Itchy Skin (Pruritus) Dermatologist2019-06-11T09:53:16+00:00

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Itchy skin (Pruritus) is an uncomfortable sensation leading to scratching

IN THESE VIDEOS, I EXPLAIN THE SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF ITCHY SKIN (PRURITUS) – AND HOW TO TREAT IT

In the videos above, I explain things in a simple way that applies to most people who have itchy skin. Of course, no video or website can replace the value of a personalised consultation. At your consultation, you can have your skin carefully examined and get an expert recommendation to help you resolve your condition.

Book a consultation

Treatment helps people of all ages take control of their skin condition and get their life back.

CALL 0118 373 5198

How does itchy skin impact people on a day-by-day basis?

APART FROM THE PERSISTENT ITCHING SENSATION, THE CONSTANT AND EXHAUSTING NATURE OF THIS CONDITION CAN LEAD TO LOW MOOD AND LOSS OF SLEEP

Constant and persistent itching

You might feel the urge to scratch so much and so often that you leave scratch marks on your skin. These can get so bad you might draw blood and cause scars. In some cases, you might develop thickened skin and nodules.

How it feels

Persistent itching can be frustrating to say the least. Pruritus has a substantial impact on quality of life, comparable to that of chronic pain. Symptoms of depression, global distress and sleep impairment can arise.

The discomfort can be debilitating

Some patients say that the itching can distract them from everything they do. Some report scratching or thinking about scratching throughout the day. It can be especially bad at night when you can’t preoccupy yourself with daily activities. One study found that participants with chronic itching were willing to give up 13% of their life span (about 10 years) to live itch-free.

Constant scratching can be socially unacceptable

In some cultures, the western being one, it can be considered taboo to scratch oneself in certain areas. Excessive scratching might suggest to others that you have an underlying health problem. It could concern the people around you.

What can you do to stop scratching?

I can recommend many treatments to help with you deal with an itching sensation. Practical approaches to break the itch-scratch cycle include distraction techniques and mindfulness.

What my patients love about my service

MY PATIENTS ARE MY BEST PROMOTERS

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou for her assessment on my continued taking of roaccutane.

She was completely right, I didn’t need a new course, I needed to move away from the drug. The creams she gave me and Cetaphil recommendation have meant my skin has been the best it’s ever been (ongoing and since I saw her) ALL SUMMER :))))) I’ve had zero problems…and I’m loving it.

Thank you once again.


Phillip, Acne

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

Following the consultation today I feel it appropriate to say thank you for your help in dealing with my rosacea.

On each occasion, I have visited your department I have noticed the kindness and cheeriness of all the staff I have encountered and particularly wanted to say that you made me feel at ease with your calmness and excellent manner.

All is much appreciated.”


Anne, Rosacea

“Thank you very much!!

You three were (and are) a great team!

I will remember you.

You made me feel comfortable.”


Ellie

“Tania,

Please pass to Dr Pratsou my thanks for her skilled work.

The wound is healing beautifully and now the stitches are out it looks as though it will be almost invisible once fully healed.”


Graham, Skin cancer removal

“Dear Dr Penelope, Rena & the team, (I can’t remember the nurse’s name who helped me during my 2 procedures at the Spire!)

I wanted to thank you for your support and help during a very difficult time. You guys do a wonderful job – and we are eternally grateful for your help.”


Clarissa, Skin cancer

“I would like to put on record how impressed I was with the operation you performed for the removal of the SCC on my neck. I cannot even see where the cut or the stitches were! I am indeed very grateful for the excellent work you do.”


Harry, Squamous Cell Carcinoma

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

I am very grateful to you for your diagnosis, recommended treatment and advice. Your letter to my GP sets out both the course of events, and your own analysis of probable condition and possible cause, clearly summarising our discussion.

I hope there will be no recurrence but I will certainly come back to you if there is.”


Ryan, Skin rash

“Dear Tania,

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou. I saw her this morning for a mole check. She was so lovely and reassuring. Please also thank the two nurses who assisted her during the mole removal procedure. I was very nervous, but they were very efficient, which meant I did not have too long to think about it, but most of all they were very kind. They kept me distracted and calm, which made a huge difference. Thank you also for your efficiency in both booking me in so quickly.”


James, Mole removal
Dear Ms. Pratsou,

I am writing to thank you for the care you have given me in the past few months. From the moment I walked into your consulting room with a lesion on my cheek, a lesion that I fully expected to be some sort of skin cancer (and it was), you have been thorough, reassuring, respectful and in every way professional.

You recognised that I had some insight into the condition of my skin and the procedures required to treat me. You listened to me. You projected expertise and compassion.

During the procedure to remove the growth you ensured that the atmosphere in the treatment room remained not only calm, but actually pleasant. Had it not been that you were excising a growth and sewing me up, I almost felt as if you, me and the nurse were at some sort of women’s discussion group. The time flew by. I had zero anxieties about the procedure and as we both know now, the wound healed flawlessly.

Thank you for your expertise and your communication skills and all round good nature. I feel very lucky.


Karen Tatom, Skin cancer removal

We have replaced the images and names of real patients who provided these testimonials to protect their privacy.

The first step to feeling in charge of your skin is to book an initial consultation

FIND OUT HOW TO GET THE SKIN YOU WANT

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How it works

FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN IN 3 EASY STEPS

STEP 1 – CALL US
STEP 2 – LET’S MEET
STEP 3 – RESOLUTION
CONTACT MY STAFF

Give us a call on 0118 373 5198 and we’ll help guide you towards a first appointment.

MEET WITH ME

I’ll see you and examine your skin before I recommend treatment. In some cases, I can begin treating your condition on the same day.

FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN

I’ll guide you down the road towards a resolution of your skin condition so that you can get back to normal life.

More information about itchy Skin (Pruritus)

FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE DETAILS

Pruritus/itching is an uncomfortable sensation leading to scratching. While itching can occur in the context of many skin conditions, in some cases it may occur in the absence of a rash and underlying (systemic) causes need to be considered.

  • Constant or persistent itching and scratching
  • Excoriations (scratch marks) to the point of making yourself bleed and causing scars
  • Lichenified (thickened) skin
  • Prurigo nodules
  • Discomfort
  • Low mood
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Itch can originate from any part of the neural pathway, from the brain and spinal cord to the peripheral nervous system down to the skin
  • It could be due to an underlying (systemic) cause eg low iron levels, thyroid, blood, kidney or liver problems
  • Certain medication can cause itching
  • In over 65s, a common cause is dry skin
  • Itch could be a precursor to an emerging skin condition
  • In many cases, no underlying cause can be found.

I will take a detailed history including pre-existing conditions, review of medication, the effect of the situation on your life and including sleep disturbances.

I will also conduct a thorough skin examination to look for signs of skin or systemic disease.

Initial investigations can involve some blood tests to rule out underlying systemic problems.

The treatment depends on the cause of itching. Treatment for itchy skin may involve:

  • Soap substitutes
  • Emollients, and
  • Menthol containing creams

I may recommend you take topical steroid preparations (in brief bursts) or antihistamines that may be helpful.

In certain situations and especially if other measures have not been helpful, I might also recommend phototherapy (light therapy).

“How can I get rid of itchy skin?”

That depends on the cause of the itching. I will need to conduct a consultation and a targeted investigation to establish this so that I can advise the appropriate management for your problem.

“Is itchy skin contagious?”

That is a widespread and understandable concern, but in the vast majority of cases, we find no evidence of infection or infestation. Quite frequently, people with generalised itching have already received treatment for scabies even though clinicians see no evidence of it. That misdiagnosis can sometimes cause unnecessary anxiety.

“What can I do to stop scratching?”

I can recommend many treatments to help with you deal with an itching sensation.

Practical approaches to break the itch-scratch cycle include distraction techniques and mindfulness.

Affiliations and memberships

I AM PROUD TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE FOLLOWING ORGANISATIONS

Questions and answers

RELEVANT AND INFORMATIVE VIDEOS AND ARTICLES

How can you prevent rosacea?

Dr Penelope Pratsou discusses whether it is possible to prevent rosacea flare-ups and if lifestyle modifications can help to protect your skin. 

About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.

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