Review

Nocturnal Itch: Why Do We Itch At Night?

Tejesh Patel, Yozo Ishiuji and Gil Yosipovitch
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-0280

Abstract

Pruritus is exacerbated at night in many systemic and dermatological diseases, resulting in reports of significantly diminished quality of life and sleep disturbances. At present, the underlying mechanisms responsible for night-time itching are not well understood. Nocturnal pruritus may be related to the circadian rhythm of itch mediators and possibly the disruption of such patterns. Diurnal changes in skin physiology, such as temperature and barrier function, may also play a role. Currently, the paucity of specific treatment options for nocturnal pruritus is alarming and needs to be addressed by future research. This review describes the scale of the problem associated with nocturnal pruritus, the impact it has on patients, possible underlying mechanisms and, lastly, treatment options.