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Having an itchy skin that makes you keep scratching that area and makes you feel uncomfortable is called pruritis. This is a symptom that is associated with a number of conditions ranging from seasonal allergies and rashes to serious underlying systemic diseases like liver or kidney failure.

Symptoms Of Pruritis

The area of the skin that itches can vary in size and location. Any part of the body can be involved and in fact this itch may spread to different parts of the body over the course of a few hours as well. The affected area may become dry and scaly to touch and be visibly different from the surrounding region of the skin.

Some people may get relief from itching an affected area, while others may have an even greater urge to itch. The latter one is dangerous as continuously scratching the skin can cause damage to the area.

People Prone To Developing Pruritus

Some subsets of people are more likely to develop pruritis than others due to changes in their hormone levels or due to an altered immune response. These include:

  • Diabetics
  • People who are prone to developing allergies
  • Pregnant women
  • People with immunity debilitating disease like HIV
  • People in their seventh decade of life and onwards

Some common causes of Pruritis are:

  1. Dryness of the skin
  2. Other skin conditions like dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, hives or lice.
  3. Celiac disease
  4. Anemia
  5. Kidney failure
  6. Liver failure
  7. Cancer
  8. Multiple sclerosis
  9. Diabetes
  10. Allergic reaction
While all these conditions may have different pathophysiologies, researchers are trying to look for a common link between these seemingly disparate group of diseases which is responsible for pruritis. Alteration of micro-vasculature is something that has gained popularity in recent times.

Treatment  

The treatment of pruritis involves first identifying the underlying cause of the pruritis and then treating that. Removing any offending medication, a visit to the allergist for identification of potential allergens and an examination of the underlying systemic health are all some of the things that will have to done in an attempt to isolate the cause of pruritis.

Symptomatic treatment for pruritis is provided by the use of anti-histamine drugs along with the use of topical steroids and antibiotics. Systemic steroids are almost never recommended for the treatment of pruritis unless the underlying systemic condition demands its use.

Skin Care To Prevent Pruritis  

Keeping the skin moisturized and free from dryness will help you prevent the development of pruritis. Make sure that you apply sunscreen of a sufficient SPF level before stepping out since sensitive skin can get damaged by the UV rays of the sun very quickly. Any cosmetics or bath products that you use should be tested hypoallergenic. Taking bath in extremely cold or hot water should be avoided, instead try to use lukewarm water for bathing. Using a humidifier in the house is a good idea, especially if you are living in dry and arid conditions.

If you do have a breakout of pruritis then it is inadvisable to scratch that area as that could lead to permanent scarring. The best method is to apply a soothing ointment or place a moist soft cloth over the area to help you get some relief.

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