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Dermatol Ther. 2005 Jul-Aug;18(4):341-3.

Topical anti-itch therapy.

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  • 1Department of Dermatovenereology, 2nd Medical School, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.


Topical anti-itch therapy could be causative (antiviral, antimycotic, and/or antiparasitic preparations) or symptomatic. Symptomatic therapy includes substituting some other sensation by cooling, heating, and/or counterirritation, by anesthesia of sensory nerve endings with local anesthetics, blocking mediators of pruritus (to deplete substance P or to block acetylcholine release), and reducing inflammation of the skin with corticosteroids or topical immunomodulators (pimecrolimus and tacrolimus). In addition to drugs, the patient should be taught to use emollients and to avoid skin dryness and vasodilatation by contact with irritants. Topical anti-itch preparations can be recommended not only for treatment of localized pruritus, but also for therapy of generalized pruritus when general measures are not effective, systemic drugs are contraindicated, and/or as addition to causative or systemic therapy. Topical anti-itch preparations should be prescribed after the diagnosis is made and used as the first-choice treatment together with general measures.

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