Efficacy of Naltrexone in the Treatment of Chronic Refractory Itching in Burn Patients: Preliminary Report of an Open Trial

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Pruritis (itching) constitutes a source of severe distress for burn patients. The authors administered naltrexone to burn patients suffering from itching that was refractory to treatment with antihistamine and anticonvulsant medications to examine the efficacy of this medication as a treatment for pruritis in burn patients. Nineteen burn patients admitted to the Hallym Burn Center at Hangang Sacred Heart Hospital in Seoul, Korea, with burns over 40.32% (±18.3) of their total body surface were recruited for this study. The mean number of postburn days before naltrexone treatment was 157.3 days (±114.7). The authors observed a significant decrease in itching sensations after 2 weeks of treatment with naltrexone (z = −3.32, P = .001). Scratching activity was also decreased in 44.5% (±20.5) of subjects. The authors propose that naltrexone constitutes a potential antipruritic medication for burn patients suffering from treatment-refractory itching.

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