Brush Up On Your Pruritus Knowledge


Read here the causes, symptoms and prevention of pruritus.

What is Pruritus?

Pruritus is characterized by extremely dry skin accompanied with severe itch. It is associated with the skin disorders like dry skin, allergy, eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies, skin diseases and even cancer. This condition prompts you to scratch.

How to Tell If You Have Pruritus?

Dry and itchy skin is the key sign of pruritus. The extreme dryness leads to the damaging of the skin. The other symptoms are blisters, rashes, bumps, flakes and lesions.

What Leads to Pruritus?

  • Dry skin

Dry skin is one of the key causes of pruritus and is caused by hot/cold weather, prolonged sitting in AC or in heating, taking excessive washing and bathing. All these factors affect the moisture level of the skin, thereby making it vulnerable to the dry, which in turn cause itching.

  • Skin conditions and rashes

Itching is a common sign in like eczema, scabies, hives and psoriasis. Continuous itching makes skin prone to the red bumps and blisters.

  • Internal diseases

Several diseases like kidney failure, anemia, thyroid and cancers can be the causes behind the dry and itching skin conditions.

  • Nerve disorders

Pruritus is sometimes associated with the problems in nervous systems like multiple sclerosis, pinched nerves and shingles.


People prone to allergies are likely to develop dry skin and itching. For example, you experience intense itching after coming into the contact of cosmetics or insect bites. Food allergies can be taken into this account.

Medication Reactions:

In most of the cases, the dry skin occurs from the reactions to the drugs, like antifungal, pain killers, and antifungal drugs, which cause itching and rashes.


Pregnancy may make some women to go through the intense skin itching.

Where It Does Occur?

It occurs on the dry skin areas like the lower legs, thighs, breast, arms and hands.

How Pruritus Can Affect the Skin?

Prolonged itch often leads to  medical complications like…

  • Skin injury
  • Infection
  • Scarring

When to See a Doctor?

It all depends on how long the sign last and how severe they become. Generally, it is recommended if you are feeling pain and extreme discomfort due to the itching. You can ask your doctor about the causes, symptoms, medication, and healing process of the treatment.

What Should You Tell Your Doctor?

  • When did you start experiencing symptoms?
  • How was your skin when your symptoms started?
  • Have your signs changed?
  • Which home remedies have you tried?
  • What OTC medications are you taking?
  • Have you traveled recently?
  • What is your diet?
  • Do you have pets? Or you come into contact with irritants like chemicals or metals?

How a Physician Diagnose Pruritus?

A doctor examines your skin condition by physical observance and a careful study, which may take time. He can order several test to confirm your medical condition which may include blood-test, chemistry profile, thyroid test and chest x-rays.

How a Physician Treat Pruritus?

After detecting the cause, a doctor may prescribe several topical ointments for treating pruritus:

  • Corticosteroid Creams for treating itching
  • Calcineurin if the itching area is minor
  • Anti-allergy medicine
  • Antidepressants like sertraline and fluoxetine to relieve from various types of itching.

What Precautions Should I Follow?

  • Use skin creams and lotions to keep your skin moisturized and minimize the dryness.
  • Avoid alcohol or scented soaps
  • Avoid hot water for bathing
  • Minimize the use of fabrics like wool and synthetics, that cause skin itching. Instead, use cotton outfits and bedding.
  • Use thermostat in your home and use the humidifier.
  • To ease the itching, apply ice cube over the area, rather than scratching.

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