Underlying Diseases and Co-factors in Patients with Severe Chronic Pruritus: a 3-year Retrospective Study
Franz Sommer, Peter Hensen, Barbara Böckenholt, Dieter Metze, Thomas A. Luger and Sonja Ständer
Chronic pruritus is a symptom of many diseases, with studies pending investigating its prevalence or incidence. The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics of the underlying diseases in a large number of patients. A total of 263 patients (110 men, 153 women; age range 8–95 years; mean 55.9 years) were included in the study. The following data were collected from patients presenting over a 3-year period: gender, age, history, skin lesions, laboratory, histological and radiological investigations. An underlying dermatosis was identified in 41.8% of patients, a systemic disease including unidentified neoplasms in 13.3% and a neurological disorder in 0.4%. No disease was found in 44.5% of patients. Among the patients in whom no disease was found, 55.6% of the, mainly elderly, patients had an accumulation of many co-factors, suggesting an own subgroup with multifactorial origin for the pruritus. The distribution and type of secondary scratch lesions gave no clue as to the underlying disease. In conclusion, patients with chronic pruritus present a inhomgeneous collective with different underlying diseases, including malignancy, necessitating thorough investigation.