Neuropathic Pruritus: An Underrecognized and Often Misdiagnosed and Difficult to Treat Medical Condition

Akarsu S.

in: Rare Diseases - Recent Advances, John Kanayochukwu Nduka,Sevgi Akarsu, Editor, IntechOpen , London, pp.1-146, 2023

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Vocational Book
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Publisher: IntechOpen
  • City: London
  • Page Numbers: pp.1-146
  • Editors: John Kanayochukwu Nduka,Sevgi Akarsu, Editor
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


It is estimated that approximately 8% of chronic pruritic cases are of neuropathic origin. Common neuropathic pruritic syndromes include different clinical presentations such as postherpetic pruritus, trigeminal trophic syndrome, anogenital pruritus, scalp dysesthesia, nerve compression syndromes (e.g., notalgia paresthetica, brachioradial pruritus), small-fiber neuropathy (secondary to various metabolic, infectious, autoimmune, and genetic diseases), and disorders affecting the central nervous system (occupying lesions, iatrogenic, infectious, neurodegenerative, or demyelinating diseases). Although general practitioners are most likely to see the itchy cases first and consider referring them to further medical advice, it would be a better approach for the physicians to cooperate with dermatologists and neurologists and physiotherapists in particular especially in chronic persistent itchy conditions. Neuropathic pruritus must first be differentiated from other possible etiologies of pruritus by medical history and physical examination, laboratory tests, skin biopsy, and radiological and functional evaluations. It often does not respond to classical antipruritic treatments and different treatment options such as neuroleptics, topical capsaicin, epidural steroid injections, botulinum injections, nerve blocks, and neurostimulation techniques have been tried with variable success responses. This chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the characteristics and clinical presentations of neuropathic pruritus and the diagnostic and therapeutic management used in such patients.