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The intense, chronic itching

pruritic, adjective

Of, pertaining to, or characterized by pruritus


Pruritus is a Latin term for itch. It is associated with scratch reflex that incites the desire to rub or scratch the affected skin area. Scratching provides relief from the itch sensation; it is a means to remove the cause of itch, particularly an object or an insect on one's skin causing the sensation. The frontal brain areas of reward and decision making may be associated with the compulsive tendency to scratch.1 There are various factors that leads to pruritus. One of these factors is the presence of a foreign agent. The skin in contact with insects and parasites for instance can stimulate the scratch reflex. Scratching is a natural means of the body to remove the irritant. Infectious agents (e.g. Varicella causing chickenpox) and allergens (e.g. chemicals from food, fragrances, and plants) may also cause pruritus to the skin affected. Dermatologic disorders, such as eczema, dandruff, scar growth, psoriasis, athlete's foot, etc. may also cause pruritus.

Word origin: Latin prūrītus ‎(“itch, itching”), from prūriō ‎(“itch”)

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1 Ikoma, A., Steinhoff, M., Ständer, S., Yosipovitch, G., and Schmelz, M. (2006). "The neurobiology of itch". Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 7 (7): 535–47.