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April 11, 1977

Diabetes and Pruritus of the Scalp

JAMA. 1977;237(15):1559. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270420027007

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To the Editor.—  Pruritus, either anogenital or generalized, has long been recognized as a clue to diabetes mellitus. In the past ten years, I have seen several patients whose primary complaint of pruritus confined to the scalp proved to be caused by unsuspected diabetes.Most of these persons had been treated with a variety of shampoos, ointments, lotions, and antihistamines, but without relief. Several had been told that their problem was an emotional one, and one woman was informed that she was having a "nervous breakdown of her scalp." The itching usually began in sporadic fashion but gradually became continuous and unrelenting; it was frequently severe enough to interfere with sleep. In each case, examination of the scalp showed excoriations but no unusual scaling or erythema to indicate psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, or other primary scalp disorder.Each patient experienced complete relief of the pruritus when control of the underlying diabetes