Itch (cont.)

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When should the doctor be consulted for itching?

If home treatment isn't helping, or you notice that scratching is affecting the skin being scratched (infection, lichenification [thickening and scarring], or pigmentation), or the itch is disturbing your sleep, you should consult a doctor to ascertain why you're itching. A doctor can also prescribe stronger cortisone-based creams (for eczemas and allergies) and prescription-grade antihistamines, if necessary, or treat the underlying condition that is causing the itch.

What are possible complications of itching?

As mentioned previously, a secondary bacterial infection of the skin is perhaps the most common complication of itching. This occurs not as a result of the itch but as a result of the scratching and associated skin damage. Antibiotics may be required to treat a bacterial infection of the skin. Itching itself is unlikely to lead to other complications, although some of the underlying diseases that cause itching (see above) are associated with complications specific to the disease itself.

What is the prognosis (outlook) for itching?

Itching itself is not associated with long-term problems or harm, and most cases of itch are temporary and resolve on their own or with topical or oral treatments. Itching that is associated with a serious condition may persist if the condition worsens or it may be managed with medications.

REFERENCES:

Butler, David F. "Pruritus and Systemic Disease." Medscape.com. May 31, 2012. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1098029-overview>.

Mann, Julianne. "Brachioradial Pruritus." Medscape.com. June 18, 2012. <http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1355312-overview>.

United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Cercarial Dermatitis." Nov. 2, 2010.<http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/swimmersitch/faqs.html>.

United States. National Cancer Institute. "Pruritus." Jan. 21, 2009. <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/pruritus/Patient/page1>.


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/27/2013

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Itching - Treatments Question: What treatment did you receive for your itching?
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Itching - Associated Symptoms Question: In addition to itching, what other signs or symptoms did you experience?
Itching - Scratching Prevention Question: How do you keep from scratching an itch? Please share helpful tips and suggestions.

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