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.