Topical capsaicin for treatment of hemodialysis-related pruritus

J Am Acad Dermatol. 1992 Jan;26(1):91-4. doi: 10.1016/0190-9622(92)70013-6.


Pruritus is a significant problem for many patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Topical capsaicin depletes and prevents the reaccumulation of substance P in peripheral sensory neurons. Substance P functions in the transmission of pain and probably itch sensations. An open-label, uncontrolled trial and a double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial were conducted to evaluate the efficacy and safety of capsaicin 0.025% cream in the treatment of localized areas of pruritus in patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Eight of nine evaluable patients in the open-label trial reported marked relief or complete resolution of itching during the study period, and two of five evaluable patients in the double-blind trial reported complete resolution of itching in the capsaicin-treated arm with no or minimal improvement in the vehicle-treated arm. Twelve patients in the open-label trial and two in the double-blind trial were unevaluable. No serious treatment-related adverse reactions occurred.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Capsaicin / administration & dosage*
  • Capsaicin / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pruritus / drug therapy*
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*


  • Capsaicin