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Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2009 May-Jun;27(3 Suppl 54):51-4.

Vitamin E gel reduces time of healing of digital ulcers in systemic sclerosis.

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Department of Biomedicine, Scleroderma Ulcer Care Unit, Division of Rheumatology, AOUC, University of Florence, Italy.



In systemic sclerosis (SSc), digital ulcers (DU) are painful, difficult to heal and frequently infected, thus greatly affecting quality of life and increasing SSc-related disability. Vitamin E has been previously used in cutaneous lesions for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.


To study the healing effect of D-alpha-tocopheryl acetate (acetic ester of alpha-tocopherol) (VE) gel on DU of SSc patients.


27 SSc patients with a total of 86 DU were enrolled in an open pilot study. The patients were randomly assigned to two groups: 15 patients were treated until DU healing with the local standard ulcer care protocol with the application of vitamin E gel (experimental group), while 12 patients were treated with standard ulcer care protocol only (control group). In both groups, DU were treated twice a week and pain was scored by a NRS (numeric rating scale). In both groups the cost of medications was analysed.


VE induced a faster healing of DU in respect to controls (13.22+/-2.72 weeks, versus 20.94+/-3.65; p<0.0001) with a lower number of medications (26.18+/-5.63 vs. 41.88+/-7.31; p<0.0001). Resolution of pain was faster in experimental (17.82+/-4,59 medications) than in controls (26.26+/-19.16 medications) (p=0.0022). In the experimental group, the cost of medications was significantly lower (6,919.15 euros/patient) than in the control group (11,056.32 euros/patient).


The application of VE reduces time of healing and has a faster resolution of pain, with a significant reduction of costs. Topical VE may improve the management of DU in SSc.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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