Pediatric Pruritus

Pediatric Pruritus

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Summary

Pruritis – also known as itchy skin – is an irritating condition that makes a child want to scratch their skin.

Expanded overview

Pruritis is a nagging, uncomfortable feeling that makes a child want to scratch their skin. Depending on the cause of the itchiness, the skin may appear normal – or it may be red, rough or have bumps. When a child repeatedly scratches their itchy skin, the skin may become thickened, raised or infected, or bleed.

Oftentimes, the more itchy the skin is, the more a child scratches it. And the more irritated skin is scratched, the itchier it continues to get. Therefore, the itch-scratch cycle can be difficult to break – especially in young children who don’t understand or can’t control their scratching.

Causes

The causes of pruritis are varied, and can include:

  • Allergic reactions to a range of substances, including wool, soaps, poison ivy, cosmetics or certain foods
  • Anemia 
  • Chicken pox
  • Dry skin (xerosis)
  • Eczema
  • Hives (skin rash caused by a reaction to certain foods, medicine or other irritants)
  • Kidney failure
  • Leukemia (cancer that affects the blood cells)
  • Lice
  • Liver disease
  • Lymphoma (cancer that affects the lymph nodes and vessels that carry lymph fluid throughout the body)
  • Multiple sclerosis (disorder in which the immune system breaks down the protective covering of the nerves)
  • Psoriasis (skin condition that causes the buildup of excess cells on the surface of the skin)
  • Reactions to some drugs, such as antibiotics, antifungal medicines or narcotic pain medications
  • Scabies (highly contagious skin condition caused by a tiny insect)
  • Shingles (painful skin condition that causes blisters)
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes 

Symptoms

Dry, itchy skin can occur in any area of the body. Signs and symptoms of pruritis can include:

  • Bumps, spots or blisters on the skin
  • Dry, cracked skin
  • Redness
  • Skin that is leathery or scaly in texture

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