Pruritus is the most common dermatological complaint in elderly people and may have a significant negative influence on quality of life.
In elderly, the identification of the underlying cause of pruritus can be difficult, due to the broad differential diagnosis and the frequent occurence of comorbidities and polypharmacy.
In daily practice, a classification can be used of ‘pruritus with primary skin lesions’ and ‘pruritus without primary skin lesions’ for a more specific search to the underlying cause.
The most common cause of pruritus in elderly is dry skin (xerosis). In primary care pruritis is more often caused by a dermatosis and systemic causes are more rare.
Besides treatment directed at the underlying cause, it is recommended in elderly to always treat xerosis with topical emollients.
Topical therapy consists of corticosteroids, anaesthetics and anti-inflammatory agents. Systemic treatments include antihistamines, antidepressants and neuroactive medications.
Conflict of interest and financial support: none declared.