Oral Rinse Could Improve Mouth Pain Associated With Radiation Therapy

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Mouthwash containing diphenhydramine, lidocaine, and antacids found to significantly reduce pain from oral mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer administered chemotherapy.

An oral rinse containing diphenhydramine, lidocaine, and antacids, was found to significantly decrease pain caused by oral mucositis in patients undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancer compared with placebo, according to a study published in JAMA.

The multi-institution, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 clinical trial was led by Robert Miller, MD, an emeritus Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist.

"Our group published a study in 2012 showing that an oral rinse of doxepin reduced oral mucositis-related pain compared to placebo," Miller said in a press release. "However, there were no large randomized controlled trials studying the potential benefits of magic mouthwash."

The researchers evaluated 275 patients between November 2014 and May 2016. The study revealed that treatment with both doxepin and the mouthwash combination significantly reduced pain associated with oral mucositis compared with placebo.

The doxepin and mouthwash combination treatment was also well-tolerated by patients, according to the study.

"Radiation therapy may cause mouth sores because it is designed to kill rapidly growing cells, such as cancer cells," co-author, Terence Sio, MD, a Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist, said in a press release. "Unfortunately, healthy cells in your mouth also divide and grow rapidly, and may be damaged during radiation therapy, which can cause discomfort. We're glad to have identified a proven method to help treat the discomfort of this side effect."

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