Treatment for wound pruritus following burns

Cliff Richardson, Dominic Upton, M. Rippon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To review the current literature on the treatment of itching, or pruritus, in people with burn wounds.

Method: A literature search using the databases PubMed, MEDLINE and Google Scholar was undertaken. Studies were included in the review if they discussed or evaluated different treatment options for pruritus in patients with burn wounds.

Results: A variety of treatments are available for the relief of pruritus in patients with burns wounds, ranging from antihistamines and topical emollients to psychological therapies, massage and dermatological treatments. Oral antihistamines are used most commonly, yet research indicates that these are not always effective. Few studies are methodologically robust. In recent years, there has been an attempt to design and implement treatment strategies and algorithms, however, there is currently no agreed and consistent management plan for the treatment of pruritus due to burn injury.

Conclusion: Simple single therapies should be the first line therapy for the treatment of pruritus due to burns, however, if these are unsuccessful, combination therapy should be introduced early to try to reduce the onset of chronic itch. Current algorithms and treatment plans based on the stage of healing show promise but need further modification and testing before they can be recommended for common use.

Declaration of interest: There were no external sources of funding for this study. The authors have no conflicts of interests to declare.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-233
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Wound Care
Issue number5
Early online date9 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes


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