The facts behind psoriasis itch

resisting the urge to itch and scratch

Psoriasis itch

The majority of people living with psoriasis experience itchiness (pruritus) as part of their condition.1-4 People with chronic itching can often feel burning and stinging too.4 Psoriasis itch often affects your scalp, groin, palms of your hands and soles of your feet.1 The constant urge to itch can be frustrating and debilitating.1,2 People whose psoriasis is itchy find it has a greater impact on their quality of life compared to those whose psoriasis doesn’t itch.3 It can affect your mood, concentration, appetite and sleep.3

Psoriasis itch may feel different to the itch from a sting or insect bite. In response to a bite or a sting your body releases a chemical called histamine,1 which is why anti-histamines can be used to relieve the itching.5 However, histamines are not the primary factor involved in psoriasis itch.1 It is not fully understood why psoriasis causes your skin to itch. It is thought to be linked to inflammation in your nervous system4 and can be influenced by emotional stress.3 Psoriasis itch can affect your entire body, even in places you do not have psoriasis plaques.3

itching and scratching due to psoriasis

Resist the urge to scratch

It is important to avoid scratching, although this may be easier said than done. It may bring temporary relief, but it can make the problem worse. It can damage your skin which will make it itchier.1,2 It may also lead to an infection.2

When you scratch wounded skin, you stop it from getting better.2

Using your treatments as advised by your doctor and daily use of moisturising creams (emollients) can help relieve the itchy feeling.6,7

If the urge to scratch is bothering you, talk to your doctor. Explain where it itches, how long the itching lasts, how intense it is and what you do to try to relieve. They will be able to advise you on the best ways to help in terms of the best treatment options to manage itch and coping strategies.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

UK/IE MAT-27024 Date of prep: July 2019

  1. www.psoriasis.org/advance/understanding-the-science-of-psoriasis-itch (accessed July 2019).
  2. www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis-why-does-it-itch#triggers (accessed July 2019).
  3. JC Szepietowski and A Reich. Curr Probl Dermatol 2016; 50: 102-10.
  4. Zeidler C et al. Front Immunol 2019; 10: 1303.
  5. www.nhs.uk/conditions/insect-bites-and-stings/treatment/ (accessed July 2019).
  6. www.nhs.uk/conditions/psoriasis/treatment/ (accessed July 2019).
  7. www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/treatments/topicals/over-the-counter (accessed July 2019).

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