Topical B12 cream may offer some patients natural alternative for treating AD

September 1, 2004

Topical vitamin B12 cream may offer some atopic dermatitis patients a natural alternative to corticosteroids and topical immunomodulators, according to a new study.

While such a cream is not yet approved for use in the United States, German researchers completed phase 3 studies of a vitamin B12 cream in an avocado preparation base.

Lead author Markus Stücker M.D., a dermatologist in the department of dermatology at Ruhr-University, Bochum, Germany, and colleagues did a prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled study with 49 atopic dermatitis patients who were not taking medications for the condition. Each patient received the active preparation on the affected areas applied to one side of the body and a placebo cream applied to the opposite side.

"We found a statistically significant difference between the active preparation and the placebo sides. And patients' and investigators' assessments of the active cream's efficacy were the same," he says. "In a direct comparison on the two body sides, there were more patients with good results on the active preparation side than on the placebo side."

They found good efficacy for the body side treated with the investigational drug for 27 patients (58 percent) versus 5 (11 percent) for the placebo side. Seventeen patients reported moderate efficacy (38 percent) on their active sides versus 39 patients on their placebo sides. Three patients found poor efficacy on the active sides of their bodies and three reported the same on the placebo side.

While the preparation is red-colored, Dr. Stücker says that is not a problem because it is quickly absorbed into the skin.

The authors report minor side effects associated with the cream. Forty-one of the original 49 patients completed the trial. Three dropped out because of noncompliance, one patient used a non-permitted medication, two patients did not reappear for follow-up and three experienced deterioration of the skin disease. Only two, according to Dr. Stücker dropped out because of the severity of side effects. One experienced burning, itching and swelling and the other, skin redness and swelling.

No link to acneThe researchers did not find any association between topical vitamin B12 and acne eruptions.

"In no single case could we find acne eruptions in these patients," he says. "We think that vitamin B12 is a possible therapeutic approach in the treatment of atopic dermatitis. It is a natural medication which might be highly accepted by the patient."

Dr. Stücker does not recommend vitamin B12 cream for severe atopic dermatitis.

Disclosure: Regeneratio Pharma AG, the Germany-based company that makes the cream, financed the research. Dr. Stücker has no other financial ties to the product.