We investigated the antipruritic effect of a 15-min application of dimethindene maleate (Fenistil® gel) and other local analgesics (Optiderm®, EMLA®, Xylocain® ointment 5%) on subsequent focal histamine stimulus (20 mC) given by iontophoresis in 12 patients suffering from acute atopic eczema (AE). The results were compared to histamine after pretreatment with the respective placebo and to non-pretreated skin. Wheal and flare areas were planimetrically evaluated. Itch or pain ratings were performed over a 24-min period using a rating scale. The examination also comprised alloknesis, i.e. induction of a peri-focal itch sensation by a non-itching mechanical stimulus. None of the antihistaminic and anaesthetic agents reduced the itch intensity significantly. Three of the AE patients had a total lack of alloknesis. We conclude that these substances, when applied for 15 min, are not sufficiently effective in atopic skin suppressing histamine-induced reactions under experimental conditions. The diminished elicitation of alloknesis in these patients may be a result of central nervous system alteration.

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