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Papers: 28 Sep 2019 - 4 Oct 2019

Human Studies


2019 Sep 27

Medicines (Basel)



Racial and Gender Differences in the Presentation of Pruritus.


Whang KA, Khanna R, Thomas J, Aguh C, Kwatra SG
Medicines (Basel). 2019 Sep 27; 6(4).
PMID: 31569651.


Pruritus is a common disease symptom with a variety of etiologies known to reduce patient quality of life. We aimed to characterize the racial and gender differences in the presentation of pruritus for itch-related patient visits both within a single institution and nationally. Cross sectional study of patients ≥ 18 years old seen at Johns Hopkins Health System between 1/1/12 and 1/1/18. Results were compared to data from 2005-2011 from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) and the National Health Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). Our findings indicate that itch patients at JHHS ( = 18,753) were more likely to be black compared to white patients (37% vs. 19%, < 0.01) when compared to patients without itch-a trend also noted nationally based on data from NAMCS/NHAMCS (26% vs. 21%, = 0.05). Black itch patients are also more likely to be diagnosed with prurigo nodularis (OR 2.37, < 0.0001), lichen planus (OR 1.22, < 0.0001), and atopic dermatitis OR 1.51, < 0.0001). Female itch patients are more likely to be diagnosed with autoimmune (OR 1.66, < 0.0001) and psychiatric comorbidities (OR 1.2-1.8, < 0.0001) than male itch patients. When compared to black itch patients nationally, white itch patients were more likely to visit a dermatologist (29% vs. 18%, = 0.028). Our data can identify associated conditions and demographic differences but are unable to support a causal relationship. Black and female patients are more likely to present with pruritus, a symptom associated with comorbidities such as prurigo nodularis, lichen planus, atopic dermatitis, and psychiatric conditions.