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Pruritus Affects Many Patients With Chronic Skin Diseases

Pruritus is highly prevalent among patients with chronic skin dermatoses, with 9 of 10 patients reporting itch, according to the findings of a recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. The findings also showed the intensity of pruritus was high and linked to impairment in several areas of daily function, including work and sleep.

“Pruritus often accompanies chronic skin diseases, exerting considerable burden on many areas of patients’ functioning,” the researchers said. They investigated characteristics and burden of pruritus among 800 patients with active chronic skin dermatoses. Pruritus intensity, localization, and further characteristics were assessed in addition to quality of life, work productivity and activity impairment, anxiety, depression, and sleep quality.

The researchers found 9 of every 10 patients experienced pruritus through their disease, and 73% reported experiencing itch within the previous 7 days. In addition, itch was not restricted to skin lesions, but often affected the entire body.

Furthermore, patients with moderate to severe itch reported significantly more impairment in their sleep quality and work productivity and were more depressed and anxious compared with patients with mild or no pruritus and controls.

Patients with chronic pruritus and atopic dermatitis had a high prevalence of suicidal ideations (18.5% and 11.8%, respectively), the researchers added.

“Effective treatment strategies are urgently required to treat pruritus and the underlying skin disease,” they concluded.


Hawro T, Przybyłowicz K, Spindler M, et al. The characteristics and impact of pruritus in adult dermatologic patients: A prospective, cross-sectional study. J Am Acad Dermatol. Published online August 13, 2020. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2020.08.035

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