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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Jun 2024 - 28 Jun 2024

2024 Jun 24

Dermatol Ther (Heidelb)


Psychodermatology of Chronic Pruritus: An Overview of the Link Between Itch and Distress.


Ferreira BR, Katamanin OM, Jafferany M, Misery L


Chronic pruritus (CP) is defined as an unpleasant sensation causing a desire to scratch and lasting > 6 weeks. It has a multifactorial etiology but is more frequently associated with chronic inflammatory dermatoses and systemic disorders. Psychogenic pruritus and neurological disorders are other less common etiologies, while, in some patients, it is idiopathic. CP appears to be processed by non-histaminergic pathway, contributing to its complexity and therapeutic challenge. Moreover, regardless of the etiology, it is multidimensional, including cognitive, motivational and affective components. There is a close link between psychological distress and pruritus, with particular clinical expression in chronic inflammatory dermatoses, involving the activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (and its cutaneous equivalent), the sympathetic nervous system, the release of hormones and peptides, the role of immune cells (T and B cells, macrophages) and immune-related cells in the skin (mast cells, dendritic cells and keratinocytes). Moreover, there is strong evidence that psychological factors influence the experience of pruritus. CP can also cause psychiatric disorders, including but not limited to anxiety and depression, and also lead to significant quality of life (QoL) impairment. Thereby, although a psychodermatological assessment should ideally be carried out in the context of a specific psychodermatology consultation, a brief mental health assessment could be part of the general dermatological approach to these patients. Considering that mental health, QoL and pruritus are closely linked, psychotherapeutic interventions and/or psychotropic drugs should thus be considered in some patients as an adjunct to the pharmacological treatment of CP.