Effect of topically applied menthol on thermal, pain and itch sensations and biophysical properties of the skin
- 532 Downloads
The effect of menthol and alcohol as its vehicle on thermal sensations, pain, experimental itch and irritation were studied in 18 subjects, using a computerized thermal sensory analyzer, laser Doppler flowmetry and an evaporimeter for transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Menthol had a subjective cooling effect lasting up to 70 min in 12/18 subjects; however, it did not affect cold and heat threshold, nor did it affect cold and heat pain threshold. Alcohol produced an immediate cold sensation lasting up to 5 min in 4/18 subjects and lowered the sensitivity of cold sensation threshold (P<0.05). Histamine injection did not change thermal and pain thresholds. Menthol did not alleviate histamine-induced itch magnitude, nor its duration. Following histamine injection, cold sensation median threshold decreased by 1.2°C from (29.9°C to 28.7°C) on the site treated with menthol (P<0.01) with similar changes in thresholds at the alcohol-treated site (P<0.05). Warm sensation and pain threshold in subjects receiving histamine injections, measured after menthol and alcohol application, did not differ from their baseline values with histamine alone. TEWL at the site treated with menthol was significantly higher (P<0.05) than at the alcohol-treated and the control site (P<0.01), suggesting that menthol has a higher skin irritating effect, or at least alters the stratum corneum water permeability. Our results suggest that menthol fulfills the definition of a counterirritant, but does not affect histamine-induced itch, nor does it affect pain sensation.
Key wordsThermal thresholds Itch sensation Transepidermal water loss Laser Doppler flowmetry
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 3.Polano MK (1984) Non corticosteroid specific drugs. In: Polano MK (ed) Topical skin therapeutics: Churchill Livingstone. London, pp 50–97Google Scholar
- 4.Yarnitsky D, Fowler CJ (1994) Quantitative sensory testing. In: Osselton JW (ed) Manual of clinical neurophysiology. Butter-worth, London, pp 253–291Google Scholar
- 5.Pinnagoda J (1994) Standardization of measurements. In: Elsner P, Berardesca E, Maibach HI (eds) Bioengineering of the skin water and the stratum corneum. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 59–64Google Scholar
- 6.Macht DI (1939) Comparative pharmacology of menthol and its isomers. Arch Int Pharmacodyn Ther 63:43–58Google Scholar
- 11.Dyck JP, Karnes J, O'Brien C, Zimmerman IR (1993) Detection thresholds of cutaneous sensation in humans. In: Dyck JP (ed) Peripheral neuropathies, 3rd edn. Saunders, pp 706–722Google Scholar
- 12.Yosipovitch G, Yarnitsky D (1996) Quantitative sensory testing. In: Marzulli FN, Maibach HI (eds) Dermatoxicology, part 2, 5th edn. Hemisphere Publishing, Washington DCGoogle Scholar