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Topical Propranolol Therapy for Infantile Hemangiomas


  • Karin Kunzi-Rapp M.D.

    1. Department of Dermatology and Allergic Diseases, Ulm
    2. Institute for Laser Technologies in Medicine and Metrology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
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Address correspondence to Karin Kunzi-Rapp, M.D., Department of Dermatology and Allergic Diseases, University of Ulm, Maienweg 12, D-89081 Ulm, Germany, or e-mail:


Abstract:  The nonselective beta-adrenergic receptor antagonist propranolol is an effective therapy for infantile hemangiomas. Systemic propranolol therapy shows a rapid therapeutic effect with good drug tolerability. We report on the efficacy of local application of propranolol ointment in superficial hemangiomas of the skin. In our outpatient department, 45 children with 65 hemangiomas were treated with 1% propranolol in a hydrophilic ointment topically applied twice a day. Before start of treatment and at each visit, clinical photographs were taken. If ultrasound did not confirm occult deeper components, children were included in the study. Treatment in the proliferative phase within the first 6 months of life (including seven preterm infants) induced regression in 59% and cessation of growth in 26% of the hemangiomas. No response or proliferation of subcutaneous components was observed in 15%. Clinically, no side effects caused by the beta-receptor blocker were noticed. Treatment of two ulcerated hemangiomas of the perineal region twice using a flash lamp pulsed-dye laser and propranolol ointment in the surrounding lesion led to healing of the ulcers in 3 and 6 weeks, respectively. In six patients, topical therapy was started between the ages of 7 and 33 months. Even in these hemangiomas, improvement was obvious after 2 or 3 months. Propranolol administered topically in 1% ointment could have a beneficial effect on superficial hemangiomas of the skin. The treatment was well tolerated without side effects even in preterm infants and in children with numerous or large lesions.