Pruritus is an itching or uncomfortable sensation due to irritation of the peripheral sensory nerves, usually caused by inflammatory chemicals being produced from surrounding cells due to infection or external irritation.

Other common causes include a cold climate, particularly the dry, cold conditions caused by air conditioning. Pruritus senilis is triggered in the elderly by a lack of sebum (the body’s skin oil). Pruritus vulvae is an intense or mild itching of the vulva and vagina.

The causes may be chemical irritation, mild infections such as thrush (Candida) or a contact dermatitis. If left unattended, secondary infection from bacteria may evolve, which will lead to damage of the skin and, in the case of the vulva, possible malignancy.


Treatment is dependent upon the cause being removed.

Application of a Calendula or Urtica cream may be curative in pruritus ani or vulvae.

Pruritus senilis may benefit from increased levels of EPA or fish oils and the levels should be determined by consultation with a nutritionist because digestive processes may be troubled in some cases.