Senile Pruritus: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Pruritus is not a type of skin disease. Rather, it is a symptom of a skin problem such as eczema, psoriasis and dermatitis (although it may occur on its own, too) and it refers to severe itching of the skin. Just about anyone can experience pruritus. Pruritus that affects the elderly is referred to by skin specialists as senile pruritus.

The good news is senile pruritus is something that can be easily managed at home. There are also various topically used treatments for it that a dermatologist may recommend. It’s important to deal with senile pruritus effectively in order to fend off complications, such as secondary infections brought about by breaks in the skin due to scratching.

If you are interested to know more about senile pruritus, just keep on reading this article. Below you will come across its causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment. Kindly share this article on social media later on to get everyone you care about also get acquainted with this symptom concerning the skin.


To date, no one really knows why a lot of older adults suffer from senile pruritus. However, it’s something that can definitely be encountered by the elderly if he or she is suffering from a certain type of skin disease or condition, especially the kind that’s chronic and notorious for causing skin itching.

According to skin experts, senile pruritus is commonly seen in individuals who are 70 years of age and older. No specific gender, ethnicity and skin color is considered as risk factors for it. So in other words, just about any elderly on the face of the planet can suffer from senile pruritus.

By the way, dermatologists also sometimes call senile pruritus as pruritus in the elderly or idiopathic itch in the elderly. In some instances it is also referred to as Willan’s itch, named after the dermatologist who first described senile pruritus, and that’s Dr. Robert Willan.

Signs and Symptoms

Because senile pruritus can be brought about by different skin conditions, timing is important in order for it to be diagnosed properly. That’s because various skin conditions that can cause severe itching appear only when triggered or aggravated, and it is what’s referred to as a flare up.

Definitely, a classic sign of senile pruritus is severe itching of the skin. It is also usually the chronic kind, which means that it is being experienced by the elderly complaining about it for a long time already. Skin on just about any part of the individual’s body can be affected.

Because of the itchiness that it’s known to bring, senile pruritus can leave red marks or wounds on the skin because of scratching. It’s not unlikely for the affected areas of the skin to also appear scaly. Scar development may form, too, which can cause depression and social isolation to come into being.


In dealing with senile pruritus, it’s important to identify the underlying cause. In other words, the skin specialist first needs to determine the skin condition that can be blamed for such. Once pinned down, the appropriate treatment course for senile pruritus can be planned and administered.

Mild senile pruritus can be kept from striking by using soaps and other personal care products that do not contain harsh ingredients that can cause irritation of the skin. There are various OTC remedies for skin itching that may be purchased and applied on affected areas of the skin as needed.

In some instances, the intake of oral medications that can help reduce inflammation, such as those with steroids, may be prescribed. Antihistamines are commonly recommended drugs, too. A dermatologist may suggest light therapy that involves exposure of the affected skin areas to UV rays.

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