Azathioprine in the treatment of Parthenium dermatitis

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Parthenium dermatitis is a chronic disorder whose management is extremely difficult. Allergen avoidance is almost impossible, topical corticosteroid therapy provides only partial relief, and prolonged systemic corticosteroid therapy has unacceptable side-effects.


Twenty patients with chronic Parthenium dermatitis, with relative contraindications to systemic corticosteroids or their side-effects, were treated with oral azathioprine (100-150 mg daily). The severity of dermatitis was assessed at 0, 1, 3, 6, and 12 months using a modified PASI scoring system.


The mean age of the patients was 54 years (range, 40-72 years) and the mean duration of dermatitis was 7.6 years (range, 3 months to 36 years). The mean initial score was 18.9 (range, 3.3-42), which decreased to 8.8 (range, 1.6-18.2) at 3 months, 4.8 (range, 0.6-14.6) at 6 months, and 0.7 (range, 0.2-1.4) at 12 months. Of the 15 patients evaluated at 6 months, all but one showed a response. Ten (66.6%) patients showed near-total clearance, i.e. reduction in score by more than 90%, and three patients (20%) showed more than 50% reduction in score. No significant side-effects were noted.


Azathioprine is an effective and safe alternative to corticosteroid therapy in the treatment of chronic Parthenium dermatitis. It is especially useful in patients with side-effects or contraindications to corticosteroid therapy.

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