Effective symptomatic treatment for severe and intractable pruritus associated with severe burn-induced hypertrophic scars: A prospective, multicenter, controlled trial

Burns. 2016 Aug;42(5):1059-1066. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2015.09.021. Epub 2016 May 17.


Background: Burn-induced hypertrophic scars are disfiguring and can be associated with severe and intractable pruritus. No effective treatment modalities are currently available for symptomatic control of pruritus for most patients. We assessed the effect of the Antipruritic Hydrogel (CQ-01) in the symptomatic treatment of severe and intractable pruritus associated with burn-induced hypertrophic scars in a prospective, multicenter, controlled trial.

Methods: A pilot study was conducted in healthy adult volunteers to identify the most appropriate hydrogel formulation. A selected preparation called Chongqing No. 1 (CQ-01; a guar gum-based hydrogel impregnated with peppermint oil, menthol, and methyl salicylate by a nanoemulsion), showed an excellent symptomatic relief in an exploratory study in 2 patients with intractable pruritus. A statistically powered, prospective, multicenter, controlled study was then conducted in 74 patients to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a 24-h application of CQ-01 compared to a gel control and a negative control on three separate areas in each patient. Symptom assessment was based on our visual analog JW scale (ranging from 0 to 100) at baseline and various time points up to 7 days after application. Follow-up studies were conducted to determine the reproducibility of CQ-01 in repeated applications.

Results: Of the 74 enrolled subjects, the only observed adverse event was skin irritation reported in 6 patients (8%) and resolved shortly after gel removal. Compared to the baseline, the gauze negative control had a mean JW score reduction of 7; while the gel control and CQ-01 had a drop of 18 (p<0.001) and 36 (p<0.001), respectively. The CQ-01 clinical effect was significant for up to 3 days and waned slowly from 3 to 7 days. There was no statistical correlation between the treatment response and any of the demographic, patient or burn-related factors. Further studies showed a trend that repeated applications might be more effective, suggesting the absence of tachyphylaxis.

Conclusions: This prospective, multicenter, controlled study showed that this novel hydrogel CQ-01 is safe and provides significant symptomatic relief for severe and intractable pruritus associated with hypertrophic scars, an unmet medical need for these patients. This effect is independent of the etiology of the burn trauma, extent of the scarring, and duration of the scar formation.

Keywords: Burn; Hydrogel; Hypertrophic scars; ITT; PP; Pruritus.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antipruritics / adverse effects
  • Antipruritics / therapeutic use*
  • Burns / complications*
  • Cicatrix, Hypertrophic / complications*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrogels / adverse effects
  • Hydrogels / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Pruritus / therapy*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Young Adult


  • Antipruritics
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Hydrogels
  • Plant Extracts