Pruritis: causes and treatments

Lesley Dobson / 31 October 2014

A guide to pruritis, one of the most common skin problems in the over-50s. Find out what causes it and how to treat it.

The main symptom of pruritis is itchy skin without a rash.

What causes pruritis?

The most common cause for this condition in people over 65 is dry skin. Itchy skin can also be caused by other skin problems, such as insect bites, eczema, allergies, or conditions that affect the whole body, for instance liver problems, or by medicines.

Itching can also be a result of coming into contact with make up or stinging plants.  In some cases it can be hard to find any cause at all. If you are suffering from itchy skin, either in a small area, or all over, see your doctor.

It’s worth thinking about any other symptoms that appeared with the itching, any unusual food you’ve eaten recently. Make a note of anything you’re allergic to, as well as the medicines you take aspirin, for instance, can cause an allergic reaction. Having this information may help your GP pinpoint a possible cause.

How to treat pruritis

If you can find out what’s causing your itchy skin, it should make treating the problem easier.

Your doctor will look at the itchy area of your skin to check for signs of insect bites or allergic reactions. They may suggest swapping one drug for another, if they think your medication may be causing your itching. They may suggest blood tests to check if a medical condition is behind the problem.

There are a number of different treatments you can try for pruritis. You can buy anti-itching creams over the counter, or your GP may prescribe an anti-histamine cream. Antihistamine tablets or syrup work in some cases, or you could try a steroid cream. Simple moisturisers can often help, especially if you have dry skin. Ask your pharmacist which moisturiser they would recommend for pruritis.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.