Impact of pruritus on quality of life in sulfur mustard-exposed Iranian veterans

Int J Dermatol. 2008 Jun;47(6):557-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2008.03650.x.


Background: Sulfur mustard, a chemical warfare agent, has various verified chronic effects on the skin. One of the foremost negative impacts of this agent is chronic pruritus, which plagues chemically injured veterans for life and can downgrade their quality of life.

Aim: To assess the association between the quality of life and pruritus severity in chemically injured veterans.

Methods: One hundred and twenty-five consecutive chemically injured veterans suffering from pruritus were assessed via the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) and pruritus score. Pruritus scores less than 15, between 16 and 30, and more than 30 were considered as mild, moderate, and severe pruritus, respectively. Patients with different levels of pruritus were compared with respect to their DLQI and its subscores.

Results: All subjects were male with a mean age of 44.3 +/- 8.0 years; 11.2% had mild, 35.2% moderate, and 53.6% severe itching. The DLQI median scores in the mild, moderate, and severe cases were 16, 20, and 21, respectively (P = 0.014). The DLQI subscores of symptoms and feelings (P = 0.015), personal relationships (P = 0.002), and daily activities (P = 0.036) were worst in patients with severe itching.

Conclusion: Chemically injured veterans suffering from severe itching have a significantly poorer quality of life than do patients with milder symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chemical Warfare
  • Chemical Warfare Agents / poisoning*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mustard Gas / poisoning*
  • Pruritus* / chemically induced
  • Pruritus* / classification
  • Pruritus* / psychology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Skin Diseases / chemically induced
  • Skin Diseases / pathology
  • Skin Diseases / psychology*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Veterans*


  • Chemical Warfare Agents
  • Mustard Gas