A comprehensive, tri-national, cross-sectional analysis of characteristics and impact of pruritus in psoriasis

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2022 Nov;36(11):2064-2075. doi: 10.1111/jdv.18330. Epub 2022 Jun 28.


Background: Pruritus is prevalent in psoriasis but still many features of pruritus, its response to therapy and its burden in psoriasis remain to be better characterized.

Objective: To investigate characteristics and burden of pruritus in an international cohort of patients with psoriasis.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included a total of 634 patients and 246 controls from Germany, Poland and Russia. Physicians examined and interviewed participants, recording clinical characteristics, such as severity, therapy and localization of psoriatic lesions. Participants filled out self-reported questionnaires including questions on pruritus severity and impact, characteristics, and response to therapy, and quality of life (QoL). Localization patterns of pruritus and skin lesions were visualized using body heat maps.

Results: Most patients (82%) experienced pruritus throughout their disease, and 75% had current pruritus. The majority of patients (64%) perceived pure pruritus, and those who reported additional painful and/or burning sensations (36%) reported overall stronger pruritus. The scalp was the most frequently reported localization of pruritus, even in the absence of skin lesions. Body surface area (BSA) of pruritus was not linked to pruritus intensity, but to BSA of psoriatic lesions (rho = 0.278; P < 0.001). One third of patients (31%) reported impaired sex-life, and 4% had suicidal ideations due to pruritus. In up to one third of patients, psoriasis therapies had little or no effect on pruritus. The only therapeutic option offered to some of these patients were antihistamines, which appeared to be effective in most cases.

Conclusion: Pruritus is highly prevalent in psoriasis and is linked to a significant burden. Current psoriasis therapies are frequently insufficient to control pruritus. Managing psoriasis should include the assessment and control of itch. Efficient antipruritic therapies should be developed and be made available for patients with psoriasis.

MeSH terms

  • Antipruritics* / therapeutic use
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Pruritus / drug therapy
  • Psoriasis* / drug therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Antipruritics

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