BACKGROUND: Chronic, therapy-resistant pruritus often fails to respond to standard measures so new therapeutic approaches are needed. Recently, the expression of cannabinoid receptors on cutaneous sensory nerve fibers was described, so cannabinoid agonists seem a rational therapeutic option for pruritus.
PATIENTS: In an open application observation 22 patients with prurigo, lichen simplex and pruritus applied an emollient cream containing N-palmitoyl ethanolamine (PEA).
RESULTS: In 14/22 patients a good antipruritic effect could be documented. The average reduction in itch was 86.4%. The therapy was well-tolerated by all patients; neither burning burn nor contact dermatitis was observed.
CONCLUSIONS: Topical cannabinoid agonists represent an new effective and well-tolerated therapy for refractory itching of various origins. Creams with a higher concentration may be even more effective with broader indications.