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Accelerating effects of epidermal growth factor on skin lesions of pemphigus vulgaris: a double-blind, randomized, controlled trial.

BACKGROUND: Pemphigus vulgaris (PV) is a severe blistering disease involving the skin and mucous membranes. The most common causes of death in these patients are adverse effects of drugs, and infection. Skin lesions are one of the important sources of infection. Thus, any local treatment that could reduce healing time of lesions and consequently reduce the total dosage of drugs needed to treat is favourable.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of epidermal growth factor (EGF) in reducing healing time of lesions in patients with pemphigus vulgaris.

METHODS: In this randomized, double-blind, within-patient, left/right, controlled trial, 20 hospitalized patients with pathologial and immunohistologial (direct and indirect immunoflourecence) proven pemphigus vulgaris (PV) were chosen. In addition, all patients had at least one appropriate pemphigus lesion on each side of the body that had not healed after 2-week systemic therapy and sterile saline washing. EGF (10 microg/g) in 0.1% silver sulfadiazine cream vs. 0.1% silver sulfadiazine cream alone was applied randomly on one side of the body.

RESULTS: Kaplan-Meier survival analysis suggested that median time to heal with application of EGF plus silver sulfadiazine cream was 9 days, in comparison with 15 days for silver sulfadiazine cream alone (log-rank test, P=0.0003). No intervention-related adverse effect was observed during the study.

CONCLUSIONS: EGF can significantly reduce healing time of skin lesions in patients with pemphigus vulgaris, at least when this cream base is applied (Cochrane skin group identifier: CSG20).

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