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Feature Article

Pruritus: understanding the causes, soothing the itch

Ian D Hamann

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Abstract

A careful structured approach to the diagnosis and management of pruritus, with simple intensive topical treatment regimens at least initially, helps patients with pruritus.

Key Points

  • Pruritus is extremely debilitating and prompt management is essential.
  • A phone call to a dermatologist regarding a desperate patient should ensure prompt review.
  • Dry, sun-damaged skin is itchy and avoiding soap and moisturiser and overheating will help all patients with pruritus.
  • A careful history and examination is essential.
  • Investigations are only indicated if the diagnosis is not obvious or simple treatments fail.
  • Printed patient information and treatment instruction sheets are essential.

    Picture credit: © Jacopin/BSIP/SPL

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