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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 17-23

Review of management of pruritus in palliative care

1 Department of Palliative Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh; Centre for Postgraduate Studies in Family Medicine, Ministry of Health, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Palliative Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sami Ayed Alshammary
Department of Palliative Medicine, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh
Saudi Arabia
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DOI: 10.4103/1658-600X.173844

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Pruritus or itch is an uncommon symptom observed in palliative care, even more uncommon in cancer patients. However, if a patient experiences pruritus, the 'itch-scratch' cycle can damage the skin integrity and can increase the susceptibility of patients to infection owing to their frail immune system. The outcome can be very distressing, dramatically impacting the quality-of-life of the patient. Moreover, since severe pruritus seen in patients with advanced disease can be associated with failure of different organ systems, pruritus must be assessed based on the underlying organ systems and the pathophysiology involved. Regardless of the cause of pruritus, general skin care is important. Depending on the origin of pruritus, specific approach and medications must be considered. Caution must be taken during management of pruritus since most cancer patients take pain medications that interact with some antipruritic medications. In addition to the complex and unclear nature of cutaneous and central pathogenesis of pruritus, treatment of pruritus is challenging.

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