Wound pruritus: Prevalence, aetiology and treatment

Dominic Upton, Craig Richardson, Abbye Andrews, M. Rippon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: to review the literature into itching or pruritus, in relation to burns or other types of wound, with a focus on the physiological mechanisms underlying itching and the issues associated with itching in people with wounds.

Method: A literature search was conducted using pubmed, meDlIneand Google Scholar, including english-language papers published up to 2012. the search terms used were: ['pruritus' or'itching'] or ['chronic'] AnD ['wounds' or'burns']. Studies were included in the review if they addressed the implications of pruritus in relation to burns and acute or chronic wounds.

Results: All types of wound may be associated with acute or chronic itching, depending on their pathology and the severity of the trauma. burns have a very high incidence of itch and this can be an issue many years after healing in some patients. the impact of itch can be severe, leading to issues such as anxiety, depression, reduced sleep, and impaired quality of life. Furthermore, scratching may lead to infection recurrence and delayed healing through exacerbating the patient's physical and psychological condition.

Conclusion: Itching is a significant issue for people with burns and other types of wound, causing a range of physical and psychological difficulties, impairing quality of life, and potentially leading to delayed healing. It is therefore essential that clear guidelines are developed in relation to treatment options for people with burns and other wounds who experience itching.

Declaration of interest: this study was supported by a financial grant from mölnlycke Health Care. m. rippon is an employee of mölnlycke Health Care; D. Upton, C. richardson and A. Andrews have no commercial or social conflicts of interest with respect to the article or its content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)501-508
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Wound Care
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013
Externally publishedYes


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