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Pruritis - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Definition

Pruritis is a synonymous terms with pruritus and itching. It is the medical word for itch. It is defined as a sensation that provokes the desire to scratch. Itching can be a significant source of frustration and discomfort. When severe, it can lead to loss of sleep, anxiety, and depression. Constant scratching to obtain relief can damage the skin and reduce its effectiveness as a major protective barrier. Several common complaints such as allergies, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease may involve the skin around the anus causing pruritus. Haemorrhoids with associated mucous discharge may also be associated with this problem. It is a complex process. It involves nerves in the skin responding to certain chemicals such as histamine, and then processing these signals in the brain. Drinking certain beverages, including some alcoholic beverages especially beer milk, citrus fruit juices and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea and cola, may be aggravating for some people.

Causes

  1. The exact cause of an itch is unknown and is a complex process.
  2. The causes involve nerves in the skin responding to certain chemicals such as histamine, and then processing these signals in the brain.
  3. There are many skin diseases that have itching associated with a rash as a prominent symptom. Hives, chicken pox and eczema may cause pruritis.
  4. Persons who have had chemotherapy can lead to have pruritis. Usually the itching subsides within 30-90 minutes and does not require treatment.
  5. Persons who have had radiation therapy have higher risk of pruritis. Radiation can kill skin cells and cause burning and itching.
  6. It may be due to an autoimmune process or an injury. A genetic predisposition does not exist.

Symptoms

  1. Itch, a raw feeling and occasional bleeding, which are result of scratching, are the common symptoms.
  2. Discomfort during sexual intercourse, sometimes thin and white vaginal discharge.
  3. The intensity of itching increases with moisture, pressure, and sitting.
  4. At its most intense, anal itching causes intolerable discomfort described as burning and soreness.
  5. It causes inflammation in the moisture-secreting glands of the eyes and mouth, resulting in the decreased production of tears and saliva.
  6. Pruritis can cause intestinal problems, especially diarrhea and steatorrhea which is characterized by greasy, malodorous stools that result from faulty fat digestion.

Treatment

  1. First type of treatment is causative treatment. It involves finding the underlying disorder and then correcting it, thereby eliminating the itch sensation.
  2. Second type of treatment is symptomatic treatment. It involves substituting another sensation for the itch, using methods such as cooling, heating, or counter irritation. Symptomatic treatment can be used in addition to treating the underlying disease process in order to provide earlier relief.
  3. Avoid drinks, citrus fruits like foods or drinks that cause the allergic reaction to body.
  4. Antipruritic drug are generally used to reduce itching. These drugs are antihistamines or mint like substances such as menthol or camphor.
  5. Ensure the skin around the anus is dry by gently dabbing with soft tissues, towel or cotton wool or using a hair dryer.
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