Pruritus/itch is a sensation in the skin that provokes the desire to scratch. Pruritus can be acute or chronic (starting from 6 weeks duration).
Acute pruritus is always a warning signal from the body. By scratching, foreign bodies on the skin such as insects or plant components are quickly removed. After that the pruritus is gone.
If the pruritus lasts longer than six weeks, one speaks of chronic pruritus. Chronic pruritus is a painful symptom, which can have different causes. Chronic renal failure, cholestatic liver disease, neurological diseases, infectious diseases, metabolic and endocrine diseases as well as atopic dermatitis for example can be the cause of constant pruritus. Also drugs can produce pruritus. Constant pruritus is extremely stressful for the affected person and often difficult to treat. In about half of the cases of chronic pruritus, the doctor cannot find a clear cause. Therefore the therapy is often difficult. Often different medical disciplines are consulted to find the suitable therapy for the patient.