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Pruritis (itching): Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About pruritis (itching)

Pruritis is the medical term used for itching. The affected individual feels an irresistible desire to itch and may continue to itch till the skin becomes sore. This condition commonly affects individuals with dry skin. Skin in the areas of the anal region, the vulva or the scalp, is most prone to pruritis.

Pruritis (itching): Incidence, age and sex

The incidence of pruritis depends upon the causative disorders. It may affect an individual of any age, including children, adults and the elderly.

Signs and symptoms of pruritis (itching): Diagnosis

The primary clinical features of pruritis include increased irritation of the skin. It may affect any part of the skin; however it most commonly affects the skin of the scalp, the anal region and the vulva. The affected individual experiences an uncontrollable desire to itch, leading to excessive scratching.

Its diagnosis is established by examination on the part of an experienced physician. A detailed history, physical examination and investigation help to find the cause of pruritis.

Causes and prevention of pruritis (itching)

Pruritis is associated with many disorders like allergies, underlying systemic disease or drug reaction. Certain skin conditions like psoriasis, scabies, lice, chicken pox may result in pruritis. Such pruritis may also be associated with redness and swelling of the skin. Systemic diseases like diabetes, thyroid disorders, kidney failure, anaemia or leukaemia may also result in skin itching. Pruritis may also result due to exposure to certain cosmetic products including lotions or soaps.

Prevention can be done once the underlying cause is known. The exposure to the causative factor is avoided and the pruritis can be prevented.

Pruritis (itching): Complications

Pruritis may have distressing personal and social implications. The individual may be affected due to cosmetic reasons. The affected individual may not be able to socialize due to affected skin appearance. The skin may develop neurodermatitis due to continuous scratching.

Pruritis (itching): Treatment

Pruritis can be treated symptomatically by certain medications. However it is essential to detect and treat the underlying cause to eliminate pruritis completely. Medications like antihistamines, local anaesthetics like lidocaine or benzocaine can give temporary relief of symptoms. Phototherapy to the affected skin has also been effective in treating pruritis.