Pruritus is defined as an unpleasant sensation that provokes the desire to scratch. Certain systemic diseases have long been known to cause pruritus that ranges in intensity from a mild annoyance to an intractable, disabling condition. Generalized pruritus may be classified into the following categories on the basis of the underlying causative disease: renal pruritus, cholestatic pruritus, hematologic pruritus, endocrine pruritus, pruritus related to malignancy, and idiopathic generalized pruritus.
Pruritus, or itch, is most commonly associated with a primary skin disorder such as xerosis, atopic dermatitis, drug eruption, urticaria, psoriasis, arthropod assault, mastocytosis, dermatitis herpetiformis, or pemphigoid. However, when a primary skin condition cannot be identified as the cause of pruritus, then a systemic or neuropathic cause must be sought
How is pruritus treated?
The cause and severity of the itching determine the course of treatment.
If a drug reaction is suspected, switching to a different medication may help reduce the pruritus. If the itching is due to an underlying condition, the condition must be treated. Examples of conditions causing pruritus include kidney, liver, or gallbladder problems and blood diseases.
At AARISH, we might suggest self-care treatments, such as:
- Skin creams and lotions that moisturize your skin, preventing dryness. These should be applied following a bath or shower, while the skin is still damp.
- Regular use of sunscreen to prevent skin damage and sunburns.
- Use of mild bath soap and laundry detergent that will not irritate your skin.
- Bathing in warm—not hot—water. This can relieve itching and avoid drying out your skin.
- Avoidance of certain fabrics, such as wool and synthetics, which can make your skin itch. Switch to cotton clothing and bed sheets.
- Keeping the thermostat in your house down and using a humidifier. Warm, dry air can make your skin dry.
- Placing a cool washcloth or some ice over the area that itches. This is can provide relief from itching and is less damaging than scratching.