Chronic Pruritus in the Absence of Skin Disease: A Retrospective Study of 197 French Inpatients
Marine Robert, Laurent Misery, Emilie Brenaut
Chronic pruritus (CP) can occur in the absence of skin diseases, and may be secondary to various causes. The aim of this study was to retrospectively analyse the causes of CP without skin disease in a cohort of patients from the dermatology department, including all patients hospitalized for management of their CP between 2008 and 2018. A total of 197 patients with CP without skin disease were included, mean age 66.7 years, 50.8% men. The main causes identified were psychogenic pruritus (41.1% of patients), neuropathic (36.5%), endocrine (12.2%), haematological (9.6%) and iatrogenic (7.1%) causes. The cause was unknown in 20.8% of patients. Total percent is more than 100 because some patients had several etiologies. Only one aetiology of CP was identified in most patients (69.5%), and 2 aetiologies (in 18.3%) or more (in 12.2%). Concerning symptomatic treatments, emollients were prescribed for 40.6% of patients and topical steroids for 20.3%. Among systemic treatments, gabapentinoids (33%), antidepressants (27.4%) and antihistamines (25.3%) were prescribed. The efficacy of these treatments was rarely complete.
This study examined the causes of chronic pruritus in the absence of skin diseases. The main causes identified were psychogenic pruritus (41.1% of patients), neuropathic (36.5%), endocrine (12.2%), haematological (9.6%) and iatrogenic (7.1%) causes. Psychological evaluation is useful in these patients. Aetiological and symptomatic treatments were often ineffective; hence there is a need to find new treatments.