Pruritus in atopic dermatitis: Pathophysiology and treatment options

Tejesh Surendra Patel, Gil Yosipovitch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Pruritus is the cardinal symptom of atopic dermatitis - a diagnosis of active disease cannot be made without a history of itching (Hanifin and Rajka 1980). In fact, pruritus is so central to atopic dermatitis that it has been referred to as the itch that rashes (Boguniewicz 2005). The prevalence of itching in atopic dermatitis approaches 100% (Yosipovitch et al. 2002, Dawn et al. 2009). In addition, pruritus is frequently exacerbated at night and has a profound impact on the quality of life of atopic dermatitis patients (Yosipovitch et al. 2002, Dawn et al. 2009). Itching not only disturbs sleep but also contributes to depression, agitation, changes in eating habits, and difficulty concentrating. Decreased sexual desire and sexual function have also been reported in patients with atopic dermatitis with itch (Yosipovitch et al. 2002, Patel et al. 2007b). Scratching leads to increased cutaneous inflammation, which causes further itching and scratching; this is referred to as the itch-scratch cycle. Atopic dermatitis patients are often unaware of the extent to which they scratch at night and how this contributes to the severity of their disease (Patel et al. 2007b).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAtopic Dermatitis and Eczematous Disorders
PublisherCRC Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781840766530
ISBN (Print)9781840761955
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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