Lancet. 2003 Feb 22;361(9358):690-4. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(03)12570-6.


Itch is a common skin sensation, with substantial effects on behaviour. Neurophysiological research has permitted accurate definition of neural pathways of itch, and has confirmed the distinctiveness of itch pathways in comparison with pain. A clinical classification of itch, based on such improved understanding, describes the difference between peripheral (pruritoceptive) and central (neurogenic or neuropathic) itch. New specific and sensitive investigational methods in people and animals enable us to better understand this bothersome symptom, and have important clinical implications. We describe the clinical classification of itch, new findings on neuropathophysiology of itch, methods for assessment, and improved treatments.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antipruritics / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Physiological Phenomena
  • Pruritus* / classification
  • Pruritus* / drug therapy
  • Pruritus* / physiopathology


  • Antipruritics