(Last Updated On: December 13, 2018)
Authors: Therese Giannine V. Ledesma, MD, DPDS , Eleanor G. Casal-Panis, MD, DPDS Leilani R. Senador, MD, FPDS, Johannes F. Dayrit, MD, FPDS, Ma. Teresita G. Gabriel, MD, FPDS


Background: Lichen simplex chronicus (LSC) is a chronic, pruritic, inflammatory skin condition that causes thickening of affected skin areas due to persistent scratching. It is currently managed by clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment, but inherent side effects and high cost limit its use. Bee propolis is known to possess anti-inflammatory activity, rendering it as a potential alternative treatment for LSC.

Objective: To compare the safety and efficacy of bee propolis 5% ointment with clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment in the treatment of LSC.

Methods: This was a randomized, double-blind clinical trial. The first phase was a patch test of bee propolis 5% ointment on 30 healthy volunteers. The second phase was a clinical trial of 80 patients diagnosed with LSC (aged 18-60 years), randomly assigned to receive either bee propolis 5% ointment or clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment for two weeks. Outcome measures were determined based on the intensity of pruritus measured by Visual Analog Scale (VAS), interference in daily activities measured by Activities of Daily Living (ADL), appearance of lesion measured by photographic assessment and lesion size. Adverse events were recorded and statistical analysis was done.

Results: The test ointment, bee propolis 5% ointment was classified as non-irritant and safe for clinical trial. Seventy-three out of 80 patients (91.25%) completed the trial. There were no significant differences in the mean VAS score (p = 0.86, 0.47, 0.14), mean ADL score (p = 0.68, 0.66, 0.31), mean PA score (p = 1.0, 0.52, 1.0) and mean lesion size (p = 0.595, 0.15, 0.05) between the two treatment groups from the baseline to day 7 and day 14. There was one adverse event of mild stinging sensation in the bee propolis group after one week of treatment, but no statistically significant adverse events (p = 0.5) were noted in both treatment groups.

Conclusion: Bee propolis 5% ointment was equally safe and effective as clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment in decreasing pruritus, improving activities of daily living, resolving lesions and decreasing lesion size in patients with LSC. It is therefore a good alternative to clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment in the treatment of LSC.


Ledesma, TG, Casal-Panis, EG, Senador, L, Dayrit, F. & Gabriel, MT (2017). A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial on the safety and efficacy of bee propolis 5% ointment versus clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment for lichen simplex chronicus. Journal of the Philippine Dermatological Society, 26(2), 30-35.



Lichen simplex chronicus, bee propolis, clobetasol propionate

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