• Pruritus is a cutaneous sensation sharing neural receptors and pathways with pain but is characterized by its own precipitants, potentiators, and range of severity. Among patients with generalized pruritus, the prevalence of systemic disease has been reported as 10% to 50%, with renal, hepatic, hematopoietic, or endocrine causes most commonly identified. Malignant neoplasms, neurologic disorders, certain drugs, or advanced age also may be responsible. Although the pathogenesis of pruritus is unknown, clinically relevant potential mediators have been investigated in several settings. Therapy often fails when the underlying disorder cannot be corrected, but for pruritus associated with chronic renal failure or hepatic cholestasis, specific and usually effective treatments exist.
(Arch Intern Med 1982;142:101-105)