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Doxepin (On the skin)

Reduces itching caused by skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis or lichen simplex chronicus.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Topical doxepin is used to relieve itching in patients with certain types of eczema. It appears to work by preventing the effects of histamine, which is a substance produced by the body that causes itching. Doxepin is available only with your doctor's prescription… Read more
Brand names include
Prudoxin, Zonalon
Other forms
By mouth
Drug classes About this
Dermatological Agent

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Effectiveness and safety of doxepin for primary insomnia: a systematic review

Bibliographic details: Yuan JQ, Yang KH, Liu YL, Yang SP.  Effectiveness and safety of doxepin for primary insomnia: a systematic review. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2010; 10(11): 1325-1330

Neuropathic Pain: The Pharmacological Management of Neuropathic Pain in Adults in Non-Specialist Settings

This clinical guideline covers the management of neuropathic pain conditions in adults (aged 18 or over) in primary care and secondary care, excluding specialist pain management clinics. The aim of the guideline is to provide clear recommendations to healthcare professionals in non-specialist settings on the treatment and management of neuropathic pain. This includes recommendations on appropriate and timely referral to specialist pain services and/or condition-specific services. In general, regarding neuropathic pain as a ‘blanket condition’, irrespective of the underlying cause, is helpful and practical for both non-specialist healthcare professionals and patients. However, condition-specific recommendations and research recommendations have been made where robust evidence on clinical and cost effectiveness exists for specific conditions, or where the evidence is clearly uncertain. The guideline excludes acute pain arising directly (in the first 3 months) from trauma or orthopaedic surgical procedures.

Drug Class Review: Neuropathic Pain: Final Update 1 Report [Internet]

We compared the effectiveness and harms of anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants, serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and the lidocaine patchin adults with neuropathic pain.

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Summaries for consumers

Interventions for people with schizophrenia who have too much saliva due to clozapine treatment

Clozapine is an antipsychotic medication used in the treatment of schizophrenia, a mental health problem that can cause symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions and social withdrawal. Clozapine may be useful in those for whom other medications have not worked very well. One of the common side‐effects of clozapine is having too much saliva in the mouth (hypersalivation). This can be embarrassing in public and problematic, especially at night. This review is about ways of reducing this problem and includes 15 trials containing 964 people, most of which were done in hospitals in China. Treatments included medications that had previously been useful for this problem or were thought to work in theory. The medications used were from a group of drugs called antimuscarinics, traditional Chinese medicines or others. The trials were short (all four weeks or less). From these trials the antimuscarinics; astemizole, diphenhydramine and propantheline, were shown to be better than placebo at reducing hypersalivation. Another medication called oryzanol and a Chinese traditional medicine called Suo quo wan were found to have benefit over doxepin, an antimuscarinic. However, because of the shortness of the trials, poor reporting and the limitations of design, it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from these results. 

Do pharmacotherapies which reduce anxiety help smokers to quit

Anxiety can contribute to increased smoking, and may be a smoking withdrawal symptom. Medications to reduce anxiety (anxiolytics) may theoretically help smokers trying to quit. There have not been many trials, and none of them showed strong evidence of an effect on quitting.

Use of medication to treat depression in people with opioid dependence

There is little evidence to support the use of antidepressants for treating people who are dependent on opioids and have clinical depression. Depression is more common in people with substance abuse and dependence than in the general population. The depression experienced is also associated with an increased risk of completed suicide. Depression may represent an independent disorder, the psychosocial stress associated with addictive behavior or it could be a consequence of drug use and drug withdrawal effects. A maintenance program with opioid agonists (methadone, buprenorphine, LAAM) is an effective treatment for people who are dependent on opioids in terms of retention in treatment and reduced use of opioids. Depression is however still prevalent and negatively impacts on treatment outcomes. Treatment with antidepressant drugs has therefore been proposed. These adjunct drug treatments include tricyclic antidepressants (doxepin, desipramine, imipramine) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs fluoxetine, sertraline).

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