The aim of this study was to determine whether in migraine patients with and without aura early treatment with various triptans leads to differences in pain reduction after 1 h and in modulating cutaneous allodynia. Thirty-six patients with early manifestation of a clinically recognizable allodynia of the face and non-responders to earlier treatment with sumatriptan 100 mg were included. Patients were randomized to six triptan treatment groups. Significant pain reduction was seen only in the group receiving zolmitriptan nasal spray 5 mg with a mean visual analogue scale (VAS) score of 3.8 (s.d. 1.2) at baseline and 2.4 (s.d. 1.3; P = 0.015) at 1 h after using the triptan and was thus a predictor of a VAS score 3 within 1 h. The study results indicate that migraine headache intensity can be reduced within 1 h by using zolmitriptan 5 mg nasal spray in spite of the presence of early cutaneous allodynia.