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What Are the Causes of Pruritis?

What Are the Causes of Pruritis? What Are the Causes of Pruritis? What Are the Causes of Pruritis?


Pruritis is another name for itching of the skin. Itchy skin usually encourages people to scratch the area, which can cause irritation and inflammation and make the skin red. This inflammation can also cause more itching, leading to a cycle of itching and scratching. Pruritis can have many causes.

Dry Skin

One cause of pruritis is skin getting dried out. When pruritis occurs without any other symptoms (such as a rash), dry skin is the most likely cause. The skin can become dried as a result of low humidity (in either hot or cold weather), extended exposure to air conditioning or central heating, as well as from washing and bathing too frequently.

Skin Diseases

Itchy skin can also be caused by a number of different skin conditions and diseases. Psoriasis and dermatitis are two common causes of pruritis. Scabies, lice and chickenpox can also cause skin itching. These conditions are marked by the appearance of other symptoms along with the itchiness, including the appearance of bumps and blisters as well as reddening of the skin.

Allergies and Irritation

Sometimes skin problems are a response to chemicals. Soaps, certain chemicals and some fabrics such as wool can all cause itching. Some substances (including foods) can cause an overreaction of the immune system, leading to an allergic reaction (sometimes called contact dermatitis) that can lead to intense skin itching.

Internal Problems

Certain other diseases can cause itching of the skin as a side effect. Liver and kidney problems, for example, can lead to itching, as can problems with wheat digestion (also known as celiac disease). Certain kinds of anemia (such as those caused by iron deficiency) also have pruritis as a symptom. Some kinds of cancer (including leukemia) and thyroid disorders can cause itching of the skin.

Other Causes

There are a number of other causes of itchy skin. Some medications (such as antibiotics) can cause itching of the skin as well as other side effects (clindamycin, for example, can cause a itchy red rash to appear). Also, itchiness is a common side effect of pregnancy. Many women's pruritis is exacerbated by pregnancy.

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