Prevalence of chronic pruritus in Germany: results of a cross-sectional study in a sample working population of 11,730

Dermatology. 2010;221(3):229-35. doi: 10.1159/000319862. Epub 2010 Oct 1.


Background: Pruritus is a frequent symptom in many diseases; its prevalence in German adults is unknown.

Objective: Our purpose was to assess the prevalence, severity and health care of chronic pruritus in the German working population.

Methods: A cross-sectional observational study was conducted in employees of 144 German companies. Pruritus-specific data were obtained by standardized questions.

Results: 11,730 people (53.2% male, 16-70 years, mean = 43.7 years) were suitable for analysis. The point prevalence of chronic pruritus (at least 6 weeks prior to data collection) was 16.8%. The prevalence increased with age from 12.3% (16-30 years) to 20.3% (61-70 years). A quarter of the affected persons had suffered from pruritus for >5 years, 47% had never sought medical advice, and 94% had not undergone any treatment.

Conclusions: Chronic pruritus is a prevalent symptom in the working age population. A high proportion of people affected are not medically treated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dermatitis, Atopic / complications
  • Dermatitis, Contact / complications
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Pruritus / epidemiology*
  • Pruritus / etiology
  • Psoriasis / complications
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Young Adult