (P < 0.01, 95% CI 1.1–3.63 and P < 0.05, 95% CI 0.42–2.70, respectively).

Conclusions.  Photo(chemo)therapy, including bath PUVA, MD-UVA1 and NB-UVB, appears to be an effective and safe treatment option for patients suffering from SP. UVA1 and particularly PUVA seem superior to NB-UVB in the management of SP.