What is Pruritus (Itchy Skin)?
Pruritus is a sensation that makes a person wants to scratch. In severe cases, it can lead to sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. It is a complex process involving nerves that respond to certain chemicals like histamine that are released in the skin, and the processing of nerve signals in the brain. Pruritus can be a part of skin diseases, internal disorders, or due to faulty processing of the itch sensation within the nervous system.
In what all skin conditions itching is experienced?
- Urticaria (hives)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
- Eczema – Dry skin
- Some parasitic infestations such as scabies and lice may be very itchy.
- Fungal infections of skin/hair
- Itchy pigmented moles may be a sign of a malignant change.
- People with seasonal allergies, asthma, hay fever, etc
- Liver disease like hepatitis, kidney problems
- Thyroid disease including both hyper (too much) and hypo (too little) thyroid hormone levels
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Polycythemia vera
- Multiple myeloma
- Neurologic conditions such as post herpetic neuralgia
- People with HIV/ AIDS and different types of Cancer
- How is pruritus treated?
To determine the cause of the itch, a blood test, skin scraping, or biopsy may be needed to help make the diagnosis. If the itch is due to a skin disease such as hives or eczema, treatment of the skin disease, with prescription topical medications and/or oral antihistamines generally relieves the itch. If the itch is secondary to an internal disease, patients may require treatment of the disease, oral medication, or occasionally ultraviolet light therapy to relieve the itch.
A cooling topical lotion or cream and/or an oral medication may relieve the itch. While a specific identifying cause for the itch may not be found, an appropriate work-up to exclude internal disease should be completed.
Although there are many causes for pruritus, some basic steps are required to be followed in order to protect your skin:
- Lukewarm water bath
- Use mild cleansers with low pH.
- Immediately apply a moisturizing lotion or cream after bathing.
- Regular usage of sunscreen so as to prevent sunburns and skin damage.
- Wear light, loose clothing.
- A cool oatmeal bath or topical drying agents such as calamine lotion can be helpful in eczematous conditions
- Since warm, dry air can make skin dry, keep the thermostat in your house down and use a humidifier.
- To relieve itching, place a cool washcloth or some ice over the area that itches, rather than scratching.
What would be the estimated treatment cost?
Treatment for pruritus varies depending on the cause. Treatment requires administering antihistaminics, topical steroids that help to relieve itching. Your Skin Specialist would choose the treatment that is best suited for you. In general, a single consultation with Dr. Rinky Kapoor is chargeable at INR 1000/-.
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About Dr. Rinky Kapoor
Dr. Rinky Kapoor, Co-founder of The Esthetic Clinic, is one of the best dermatologists in the world & currently practices in Mumbai, India. Dr. Rinky Kapoor is a Consultant Cosmetic Dermatologist, Cosmetologist & Trichologist at S L Raheja Fortis Hospital, Mumbai, India. Dr. Kapoor is trained at the National Skin Centre, Singapore & at Stanford University, USA. A celebrity skin doctor, Dr. Rinky Kapoor has won many honors such as “Best Dermatologist Mumbai”, “Top 10 Cosmetologist India”, etc for her evidence based expert dermatology care, affordable & reliable skin care, hair care & nail care …Read more
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