Idiopathic aquagenic pruritus: efficacy of treatment with propranolol

Published Online: May 31, 2011

Idiopathic aquagenic pruritus is a disabling disease which occurs after contact with water, involving intense itching without visible skin changes and without internal pathology nor drugs that can induce this symptom. The classical therapies are limited, including the addition of sodium bicarbonate to bath water, antihistaminics or phototherapy.

In the present study, published recently in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Nosbaum et al report an improvement of more than 90% in 5/6 patients 3-month treated by propranolol with minimal side effects. This therapeutic effect of propranolol, β-receptor antagonist of adrenaline, suggests an inappropriate activation of the sympathetic nervous system in the occurrence of idiopathic aquagenic pruritus. The authors show that the prescription of propranolol should not be delayed, due to the lack of efficiency of conventional treatments in this disease.


The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is the official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.

AAAAI - American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology