Pruritus is an itchy feeling that can cover all or part of a person’s body. Itching can be accompanied by a rash. Itching can occur briefly but it can also be severe to the point of irritating the sufferer.
Itching in some parts of the body generally only appears in certain areas, such as hands or feet. In addition to the rash, itching can also form a reddish lump, cracked dry skin, and texture that resembles calluses or scales.
Causes of Pruritus
Pruritus can be caused by mild skin disorders, such as skin that is too dry, insect bites, until it is caused by systemic disorders such as diabetes mellitus.
The cause of pruritus is divided into:
Some skin disorders that can affect skin conditions and cause itching, including eczema, urticaria or biduran, allergic contact dermatitis, psoriasis, folliculitis, dandruff, prurigo, and inflammation of the oral mucosa or lichen planus.
Allergic reactions to the skin
Objects such as jewelry containing nickel or cobalt can trigger an itchy allergic reaction on the skin. Rubber, latex, textile materials, fragrances, hair paint, plants such as pollen can trigger pruritus. Likewise with drugs, such as aspirin, excessive exposure to ultraviolet light and damp or hot weather.
Stings or bites of insects and parasites
Parasites such as head lice, pinworms, moths, fleas, mosquitoes, bees, wasps, bedbugs, and trichomoniasis parasites that cause sexually transmitted diseases can also trigger pruritus.
In some diseases, pruritus is a symptom that indicates infection in the affected part of the body. Diseases caused by ringworm infection can have symptoms of itching, as well as chickenpox. Fungal infections of the feet or water fleas, fungal infections of the vaginal or penile area can also cause pruritus.
Pregnancy and menopause
Hormonal imbalances experienced by women who are pregnant or entering menopause can be a cause of pruritus. In pregnant women, pruritus generally disappears after labor. Some conditions for pruritic triggers in pregnant women include pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP) which generally appear in the thigh and abdomen area, prurigo gestationis which commonly occurs in the areas of the hands, feet and torso, and obstetric cholestasis that causes itching without rash as a result of abnormalities that affect the patient’s heart.
Pruritus is also a symptom of diseases, such as hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, hemorrhoids, polycythemia, and anemia as a result of iron deficiency, hepatitis, chronic renal failure, primary biliary cirrhosis or bile duct inflammation, and certain types of cancer. Psychological conditions, such as anxiety or depression, can also trigger pruritus.
Symptoms of Pruritus
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, pruritus lasting more than two weeks should be consulted by a doctor immediately to get a diagnosis and further treatment. Some other symptoms to watch out for are if pruritus does not heal after going through independent treatment at home, appearing throughout the body, and has disrupted daily activities. Disruptive pruritus can cause injury and infection to the skin. Prolonged pruritus can also have more intense itching intensity.
Pruritus diagnosis is done to find out whether the cause of itching is a result of a skin disorder or is a symptom of another disease. Possible checks can take the form of checking the patient’s medical history, physical tests, and laboratory tests, such as:
- Thyroid gland function tests to determine thyroid level.
- Kidney and electrolyte function tests.
- Blood tests to determine levels of sugar, iron, red blood cells, and white blood cells and eosinophil white blood cells, and in the blood.
- The series of tests performed are complete blood tests, blood sedimentation rates, and tests of serum ferritin levels.
- Fasting blood sugar test, is done to determine glucose levels after fasting overnight.
- Liver function tests.
- Tests for phosphate levels, alkaline phosphatase or enzymes on the bones and liver, and calcium.
Pruritus treatment measures are taken based on the results of the doctor’s test and diagnosis. If the itching experienced by the patient is a symptom of another disease, then the treatment carried out will refer to the handling of the disease. Some treatment recommendations can also be applied to reduce the symptoms of pruritus, both caused by systemic diseases and other disorders, such as:
- Treatment using corticosteroid creams, oral antihistamines, calcineurin inhibitors, and antidepressants may be prescribed to reduce itching and disturbing allergic reactions.
- Phototherapy can be done to reduce irritating irritation by using exposure to ultraviolet light and certain sound waves.
Some treatments are also available in the form of lotions so they will be more comfortable to use on certain body parts. Patients are not advised to drive or operate heavy machinery because some drinking drugs can cause drowsiness. To relieve symptoms, do some of the things described in the prevention section.
Prevention of Pruritus
Pruritus sufferers can prevent and reduce symptoms by performing simple treatments at home. Use materials or clothing that do not cause skin irritation. Avoid using clothing that is too tight and detergent that is too hard for the skin.
If possible, also reduce the frequency of bathing as long as itching persists or reduce bath time to no more than 20 minutes. Cold water or warm water is recommended to be used in conjunction with non-scented soaps that can be obtained at drug stores or pharmacies. Dry your body by tapping it, as well as when itching attacks. Cut the nails so that you don’t hurt the skin if you accidentally scratch the area affected by pruritus.
You can also compress the itchy area using a flannel cloth moistened with cold water. For a while, avoid spicy foods, excessive caffeine, and alcohol so that pruritus does not get worse.