Itch (Itching or Pruritus)

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Quick GuideRosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

Rosacea, Acne, Shingles: Common Adult Skin Diseases

How is the cause of itching diagnosed?

As with any condition, a careful medical history and physical examination will suggest to your doctor the particular diagnostic tests that may be needed to determine the cause of itching. Some common causes like dry skin or sunburn may be obvious, while causes such as chronic systemic diseases or conditions may require blood or imaging tests to identify. If a skin condition is responsible for the itch, sometimes a scraping or biopsy may be performed to identify the condition. Nevertheless, many common rashes and skin ailments have a characteristic appearance that may suggest the correct diagnosis.

What types of specialists treat itching?

Because the causes of itch are so varied, many different medical practitioners can be involved in treating itching. Itching is commonly treated by specialists in family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, or dermatology. Itching related to allergy may be treated by an allergist or immunologist. Itching related to STDs may be managed by a gynecologist or urologist. An obstetrician-gynecologist may treat women suffering from itching during pregnancy or vaginitis. People with itching due to chronic diseases may be treated by the specialists who manage these conditions, such as endocrinologists, gastorenterologists, nephrologists, oncologists, hematologists, neurologists, and infectious-disease specialists. Some causes of itching are treated by emergency-medicine specialists. Continue Reading

Reviewed on 4/20/2016
References
REFERENCES:

Butler, David F. "Pruritus and Systemic Disease." Medscape.com. Aug. 21, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1098029-overview>.

Mann, Julianne. "Brachioradial Pruritus." Medscape.com. May 15, 2014. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1355312-overview>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Cercarial Dermatitis." Jan. 10, 2012.<http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/swimmersitch/faqs.html>.

United States. National Cancer Institute. "Pruritus." Feb. 5, 2014. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/pruritus/Patient/page1>.

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