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Senile Pruritus

Senile Pruritus

                                                                                                    ——ZOU YAN (SENIOR PHYSICIAN)


Senile Pruritus is a common condition of unknown cause affecting the skin. It is characterized by itching and scaly skin on the body. Clinically, it presents as rashless skin lesions and pigmentations from scratching. The itch often cannot be curbed until the skin breaks. Therefore, it is common to see scratch scars and scabs and often becomes worse at night, affecting the quality of sleep.



Modern medical studies indicated that senile pruritus is caused by skin dehydration, dryness and increased susceptibility to environmental risk factors due to reduced hormone levels, skin aging and shrinking and decreased sebaceous and sweat gland function. It often happens after bathing and before bed.



Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that senile pruritus is associated with dryness due to Yin and blood insufficiency with the elderly. Yin and blood deficiency leads to dryness, which leads to “wind” and induced itchiness. TCM treatment of this condition focuses on enhancing Qi, nourishing blood and attenuating “wind” to stop the itch. Commonly used herbs include astragalus, angelica, rehmannia and white peony root for blood and Qi nourishment; danshen root, figwort root and safflower for better blood flow and inflammation reduction; fineleaf schizonepeta herb and puncturevine caltrop fruit for attenuating “wind”. Studies have shown that Traditional Chinese Medicine has been an effective treatment towards such skin condition.




Patients should always stay positive. When itchiness occurs, try not to be anxious and avoid scratching them as it only worsen the condition. Choose moisturizing body wash and lotion to keep skin hydrated and moisturized. Choose cotton, clean, soft and loose fitting undergarments. Diet should include fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid shrimp, spicy and stimulating foods, including strong tea and coffee. Avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking are helpful to facilitate a speedy recovery.