PRP Alliance

Relationship Between Itch and Mental Health

Editor’s Note — Murray Rose recently posted an article to the PRP Facebook Support Group. Itch and Mental Health in Dermatological Patients across Europe: A Cross-Sectional Study in 13 Countries, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, September 3, 2019

Most of the article goes well beyond what a PRP patient without medical training can understand. The following, however, may be digestible. 


(1)  The increased prevalence of mental health problems in dermatological patients has been documented previously for single diseases and in clinical samples. In this study, this association is demonstrated in a large sample of dermatological outpatients, and it is shown that the association between mental health problems and skin disease is even stronger if the skin disease is itchy.

(2)   Depression and suicidal ideation showed a strong association with the presence of itch in dermatological patients compared with patients without itch. This suggests that mental health problems in patients with skin diseases are greatly related to itch.

(3)  The reported occurrence of stressful life events was higher in individuals with itch than in those without itch.

(4)  Our results show that in patients with itchy skin diseases, health-related quality of life was more impaired than in dermatological patients without itch and healthy controls.

(5)  This finding is in accordance with that of several studies investigating single skin diseases.

(6)  Patients with itchy skin diseases  carry a disease burden similar to patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes.

(7)  The presence of itch in dermatological patients is significantly associated with clinical depression, suicidal ideation, and stress.

(8)  The study reveals that itch contributes substantially to the psychological burden of dermatological patients and confirms the multidimensional suffering of dermatological patients with itch.

(9)  The management of patients with itch should involve access to a multidisciplinary team when necessary. Additionally, preventive programs might also be useful, such as psoriasis education programs or targeted Web-based information.

(10)  In many chronic inflammatory skin disorders, early aggressive treatment tailored specifically for the patient might help to reduce itch at this earliest possible opportunity and prevent the development of mental health problems

(11)  Anti-itch interventions that are already developed should be implemented more frequently into the routine care of those patients

(12)  The association between depression and suicidal ideas was significant only for the presence of itch, not for chronicity and intensity.

(13)  Depression was significantly associated with itch severity.