The facts behind psoriasis itch and scratching

The importance of resisting the urge to itch

Research shows that the vast majority of people living with psoriasis say that they experience itchiness as part of their condition. For most people, the constant urge to itch can be the most frustrating and debilitating symptom associated with psoriasis.

Itching, also known as pruritus, is a sensation that causes an almost irresistible urge to scratch. It can be triggered by any number of causes, including inflammatory skin conditions or other general illnesses.

When skin becomes inflamed, your body releases a number of chemicals in the skin that can cause it to itch. Dryness can also cause your skin to become itchy.

When you scratch wounded skin, you stop it from getting better.

Severity can vary

In people with psoriasis the extent of itching or irritation can range from mild to severe, depending on how badly your skin is affected. For some, the itchiness is confined to a single area of skin, while for others the whole body can be affected.

Similarly, the degree of itchiness can vary greatly. Where some people only experience moderate itching, others report severe irritation which causes them to scratch until they bleed.

Nevertheless, while scratching may bring temporary relief, the fact is that scratching intensely can damage your skin and worsen your psoriasis.

Resist the urge to scratch

While scratching doesn't actually make psoriasis spread, it does interfere with the healing process. When you scratch wounded skin, you stop it from getting better. So, if you want to improve your symptoms, it's very important that you try to ease the irritation that makes you want to scratch.

If the urge to scratch is bothering you, make sure you share your concerns with your doctor; explaining where it itches, how long the itching lasts, how intense it is and what you currently do to try to relieve it.

UK/IE 2013b/00075, Date of prep: April 2015

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