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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Itching (pruritus)


Itching (pruritus) is the sensation on your skin that makes you want to scratch.

The feeling can be unpleasant and uncomfortable. You may feel the sensation of itching in one area of your body or your whole body, depending on the cause.

In severe cases, itching can cause sleep disturbance, anxiety and depression.

Causes of itching

There are many possible causes of itching, including:

Sometimes the exact cause of itching cannot be found.

Diagnosing itching

Your general practice team will ask you questions about the itching, including whether you have any other symptoms and any allergies. They will also examine you and check your skin to see if you have a rash.

You may need to have tests done, depending on what your general practice team thinks is causing your itching. These may include:

Treating itching

The treatment depends on the cause of your itching. Your general practice team may prescribe medicines or treatment to relieve the itching, including:

Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist skin doctor (a dermatologist) if your symptoms aren't relieved by these medicines or you have complications.

Self-care for itching

There are some self-care measures that you can do to help relieve the symptom of itching.

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Content shared between HealthInfo Canterbury, KidsHealth and Health Navigator NZ as part of a National Health Content Hub collaborative. Page created May 2023.


Page reference: 1119622

Review key: HIITC-1119622