Dermatologists and Skin Care

Itching - a Common Symptom of Skin Disorder

Written by
Dr. Suvash Sahu
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Jul 11, 2016 and last reviewed on Sep 07, 2018   -  2 min read

Abstract

Abstract

In this article, I have discussed various causes, types and management of itching.

Itching - a Common Symptom of Skin Disorder

Pruritus (itching) is the predominant symptom of inflammatory skin disease. It lacks precise definition and can best be defined indirectly as a sensation that leads to a desire to scratch.

Types of Itching:

  • Tickle sensation, which is a more akin to touch. It is very transient and easily relieved.
  • Physiological itch is a short-lived cutaneous response of sufficient intensity to provoke scratching, but not resulting in significant irritation of the skin.
  • Pathological itch occurs in a variety of primary and secondary skin disorders as well as in a number of systemic disorders resulting in intense cutaneous discomfort.
  • Alloknesis is a more persistent itching provoked by mechanical stimulation.

Causes of Generalized Pruritus:

1. Drug Ingestion:

Aspirin, Alcohol, Polymyxin, Morphine, Codeine, Scopolamine and D-tubocurarine.

2. Infestations:

Pediculosis corporis (skin disease from body lice), scabies, onchocerciasis (river blindness), ascariasis (small intestine infection) and ancylostomiasis (hookworm disease).

3. Malignancy:

Lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma and other rare cancer types.

4. Metabolic and Endocrine Conditions:

Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, chronic renal failure and obstructive biliary disease.

5. Pregnancy:

Itching can occur during pregnancy. If itching presents with a skin rash, then it is known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPP).

6. Psychogenic Pruritus:

Delusions of parasitosis. In this condition, the patient will have some false belief of parasitic infestation.

7. Hematologic Disorder:

Polycythemia vera, paraproteinemia and iron deficiency anemia.

Treatment:

The essential step to manage pruritus is to identify and treat the fundamental cause, either dermatological or systemic. Other helpful measures to get rid of itching are as follows.

  • Clothes and environment: Pruritus is temperature dependent. Wearing of light clothes, cool room temperature, use of light bedclothes and a cool shower before sleep, can alleviate pruritus.
  • Emollients: Pruritus due to dry skin, especially in the elderly can be relieved by the use of emollients like soft paraffin, moisturizing cream, oils, etc.
  • Antipruritics: There is no available effective and specific antipruritic drug. Role of sedative antihistamines to reduce itching in atopic skin is controversial.
  • Topical antihistamines and corticosteroids should not be used in the absence of visible signs of inflammation.
  • Topical Capsaicin has been found effective in limited disease.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants may be useful in some, especially the emotionally distressed patients.
  • Opioid receptor antagonists like Naloxone have shown some promise.
  • Specific therapies like parathyroidectomy and ultraviolet B (UVB) for cases of chronic renal failure and cholestyramine and UVB for pruritus secondary to liver disease have been found useful.

For furthermore intelligence information about itching, consult a dermatologist online --> https://www.icliniq.com/ask-a-doctor-online/dermatologist

Last reviewed at:
07 Sep 2018  -  2 min read

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