Itch (Itching or Pruritus)
Table of Contents
- Itch facts
- What is an itch?
- What are associated symptoms and signs of itching (pruritus)?
- What causes itching?
- What causes itching? (Continued)
- How do health care professionals diagnose itching?
- What types of health care specialists treat itching?
- Should people scratch the itch?
- What are topical itch treatments? Are there any home remedies for itching?
- What are topical itch treatments? Are there any home remedies for itching? (Continued)
- What are oral medications that treat itch?
- Is it possible to prevent itching?
- When should the doctor be consulted for itching (pruritus)?
- What are possible complications of itching?
- What is the prognosis (outlook) for itching?
What is an itch?
Itch is an irritation in the skin that elicits an urge to scratch. Itches are a problem that everyone experiences, and the symptom can be localized (limited to one area of the body) or generalized (occurring all over the body or in several different areas). Sometimes, depending upon the underlying cause, itching may be worse at night. In medical terminology, itching is known as pruritus.
Generalized itch that occurs all over the body is often more difficult to treat than localized itch. Itches can also occur with or without skin lesions (bumps, blisters, rash, redness, or abnormalities that can be seen on the skin). An itch that is accompanied by a visible skin abnormality should be evaluated by a physician and, in some cases, by a dermatologist since the problem is likely to be a condition that requires specialized medical treatment (for example, eczema, scabies, etc.).