Itch and pruritus: what are they, and how should itches be classified?


  • The introductory quotation and the following paragraph in this essay are taken nearly verbatim from the introduction to reference 2.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Jeffrey D. Bernhard, MD, FRCP, Edin, University of Massachusetts Medical School, 55 Lake Avenue North, Worcester, MA 01655, or email:


ABSTRACT:  Itch and pruritus are two terms for the same thing. In this essay I will argue that casting about for a distinction between them creates only confusion. Once that matter is settled, it is still necessary to come up with a clinical classification for itches of different types. No system yet proposed, including the one that will be suggested here, is perfect.