Content » Vol 99, Issue 11

Investigative Report

Itch in Elderly People: A Cross-sectional Study

Radomir Reszke, Rafał Białynicki-Birula, Karolina Lindner, Małgorzata Sobieszczańska, Jacek C. Szepietowski
DOI: 10.2340/00015555-3271


Ageing is associated with numerous medical afflictions, including dermatological symptoms and diseases. Chronic itch (CI) in elderly people is a frequent symptom of diverse aetiology. This study assessed the prevalence and detailed clinical features of CI among 153 elderly patients hospitalized in the geriatric ward, including associations with comorbidities and pharmacotherapy. CI affected 35.3% of subjects, most commonly due to cutaneous conditions, mixed aetiology and neurological disorders (53.7%, 25.9% and 11.1% of pruritic subjects, respectively). The mean itch intensity assessed with the 4-Item Itch Questionnaire (4IIQ) was 6.6 ± 2.8 points. Viral hepatitis (p = 0.02), higher serum creatinine concentration (p = 0.02) and coexistent purpuric lesions (p = 0.002) were associated with higher 4IIQ scores. In logistic regression analysis CI correlated positively with female sex, atopic dermatitis, immobility, rheumatoid arthritis and ischaemic neurological diseases, while low-molecular-weight heparins, antipruritic drugs, allergy, rosacea and higher haemoglobin concentration had the contrary effect. CI is a frequent and interdisciplinary problem among elderly subjects, which requires a holistic clinical approach.


Chronic itch is a frequent problem of complex aetiopathogenesis, especially among elderly patients. This study extensively evaluated the prevalence, clinical characteristics and possible associations of chronic itch with systemic comorbidities and pharmacotherapy in a cohort of elderly patients hospitalized in a geriatric ward, which, to the best of our knowledge, have rarely been reported in the literature. The results of this study support the role of an interdisciplinary diagnostic and therapeutic approach to elderly patients with chronic itch.

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