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Definition

Pruritus is an itch which makes a person wants to scratch. It is defined as an unpleasant sensation that provokes a desire to scratch. Scratching can be considered physiologically appropriate only when it helps to remove the noxious stimulus from the skin, such as in parasitosis. In most other circumstances, it causes a great deal of discomfort and distress to the person. Pruritus may be a manifestation of an internal condition. The most common example is kidney failure.

Causes

Persons who have had radiation therapy can cause. Radiation can kill skin cells and cause burning and itching. As the skin peels off, scratching can damage it further, which creates the potential for infection. Treatment may need to be interrupted to allow the skin time to heal.

Symptoms of Pruritis

Symptoms of this illness generalized itching, without rash or skin lesions. it may be related to anything from dry skin to an occult carcinoma, and the etiology of the symptoms should be explored. Common nonmalignant etiologic factors include drug reactions, xerosis, scabies, or primary skin diseases. Chronic itch triggers psychic responses but the psyche can also influence itch. Pruritus may present a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge to the clinician, a dermatologist, family physician, internist, pediatrician or psychiatrist. Some point in the patient's history can be helpful.

Treatment of Pruritis

Severe pruritus is relatively uncommon in clinical practice, but can be a most distressing complaint for the patient. There are some general principles for all cases:

  • Keep cool, especially at night time
  • Wear loose fitting underwear and outer clothing
  • Avoid nylon pantihose
  • Wash once or twice daily with lukewarm water alone or use a soap-free cleanser instead of conventional soap
  • Avoid scratching or rubbing the affected area
  • Avoid riding bicycles or horses
  • Insert tampons with care, and change sanitary pads frequently
  • Do not apply strong steroid creams for more than a few days.

Topical treatment may include:

  • Calamine lotion: avoid on dry skin and limit use to a few days
  • Menthol/camphor lotion: gives a chilling sensation
  • Regular use of emollients, especially if skin is dry
  • Mild topical corticosteroids for short periods

Intradermal injection of a stable met-enkephalin analogue in a concentration which by itself was subthreshold for itching, potentiated histamine-evoked itching.
Mild soaps contain less soap or detergent that can irritate skin. Oil can be added to the water at the end of a bath or applied to the skin before drying.

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