Pruritus Symptoms, Causes & More

By shirley
Reviewed: dr. stavarache
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. 'Pruritus,'
  • 2. 'Pruritus (PDQ)–Patient Version.' National Cancer Institute,
  • 3. 'Itchy Skin (Pruritus).' Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 Jan. 2021,
  • 4. Staff, Editorial. 'Pruritus: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment.', 21 Sept. 2020,
  • 5. Itching (Pruritus) By Julia Benedetti, et al. 'Itching - Dermatologic Disorders.' Merck Manuals Professional Edition, Merck Manuals,
  • 6. 'Pruritus (Itchy Skin).' Cleveland Clinic,
  • 7. 'Itchy Skin (Pruritus).' Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 Jan. 2021,
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Pruritus or itching is an unpleasant feeling on the skin that makes a person want to scratch. Sometimes itching may feel painful. Pruritus may be localized to certain areas, or widespread itching may occur all over the body. In some cases, lesions may appear on the itchy areas of the skin, but sometimes no visible signs are evident.

Pruritus can last for varying amounts of time. Sometimes the itching is short-lived, but it may last for weeks. Pruritus that persists for six weeks or more is considered to be chronic. Itching can be debilitating, and it's sometimes a challenge to diagnose.1‘Pruritus,’,2‘Pruritus (PDQ)–Patient Version.’ National Cancer Institute,

Pruritus Symptoms

Skin that itches may appear perfectly normal aside from the fact that the person feels a persistent need to scratch it. But sometimes changes on the skin are evident, and these may provide clues as to the cause of the itching.

In some cases, the skin may appear dry and cracked or leathery and scaly. A rash, lesions, hives or blisters may be present. The itchy skin may be red, swollen and warm with possible oozing of fluid, indicating a possible infection. If the person has been scratching the area, scratch marks may be noticeable.3‘Itchy Skin (Pruritus).’ Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 6 Jan. 2021,,4Staff, Editorial. ‘Pruritus: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment.’, 21 Sept. 2020,


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