Drug-induced pruritus: a review

Acta Derm Venereol. 2009;89(3):236-44. doi: 10.2340/00015555-0650.


Pruritus is an unpleasant sensation that leads to scratching. In addition to several diseases, the administration of drugs may induce pruritus. It is estimated that pruritus accounts for approximately 5% of all skin adverse reactions after drug intake. However, to date there has been no systematic review of the natural course and possible underlying mechanisms of drug-induced pruritus. For example, no clear distinction has been made between acute or chronic (lasting more than 6 weeks) forms of pruritus. This review presents a systematic categorization of the different forms of drug-induced pruritus, with special emphasis on a therapeutic approach to this side-effect.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Chronic Disease
  • Drug Eruptions / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Pruritus / chemically induced*
  • Pruritus / physiopathology