1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pruritus

PRURITUS, an ailment characterized by intense itching of the surface of the body. It may occur in connexion with other morbid conditions, such as jaundice, diabetes, digestive disorders, &c., or as the result of the irritation produced by skin parasites. The most serious form is pruritus senilis, which affects old persons, and is often a cause of great suffering, depriving the patient of sleep. In such cases it is probably due to atrophic changes in the skin. No eruption is visible, except such marks as are produced by scratching. The treatment consists in the removal of any apparent cause, and measures to strengthen the system, such as the use of quinine, iron, &c. Soothing lotions composed of solutions of alkalis conjoined with chloral, opium, hydrocyanic acid, &c., may be applied to the affected skin at bedtime.