Itching (also called pruritus) is a normal bodily response to an insect bite, for example, and can also be a symptom of an underlying illness, psychological disorders or skin condition.  It can be very distressing to the sufferer, affecting the quality of life, interrupting sleep patterns and sometimes causing anxiety and depression.

What causes pruritus?

Itching without a rash, particularly in older patients, can simply be a result of changes in the skin that occur with increasing age.   However, it can also be caused by an internal disease or as a side effect of some medications. The first step during your consultation with Dr Williams is to try to establish whether a cause of pruritus can be identified.

What treatment options are there for pruritus?

Treatments for pruritus include soap substitutes to avoid irritating the skin and moisturisers aiming to improve skin barrier function.  Topical steroids and oral antihistamines can be helpful.  If an underlying cause is found treatment can be directed towards addressing this.  Phototherapy can be beneficial and other medications such as amitriptyline or gabapentin may also be helpful.