Background Generalized idiopathic pruritus is a rarely studied heterogeneous condition, where patients with non-inflamed, non-pathologic skin complain of widespread pruritus.
Methods We had administered a detailed pruritus questionnaire, based on the short form of the McGill pain questionnaire, on 75 patients with this condition.
Results All 75 patients recruited with generalized idiopathic pruritus completed the questionnaire. In 92% of the patients, pruritus appeared on a daily basis. Most patients experienced pruritus at night (56%) and in the evening (61%) and 69% had difficulty falling asleep. Pruritus mainly involved the legs (79%), arms (76%) and back (68%). Accompanying symptoms were heat sensation (17%) and pain (13%). 80% had been prescribed antihistamines, of whom 56% obtained short-term relief. The sensation of itch has been reported to be crawling (33%), tickling (20%), stinging (19%) and burning (19%). Patients also reported that the itch was unbearable (73%), bothersome (72%), annoying (67%) and worrisome (45%). The worst-state VAS scores were significantly higher in patients who reported agitation (P = 0.006), difficulty in concentration (P= 0.010) and anxiety (P= 0.033).
Conclusion This study describes the sensory and affective dimensions of generalized idiopathic pruritus, and this questionnaire has been found to be a useful tool for evaluating pruritus in this condition.