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Itchy Skin Common Alongside Kidney Disease

THURSDAY, April 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Itchy skin can make you miserable. And it's a common problem for many people with chronic kidney disease, even those not on dialysis, a new study finds.

"One of the main goals of managing chronic disease is alleviating symptoms; however, this is only possible when we are aware of the suffering patients endure," said study author Dr. Nidhi Sukul, a nephrologist from the University of Michigan.

The study included more than 3,700 patients with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease who were not on dialysis. It included people from the United States, Brazil and France.

Overall, nearly one-quarter had bothersome itchy skin (pruritus). It was more common among older patients, women, those with more advanced kidney disease, and those with lung disease, diabetes and depression.

Patients with itchy skin reported worse mental and physical quality of life. They were also more likely to have sleep problems and depression. The more extreme their itching, the worse these problems.

The study results appear in the April 11 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

"This research gives us a uniquely international look at how important it is to ask our patients with chronic kidney disease if and how they are affected by pruritus," Sukul said in a journal news release.

She said some drugs have been shown to improve pruritus-related symptoms for a substantial percentage of patients.

"But even if we do not have a universally effective treatment for pruritus, recognizing that pruritus ails our patients and affects their quality of life will make them feel heard and enhance the patient-physician relationship in discussing approaches that may help provide relief," Sukul added.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more on itchy skin (pruritus).

SOURCE: Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, news release, April 11, 2019

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