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Pruritus (PDQ®)

Patient Version
Last Modified: 02/05/2014

General Information About Pruritus

Pruritus is an itchy feeling that makes you want to scratch your skin. It may occur without a rash or skin lesions. It's a symptom of a condition or disease. Pruritus can be caused by cancer, cancer treatments, and conditions related to cancer. It also may be caused by an infection, dry skin, reaction to a drug, or a disease or condition that is not cancer.

The skin is the largest organ of the body. The most important job of skin is to protect against heat, sunlight, injury, and infection. The skin is also important to self-image and your ability to touch and be touched.

Pruritus can be very uncomfortable and scratching may cause breaks in the skin, bleeding, and infection. If your skin feels itchy, let your doctor know so it can be treated and relieved.