Pruritis (Itching) is a distinctive tingling or solicitous irritation of the skin that causes a desire to scratch the affected area. Pruritus can cause discommode and frustration; in severe cases it can lead to disturbed sleep, anxiety and depression. Many patients have had an itchy anus sometime or other. The skin around the anus is sensitive and difficult to keep clean. Pruritiscan lead to loss of sleep, disquiet, and depression. Suffering from pruritus can also mean lost sleep, that can lead in turn to irritability and slower mental functioning. Itching can be related with benign conditions like symptomatic hemorrhoids, anal fissures, anal fistulae and contact dermatitis.
Several chemical reactions occur in the skin wihch impel the nerves, causing the brain to feel the itch. The sensation of pruritus is transmitted by C fibers to the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and then to the cerebral cortex via the spinothalamic tract. It is a perturbing symptom that can cause discomfort. Scratching may cause breaks in the skin which may result in infection. Itching can be associated to anything from dry skin to undiagnosed cancer.
Pruritis can be all over (generalized) or only in a specific location (localized). There are many causes of itching, varying from the simple to the complex. Insect bites and stings can cause generalized itching and skin irritation. Pruritis ranges from urticaria which is related with wheals, flares, and reddening. However, both conditions present with itching or pruritis. Most frequently, prurutis is caused by foods that are eaten, vitamins, minerals and medications which are taken and creams, lotions, solutions and soaps that are applied.
Pruritus most usually is an unpleasing symptom of a clinically evident dermatologic condition. An itch from cutaneous ( skin-related) stimuli, such as movement of small hairs on the body, is passed along the same pathway as pain. An itch caused by histamine is transferred to the brain by a various neural pathway.
Pruritus can be a physiological sensitivity if the consecutive scratching removes a potentially harmful agent, or pathological, if related with skin and internal diseases, and psychic disorders, or caused by some drugs. Itching may arise with or without a rash or other changes in the skin.
Causes of Pruritis
The common causes and risk factor's of Pruritis involve the following:
- Psychological, which is, due to stress, anxiety, etc.
- A skin disorder or by a disease which affects the whole body (systemic disease).
- Dry skin.
- Exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
- Medication reactions.
- A fungal infection (tinea) can lead to itching between the toes (athlete's foot), in the groin (jock itch) or on the body (ringworm).
- Insect bites.
Symptoms of Pruritis
Some sign and symptoms associated to Pruritis are as follows:
- Swelling in your face or throat.
- A raw feeling and occasional bleeding.
- Shortness of breath.
Treatment of Pruritis
Here is list of the methods for treating Pruritis:
- Avoid rubbing with soap or applying antiseptics as this may increase irritation.
- Take lukewarm baths using little soap and rinsing thoroughly. Try a skin-soothing oatmeal or cornstarch bath.
- Regular use of emollients, particularly if skin is dry.
- Doxepin or amitriptyline: tricyclic antidepressants with effective antipruritic action. Tetracyclic antidepressants such as mirtazepine may help some patients with severe itch.
- Apply cold compresses to an itchy area.
- Try over-the-counter oral antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl), but be aware of possible side effects such as drowsiness.
- Itching from some conditions, such as poison ivy, may require high-strength corticosteroid creams.