Background: Pruritus is a common disabling problem in patients with advanced end-stage renal disease. Few studies have evaluated the clinical characteristics of uremic itch. Objectives: The aim of this multicenter study was to provide a comprehensive description of the prevalence and clinical characteristics of pruritus affecting patients with end-stage renal disease who are undergoing hemodialysis. Methods: A detailed questionnaire recently developed was used to evaluate pruritus in 219 patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment in 3 dialysis units. We examined the relationship of the quality of dialysis and various factors and medical parameters to itch. Results: Pruritus was a common symptom in the study population. Approximately 66% of the patients had pruritus at some point, and 48% were affected by it at the time of the study. There was no correlation between the occurrence of pruritus and demographic or medical parameters (type of kidney disease, medical management, dialysis efficacy as expressed by Kt/V) of the patient. The data suggest that uremic pruritus tends to be prolonged, frequent, and intense, and it can impair the patient's quality of life including a negative effect on sleep and mood. Major factors found to exacerbate pruritus include rest, heat, dry skin, and sweat. Major factors found to reduce pruritus include activity, sleep, hot and cold shower, and cold. Treatment with angiotensin inhibitors seemed to be more common among those with uremia who had itch (P = .02) whereas furosemide was more commonly used among those who never itched (P = .002). Conclusion: This study provides a detailed description of uremic pruritus with new data on its characteristics including affective and sensory dimensions and associated symptoms.
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