Back issues No.1 - 1997 / Original Study  

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'Treatment of Postherpetic neuralgia with Topical Capsaicin
Chi-Fang Chu, Han-Nan Liu, Chu-Kwan Wong
Dermatol Sinica 15: 7-12, 1997

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is the most common complication of herpes zoster, paricularly in elder patients. Current treatments are usually unsatisfactory. Recently topical capsaicin treatment was reported to be effective for PHN in western literature. Twenty patients of PHN were treated with 0.025% capsaicin cream topically 4 times daily for at least 4 weeks in our study. Subjective pain scores were assessed before treatment and weekly thereafter. Sixty percent of the 20 atiemts felt significant pain relief, and 35% achieved at least a good or excellent result. Three patients dropped out ; two of them ceased the trial due to unbearable post-capsaicin burning sensation. The other one got severe irritant contact dermatitis developed soon after the second application. Post-capasicin burning sensation occurred in all patients and usually was most prominent during the first week. This open clinical trial revealed topical capsaicin treatment is an effective and practical modality for PHN. Further investigations of its mechanism and vehicle development are necessary to establish the therapeutic guidelines.

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