Prurigo Nodularis: Review and Emerging Treatments

Maria Leis, BA; Patrick Fleming, MD, FRCPC; Charles W. Lynde, MD, FRCPC


Skin Therapy Letter. 2021;26(3):5-8. 

In This Article

Current Treatments

Currently, there are no US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved targeted treatments for PN. Although the treatment goal is to break the itch-scratch cycle to allow the nodules to heal, there is a high degree of variability between providers and treatment regimens in the use of off-label therapies.[8,16] A recent systematic review assigned level of evidence ratings to the current treatment options for PN (Table 1). The review found that many current therapies have low efficacy or a high frequency of side effects, limiting their effectiveness. Further, there was a paucity of randomized control trials (8 RCTs, with only 3/8 having >22 participants with PN) and quality studies looking at treatment of PN. Overall, topical agents, including corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, calcipotriol, and capsaicin, had the highest evidence ratings, with some beneficial effects.[17] The majority of studies investigating phototherapy and photochemotherapy reported mild side effects and demonstrated good partial response rates, as did thalidomide, although it had poorer quality studies and a large side effect profile. Antiepileptics and antidepressants, such as pregabalin, amitriptyline, paroxetine, fluvoxamine, and neurokinin-1 receptor antagonists had strong evidence ratings with promising treatment results and low risks of side effects. Lastly, systemic immunomodulatory therapies, such as cyclosporine and methotrexate, demonstrated some benefit in a limited number of low evidence level studies. However, these systemic treatments had poor safety profiles.[17]

The lack of success with current treatments is likely due to the heterogeneity of disease and dearth of regimens addressing the immunologic and neural pathophysiologic components of PN.[8,17]