Background. Trophic ulceration, one of the most common complications of leprosy, is disabling, distressing, and demoralizing for the patient.

Methods. The wound healing effects of topical phenytoin powder were compared with those of normal saline in a controlled in-patient study of 100 patients with 110 trophic leprosy ulcers of varying chronicity, over a 4-week study period. Fifty patients were assigned to the topical phenytoin group and 50 to saline therapy group. Ten patients had two ulcers each, and, in these cases, one ulcer was treated with phenytoin and the other with saline.

Results. Over the 4-week treatment period healthy granulation tissue appeared earlier, and mean percentage of ulcer volume reduction was greater, in the phenytoin group (72.1 ± 19.9% versus 55.5 ± 21.6%) compared with the control group.

Conclusions. This difference was statistically significant at the level of P < 0.001. Phenytoin appears to be a useful agent for the promotion of healing of trophic leprosy ulcers.