Background: The stratum corneum is an almost impermeable barrier. Recently, microneedles have been used to increase drug delivery passing the stratum corneum by incorporating the drug within the microneedle or by coating the surface of the microneedle with the drug. Objective: This study was performed to investigate whether applying a biodegradable microneedle patch after topical steroid application increases penetration of the steroid in vitro, as well as treatment efficacy in patients with prurigo nodularis. Materials & methods: In vitro penetration of topical steroids after biodegradable microneedle patch application was measured using a 3D skin model. To evaluate the treatment efficacy of the combination of biodegradable microneedle and topical steroids, a split-body clinical study was performed. Results: Penetration of topical steroid in the in vitro skin model was significantly greater in the microneedle-applied skin. In a split-body clinical study with prurigo nodularis patients, the area and height of skin lesions decreased after four weeks of treatment on both sides, however, the microneedle patch side exhibited a significantly greater decrease in both area and height, compared to the control side. The pruritus visual analogue scale was also significantly lower on the microneedle side. Conclusion: We suggest that simply applying a microneedle patch after topical steroid application could be a useful strategy for treating refractory skin diseases such as prurigo nodularis.
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