Pruritus

Learn about pruritus, also called itching.

Pruritus

Pruritus is a medical term that refers to a sensation that leads someone to scratch. It is more commonly known as an itch. Many other symptoms can appear along with this, depending somewhat on what has caused the itching to occur.

Causes

A variety of medical conditions and situations can cause a person to have pruritus. On one end there are very serious medical issues, while on the other side there are things which are quickly passing and not dangerous. Below, you can read about some of the possible reasons that a person might itch.

Athlete's foot
Chickenpox
Cholestasis
Cirrhosis
Dandruff
Diabetes
Dry skin
Eczema
Gestational pemphigoid
Herpes simplex
Herpes zoster
Hidradenitis suppurativa
Hodgkin's lymphoma
Hyperparathyroidism
Insect bites
Iron deficiency anemia
Jaundice
Lyme disease
Melanoma
Menopause
Mole
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Pimple
Polycythemia
Psoriasis
Pubic lice
Scabies
Sunburn
Thyroid disease
Uremia
Urticaria (hives)

Are you not seeing the cause that you were looking to find? It's possible that we may still have it on a separate page. View a longer list of medical causes of pruritus.


Diagnosis

In some cases, what is causing the pruritus may seem obvious. For instance, if someone gets a mosquito bite, it is expected that the area will itch. However, please keep in mind that the details you read on this website aren't meant to replace the professional advice that comes from a doctor. If you are looking for a diagnosis, then please talk with a qualified person who has the information and tools necessary to try to diagnose the underlying medical reason for your pruritus. Depending on factors such as what the suspected cause might be, diagnostic methods may vary.

Treatment

The method of treatment used also may be different for reasons such as what led to the itching, especially for management of the underlying condition itself, if that is necessary. For instance, someone with iron deficiency anemia would not receive the same method of treatment as someone with athlete's foot would. In terms of relief for the pruritus itself, there are different medications, some of which can be purchased over-the-counter. Certain herbal medicines may also be useful. Other methods, like raising or lowering the temperature of the area, might be of benefit. In some cases, scratching provides relief, however it may cause the pruritus to grow worse, or even harm the area that is scratched.