Often the cause of itchy skin is not known or is unclear as itching is characterisitc of many skin conditions & systemic diseases.
Pruritus may be generalized (that may involve large areas of the body) or localized (restricted to a specific area).
Generalized Pruritus also indicates ‘itching’ that cannot be readily associated with a detectable primary skin condition such as Eczema. Secondary features often involve severe excoriation (bloody scratches) that affect all sites except for the mid-back as this area cannot be reached by the patient. This pattern is called the ‘butterfly’ sign. Most patients generally appear to have fine, dry and scaly skin and the itching usually responds well to the application of emollients.
Approximately half of the patients who suffer from Pruritus may have some underlying systemic disease e.g. uremia, lymphomas, leukemias, iron deficiency and pregnancy etc. Other causes may be due to parasitic or fungal infestations, taking or cessation of drugs and psychological factors.
Localized Pruritus is usually caused by skin friction either against close fitting clothing or skin to skin. Other causes may be fungal or parasitic infestations.
- more common in adults, especially the elderly.
- no primary rash is usually evident.
- most rashes are usually secondary due to scratching.
- itching is usually worse at night.
- secondary lesions e.g. scratch marks, crusts, ‘eczematoid’ type lesions or lichenification may occur as the direct result of scratching.
- systemic causes vary from patient to patient.
- some patients will have no obvious underlying abnormalities.
- psychological factors e.g. depression, anxiety or stress can trigger or aggravate the condition.
Prurigo is a general term applied to a range of unconnected itchy skin condiitions involving excoration of the skin accompanied by thickening of the skin or the development of nodules as a result of scratching.
The onset of Prurigo is usually gradual and mainly involves the arms and leags and occassionaly the back. The skin lesions present as pale red papules that develop into hemispherical nodules. The nodules may be few and widely spaced or numerous. Often they appear in a linear formation following the lines of repeated scratching. This condition is often chronic.
- is usually seen in middle-aged women.
- discrete nodules, 5-30mm in diameter, most commonly present on the extensor aspects of the limbs due to scratching.
- the original cause of the scratching is often uncertain, however, some patients may have a background skin condition such as eczema or chronic pruritis.
- it is often considered to be a ‘nodular’ form of Lichen simplex.
GENERALIZED PRURITUS (itching)
In some cases there will be no diagnostic underlying cause for the generalized itch, however, in 50% of cases an underlying cause will be found and a more specific treatment then used to treat the condition.
The intensity of the itch can vary dramatically and is usually worse at night or after bathing or sweating. For the sufferer of generalized itching, their life can be totally dominated by the annoying condition. Sleepless nights and permanent fatigue can affect work and personal relationships.
There are many factors that affect the severity of the itch including:-
- Stress and other psychological conditions such as fear or even boredom (lack of distraction)
In many cases it is the repetitive act of scratching which induces the “itching” feeling and with the continual scratching it becomes a vicious cycle.
There are many causes of Pruritus, however it is usually caused by either a dermatological condition or as a secondary symptom of a systemic disease. The Pruritus can either be localized or widespread.
Localized Pruritus is usually caused by either a dermatosis (skin condition) or as a result of infection of a particular area:-
- Scalp – Seborrhoeic Dermatitis/Eczema, Psoriasis
- Eyelids – Contact Dermatitis
- Hands – Contact Dermatitis/eczema, psoriasis, fungal infections
- Legs – Dermatitis/eczema, psoriasis
- Genitals – Dermatitis/eczema, fungal infections, psoriasis
- Feet – Dermatitis/eczema, fungal infections, psoriasis
Systemic causes of Pruritus include renal disease, endocrine disorders, hepatic diseases, dehydration and psychological disorders.
Scabies (mite) infection, HIV infection, Pediculosis (lice) infection and fungal infections may also present with generalized itching.
Clear up Itch:
Our protocols for the treatment of Pruritus, Prurigo and general itch are based on clearing up symptoms using dietary advice and through the use of naturally-based topical and oral medicines such as ointments, creams, gels, lotions etc as well as targetted oral medicines, under the brand names of Dr Michaels and Seloderma, as well as some other brands, which assist in breaking the cycle from within.
Address the internal causative factors with respect to nutrients lacking in your diet, or metabolically blocked by your body, by seeing a Skin Professional who can assess which nutrients are lacking in your diet and which ones your body is blocking.