Pruritus (itch) is a common symptom caused by a very wide variety of conditions. It is defined as an unpleasant sensation that provokes a desire to scratch. Scratching can be considered physiologically appropriate only when there is an external (foreign) stimulus.
It causes a great deal of discomfort and distress to the person. Although itching is often seen as a minor social disability, it can be so severe and intractable as to completely incapacitate a person and present a diagnostic and therapeutic challenge to the physician.
Authored by Robert Settipane, MD