Author(s): Gilchrest BA, Rowe JW, Brown RS, Steinman TI, Arndt KA
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Abstract We studied the effect of ultraviolet-light phototherapy on severe persistent pruritus in 18 adult patients on hemodialysis. Patients were randomly assigned to one of two light sources. The experimental group received conventional sunburn-spectrum light in gradually increasing doses. The control group received time-matched exposures to long-wave ultraviolet light. All patients received eight exposures to the entire skin surface over a four-week treatment period. Nine of 10 patients in the sunburn-spectrum group reported marked decrease in pruritus as opposed to two of eight in the placebo group (P less than 0.01). of those responding to sunburn-spectrum light, improvement usually occurred two to three weeks into treatment. Mild sunburn, noted by some patients in this group, was the only side effect. The response to phototherapy was unaffected by the presence of secondary hyperparathyroidism. Ultraviolet phototherapy is a safe, convenient, inexpensive and effective treatment for uremic pruritus.
This article was published in N Engl J Med
and referenced in General Medicine: Open Access