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Abstract

Objective

There are no studies of pruritus prevalence or clinical correlates in systemic sclerosis (SSc). The objectives of this study were to document the proportion of SSc patients with pruritus on most days, to determine when in the course of the disease pruritus is most prevalent, and to identify clinical correlates.

Methods

We performed a cross-sectional, multicenter study of 400 SSc patients from the Canadian Scleroderma Research Group Registry ≥1 year after Registry enrollment. Patients indicated whether they experienced pruritus during the past month on most days and underwent clinical histories and medical examinations. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess the association between sociodemographic and clinical variables and pruritus.

Results

A total of 179 patients (45%) reported pruritus on most days, including 69% (11 of 16) among patients 1.0–1.9 years from onset of non-Raynaud's symptoms, 41% (38 of 93) for 2.0–4.9 years, 47% (44 of 94) for 5.0–9.9 years, 43% (60 of 140) for 10.0–19.9 years, and 46% (26 of 57) for ≥20 years. In post hoc analysis, patients 1.0–1.9 years from disease onset were significantly more likely to report pruritus (P = 0.049). Patients with pruritus had significantly more skin involvement (P = 0.029), more gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (P < 0.001), worse breathing problems (P = 0.001), worse Raynaud's symptoms (P = 0.002), and more severe finger ulcers (P = 0.009). Only the number of GI symptoms predicted pruritus in multiple logistic regression analysis (odds ratio 1.25, 95% confidence interval 1.13–1.37; P < 0.001).

Conclusion

Pruritus is common in SSc and is independently associated with GI symptoms. Focused research on sources of pruritus and its management in SSc is needed.