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Pruritus is a common and significant symptom of acne


*Corresponding author, Department of Dermatology, National Skin Centre, Mandalay Road, Singapore 308205, tel. +656 253 4455; fax +656 2533 225; E-mail:


Background  Acne is a common condition in both adolescents and adults. Characteristics of acne are well described, but itch is rarely mentioned as a clinical feature. Pruritus could be a significant contributory factor to the burden of disability in patients with acne.

Objective  We examine the prevalence of pruritus and its clinical attributes in patients with acne in an outpatient clinic.

Study design  Descriptive study over a 15 month period from October 2005 to December 2006.

Patients and methods  120 consecutive patients with acne attending an outpatient clinic at National Skin Centre, Singapore were recruited. Pruritus was evaluated using a validated questionnaire. Severity of acne was determined using FDA Global Acne Grading.

Results  84 patients (70%) reported itch in acne. Patients who experienced itch in acne tended to be slightly older (p = 0.05). Majority of patients (83%) reported itch at noon and most experienced itch on a transient nature. The most common descriptor of itch was tickling (68%). Severity of pruritus in acne was comparable to mosquito-bite and it significantly affected patients’ mood (55%). Common aggravating factors for the pruritus were sweat (71%), heat (62%) and stress (31%). A significant proportion of patients with itch (52%) had scratched or rubbed the affected area while 37% would wash the area to find relief.

Conclusion  Our results suggest that itch is a common and significant symptom in acne. Acne patients experienced considerable disability due to the associated pruritus.