Prevalence of Pruritus in the Elderly with Dementia: A Multicenter Survey of Japanese Patients
Akihiko Ikoma, Toshiya Ebata, Ryoko Fukuda, Yoshimasa Takase, Nao Taniguchi, Kimitoshi Takemura, Joelle Vaglio, Michel Poncet, Didier LeClercq
A total of 185 elderly Japanese patients with mild to severe dementia were surveyed on itch, using multiple methods of evaluation including self-evaluation of itch conducted by patients as well as evaluation of scratching behavior and scratching marks on the body surface conducted by others. As a result, 36.8% self-evaluated that they were suffering from itch, whereas 53.5% were found to scratch. Of those who by themselves denied the presence of itch, 31.4% were found to scratch. Dry skin was found in 74.1%, the severity of which was positively correlated to the rating of scratching behavior and marks. These results indicate a high prevalence of pruritus in patients with dementia, and suggest that one should not solely rely on self-evaluation but should refer to additional clinical information such as scratching for evaluation of pruritus in patients with dementia. Skin care with moisturizer may be important to control itch in patients with dementia.
This manuscript is about an epidemiological study on the prevalence of itch in patients with dementia. This study is unique since patients with dementia are usually excluded from the target in studies of this kind. The study results show a high prevalence of itch and suggest that dry skin is an important factor closely linked to itch. The study also reveals the limitation of self-evaluation that is usually used for the assessment of itch and indicates the necessity of evaluations by others or objective methods in patients with dementia.