Itching in the Psychiatric Ward
Doron Mazeh, Yuval Melamed, Alex Cholostoy, Vadim Aharonovitzch, Abraham Weizman, Gil Yosipovitch
Chronic itch is known to have psychogenic elements; however, there is no data on itch prevalence and characteristics among hospitalized psychiatric patients. We investigated the prevalence and types of itching among hospitalized psychiatric patients who met DSM-IV criteria for schizophrenia, affective or other psychiatric disorders. A validated itch questionnaire based on the McGill Pain Questionnaire, which examines the incidence and characteristics of itching, was administered to 111 patients, hospitalized in an Israeli university hospital. Patients with atopic eczema, psoriasis, or systemic diseases that cause pruritus were excluded. Thirty-six patients (32% of those screened) reported itching. Few sought help or used anti-pruritic therapy. Itching should be addressed during psychiatric assessments, in order to provide appropriate treatment.