What is Pruritus?

Pruritus, also known as itching, is a sensation that causes an intense urge to scratch the skin. It is one of the most common skin problems and can be a sign of many skin diseases. Pruritus can also be caused by a wide range of medical conditions.

Causes of Pruritus

Pruritus can be caused by a number of different conditions, including:

  • Skin Diseases, including eczema, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, scabies, and fungal infections
  • Infections, including HIV, hepatitis, Lyme disease, shingles, and fungal infections
  • Cancer, including lymphoma and leukemia
  • Allergies, including reactions to certain foods, drugs, venom, and environmental allergens
  • Kidney, liver, and thyroid disorders
  • Inflammation and irritation, due to abrasion, sunburn, insect bites, and skin rubbing

Treating Pruritus

Treatment for pruritus is usually focused on treating the underlying condition or finding ways to relieve pain and itching. In some cases, a topical cream or antihistamine may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and itching. In more severe cases, medications such as systemic corticosteroids, nerve drugs, antidepressants, or immunosuppressants may be prescribed. In addition, lifestyle modifications, such as avoiding scratching the affected area, using cold compresses, and applying soothing lotions, may help to reduce itching and discomfort.