Pruritus

Other names: Itchy skin

DEFINITION

Itchy skin, also known as Pruritus, is an uncomfortable sensation that triggers the urge to scratch. It can be caused by various conditions such as Psoriasis, Dermatitis, Liver disease, or kidney failure. Treatment involves identifying and addressing the underlying cause.

SYMPTOMS

Itchy skin may present as localized or generalized itching with accompanying redness, bumps, dryness, or a scaly texture. Prolonged scratching can lead to skin damage or infection.

CAUSES

Causes of itchy skin include dry skin, skin conditions like Eczema or Psoriasis, internal diseases such as Liver disease or kidney failure, nerve disorders, allergic reactions, drug reactions, and pregnancy-related conditions.

COMPLICATIONS

Continued itching and scratching can result in skin injury, infection, or scarring.

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Before your appointment with a doctor or dermatologist, document your symptoms and medications. Prepare questions regarding the potential causes of your itching and the best course of action for treatment.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Diagnosing the cause of itching may involve blood tests, chemistry profiles, thyroid function tests, and chest X-rays to identify underlying medical conditions.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

Treatment options for itchy skin include medicated creams like corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors, oral antihistamines, antidepressants, addressing underlying diseases, and light therapy (phototherapy).

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Self-care measures for temporary relief of itching include moisturizing creams, anti-itch lotions, avoiding scratching, applying cool compresses, taking lukewarm baths with soothing additives like oatmeal, wearing soft cotton clothing, using mild soaps and detergents, avoiding irritants and allergens, and managing stress through relaxation techniques.


QUESTIONS

  1. What are the common causes of itchy skin?

Dry skin, skin conditions like Eczema or Psoriasis, internal diseases such as Liver disease or kidney failure.

  1. When should I see a doctor for itchy skin?

If the itching lasts more than two weeks without improvement or is severe enough to disrupt daily activities.

  1. How can I prepare for a doctor's appointment regarding itchy skin?

Document your symptoms and medications and prepare questions about potential causes and treatment options.

  1. Can stress worsen itching?

Yes, stress can exacerbate itching. Managing stress through relaxation techniques may help alleviate symptoms.

  1. What are some self-care measures for relieving itchy skin?

Using moisturizing creams, applying cool compresses, taking soothing baths with oatmeal additives, wearing soft clothing fabrics like cotton.

  1. Are there specific tests to diagnose the cause of itchy skin?

Blood tests for internal conditions causing itchiness and imaging studies like chest X-rays may be performed.

  1. Can certain medications worsen itching?

Yes, reactions to drugs like antibiotics or narcotic pain medications can cause widespread rashes and itching.

  1. How does light therapy help in treating itchy skin?

Light therapy exposes the skin to specific wavelengths of ultraviolet light to control itching over multiple sessions.

  1. What complications can arise from prolonged itching and scratching?

Skin injury, infection, and scarring are potential complications of continuous scratching.

  1. Are there alternative treatments besides medication for itchy skin?

Yes, lifestyle changes like using gentle skincare products, avoiding irritants/allergens, managing stress can complement medical treatments for itchy skin.