What Is Pruritus – What You Need To Do If You Have It

What Is Pruritus – What is it?

what is pruritus

Pruritus is one of those words that does not indicate much about what it is. If your doctor told you that you had pruritus, it could strike fear into your heart because there is nothing in the word that indicates what it is. Pruritus is simply the Latin word for “itch”. The word has been given to the kind of itch that goes beyond a little itch that comes and then goes.

So what is the real pruritus definition? Pruritus is an itch that gets out of control. The more you scratch, the worse it gets. Your skin gets dry and the itch gets worse. Pruritus may even have a rash attached to it. Pruritus can strike any part of your body. However, some areas of the body are more prone to this itch than others. Parts of your head such as your scalp, nose, ears, and eyes are common locations for pruritus. Other itch locations are your arms, legs, chest and back. Anal pruritus is another common type.

Sometimes pruritus has a rash and sometimes it doesn’t. With a rash, pruritus is easier to diagnose and treat. There are skin conditions that lead to pruritus. Dry skin, eczema, and allergies make your skin itch. Other causes can be an irritation to the skin from chemicals, bug bites, or medication.

If an itch suddenly appears with a rash, start thinking about what you might have changed recently. Different laundry detergent? A new food? A new piece of clothing with a fabric that irritates your skin? Whether the itch is caused by something internal or external, it can be very distressing.

Without a rash, the itch is still there but the cause is more difficult to isolate. It can be caused by liver or kidney problems, thyroid issues, low iron levels or an infection. While you don’t have the discomfort or unsightliness of the rash, this might be the more dangerous form of pruritus. Liver problems that lead to pruritus can be quite serious even fatal.

Obviously this means that you should have any persistent itch checked out by your doctor. Just because it does not have a rash, it does not mean that the itch is no big deal. Before your itch becomes persistent, when there is still the chance that it is just a minor itch that will go away after a few days, there are some things you can do to relieve the problem.

Cold compresses help. There are soothing lotions that will calm the itch. Avoid hot baths that will dry out your skin even more. Try lukewarm baths. Use a moisturizing soap and follow up any bath with a moisturizing cream. This will keep your skin from drying out and becoming itchier.

Pruritus – Your Body’s Reaction To The Extreme Itching

extreme itchingPruritus creates an incredible urge to scratch the extreme itching that the individual feels. In and of itself, pruritus is a symptom rather than a disease. The itch can be overwhelming and it’s usually the manifestation of a wide variety of diseases.

Some of these are skin diseases and some are systemic diseases. Pruritus can be located in one part of your body or it might be spread over your entire body. It can come and go or it can come and stay.

If your pruritus lasts for more than 6 weeks it is a chronic condition. At this point, you need to seek medical attention. Left untended, the itch can interfere with your life. It may not go away on its own and the itch will reach disturbing proportions. You need to know that it may not be easy to diagnose a chronic pruritus problem.

Nerve endings in your skin receive their messages from sensations that affect your skin. The sensations can come from being touched or from internal actions of your body. When the sensation reaches the nerve endings, it is transmitted to the central spinothalamic tract.  This is a pathway that runs along the spinal cord.

Inside the spine there is the spinal cord which is also known as white matter. The neurons that receive the messages from the fibers are located in this white matter. The spinothalamic tract sends messages about the sensations it receives to the thalamus. The messages can basically be divided into categories such as pain, itch, temperature and touch.

To give you an idea of the range of disorders that can cause pruritus here is small list of disorders that can keep your nerve endings sending itch sensations. There are dermatological disorders such as dermatitis herpetiformis, Sjögren’s syndrome, pemphigoid and dermatomyositis and genetic diseases including Darier’s disease and ichthyoses. Infections such a dermatophytosis, folliculitis, insect bites, scabies and pediculosis are also itch-producing. There are many others as well including eczema and liver disease.

This is why it is important to try to determine the cause of the itch. It is a strange type of problem where something makes you itchy and the itch’s primary role is to bring your attention to something else that bothers your body. Pruritus is so demanding that your natural response – scratching – causes even more problems.

As well as dry skin, scratching can cause infection, excoriation, lichenification, and eczematization. These then become a disorder. In summary, pruritus is a symptom of a disorder that in turn can cause another disorder.

Pruritus in Pregnancy

pruritus in pregnancyPruritus is a common side effect of pregnancy. This happens along with hives and other kinds of rashes. Primarily the reason for these itching disorders to occur during pregnancy is that there are many hormonal and chemical changes in your body when you are pregnant.

Pregnancy can be difficult and uncomfortable enough with the nausea in the first three months and the discomfort as your body grows. There’s pressure on your bladder and aching in your back, not to mention the difficulty sitting comfortably at a table with your belly in the way.

There’s no need to add itching or pruritus to your condition. Your best bet is to take preventative measures. Just side note here but pruritus urticarial, which is the kind of itch that is common in pregnant women, can easily be treated with an ointment or cream before it gets too widespread. Being prepared is the best measure to take. Ask your doctor for a cream to use at the first sign of an outbreak.

Pruritus usually happens in the last trimester and while it isn’t dangerous either to the mother or the fetus, it is extremely uncomfortable. While it can happen in other parts of the body, this rash usually shows up in the striata (stretch marks) on your pregnant belly. About the only place that you won’t get the rash is on your face, the palms of your hands, or the soles of your feet.

There are a couple of  indicators based on scientific studies that show who is more apt to get pruritus. It helps to know so that you will be more diligent in watching for the rash to appear if you are in one of the high-risk categories. Usually the more your skin is distended during pregnancy the more vulnerable you will be to the rash.

For instance, women having twins are more apt than single birth mothers to have pruritus. Women having triplets are more prone to the rash than women having twins. Also, women who have gained extra weight during the pregnancy are common candidates for pruritus. The common factor is that your skin is really stretched in these cases.

Another factor is the number of pregnancies that you have had. The majority of the cases of pruritus take place in first-time pregnancies. Actually the rate is about 73 percent in first-time pregnancies which is pretty high.  That is 73 percent of the cases of pruritus are first-time mothers.

However, it still does happen in women with previous pregnancies, just not at such a high percentage. Another interesting statistic about pregnancies is the gender of the fetus. The ratio of the gender of the infants in women with pruritus is 2 males to 1 female fetus. So if you have pruritus, you are most likely having a boy.

 Using Cat Pruritus Home Remedy For Pruritus in Cats

cat pruritus home remedy

One of the unfortunate things about being a cat owner, or being owned by a cat which is more the case, is that cats cannot really tell you what’s wrong with them. Sure if they have an itch they can scratch and if it keeps on scratching you have to be observant enough to know that they are itching.

The source of the itch can come from a lot of different places. The cat can have fleas or dry skin or allergies. Whatever the cause of pruritus, or extreme itching, in your cat puritus has to be monitored. Cats cannot exert willpower or self-control to avoid scratching. They just scratch and they can scratch until they damage to their skin.

You have to use common sense in watching for abnormal scratching. It is natural for a cat to scratch him or herself several times a day. It is just part of being a cat. When you pay attention to your cat you will begin to notice if there is a problem. Basically if it does change its scratching pattern over the space of 24 hours you might have a problem.

When the itch gets bad enough the cat will actually begin to bite because their little paws and claws don’t do the job. When the scratching and biting continues, the cat will begin to develop bald spots. Your vet will be able offer you a cure. Also, it is a good idea to supplement your cat’s diet with fish oil as this keeps your cat’s immune system up to par and also prevents the cat’s skin from getting too dry.

However before diagnosing the cat as having pruritus, you really should have the vet check out the cat. He or she can run some diagnostic tests such as taking a skin biopsy or scraping and running fungal culture tests. The reason for this is that the underlying cause of the itch might be something other than fleas or allergies. In humans this extreme itch can be the result of liver disease and the same might be the case for the cat.

Once pruritus has been identified as stemming from fleas or allergies or some other such external cause, it becomes easier to deal with. A cat pruritus home remedy that keep the cat’s fur and skin healthy can be applied. These natural remedies are also excellent for the cat’s immune system. Some of the natural remedies for pruritus in cats are horsetail (Equisetum arvense),  dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis), and  spirulina (Arthrospira platenis). However, check with your vet first.