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Papers of the Week

Papers: 12 Oct 2019 - 18 Oct 2019


2020 Feb

Int J Dermatol



Pain and Pruritus: a study of their similarities and differences.


Anzelc M, Burkhart CG
Int J Dermatol. 2020 Feb; 59(2):159-164.
PMID: 31605395.


Pruritus is one of the most common dermatologic complaints and, as the most common dermatologic symptom, is a major contributor to frequent dermatology visits. Chronic pruritus mirrors another major medical condition faced by millions of Americans each year – chronic pain. In older literature, pain and pruritus were thought to have been conveyed by the same C fiber, and the proportion contributing to pruritus was just a small subset of this general fiber. Overall, pain and pruritus share many integral similarities. Although these sensations both initiate the body's awareness to injury, pain and itch may have evolved for sensing different damages such as a burrowing parasite or a noxious stimulus, respectively. This seems to have been validated through analyses of their pathophysiology, acute and chronic conditions, and treatment modalities. However, their symptoms and intrinsic mechanisms vary considerably. It is important to view pruritus in more of an overall, whole body experience, rather than just the sensory aspect. Future studies should investigate the psychological treatment of chronic pruritus, considering the immense similarities with its chronic pain counterpart.