Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers

Ann Dermatol. 2010 May;22(2):143-8. doi: 10.5021/ad.2010.22.2.143. Epub 2010 May 17.


Background: Several studies have been performed to evaluate the efficacy of dietary n-3 fatty acid for patients with renal dysfunction. While about 40% to 80% of patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) complain about pruritus and xerosis, there are few reports on the effects of topical n-3 fatty acid on these symptoms.

Objective: In order to investigate the possible beneficial effects of topical n-3 fatty acid, oils extracted from chia (Salvia hispanica) seed were formulated into topical products, the effects of which were measured.

Methods: Five healthy volunteers having xerotic pruritus symptoms and 5 patients with pruritus caused by either ESRD or diabetes were involved in this study. A topical formulation containing 4% chia seed oils were applied for an 8-week duration. Subjective itching symptoms were assessed on a 6-point scale, as were other skin functions, namely transepidermal water loss and skin capacitance.

Results: After the 8 weeks of application, significant improvements in skin hydration, lichen simplex chronicus, and prurigo nodularis were observed in all patients. A similar improvement was also observed among healthy volunteers with xerotic pruritus. Improvement of epidermal permeability barrier function and skin hydration, represented by trans-epidermal water loss and skin capacitance, respectively, were also observed. No adverse effects were observed in all the tested patients and volunteers.

Conclusion: Chia seed oil can be used as an adjuvant moisturizing agent for pruritic skin, including that of ESRD patients.

Keywords: Alpha-linolenic acid; Chia seed oil; End-stage renal failure; Omega-3 fatty acids; Pruritus.