Diabetes and pruritus


  • Parastoo Babakinejad Department of Dermatology, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, UK
  • Shernaz Walton Department of Dermatology, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Hull York Medical School, Hull, UK




pruritus, diabetes, neuropathy, autonomic dysfunction, excoriations, lichenification, candidiasis, emollients, antipruritics, ultraviolet therapy


Pruritus is often reported to be associated with diabetes mellitus although this remains controversial. Careful history-taking and examination are key to establishing the cause of itching in a patient with diabetes after excluding local cutaneous disease or an underlying lymphoma. Options for management of this distressing condition include emollients, topical antipruritic agents (e.g. calamine, menthol, capsaicin, corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors or local anaesthetics), systemic antipruritic agents (e.g. H1 antihistamines, doxepin and gabapentin), broad-band or narrowband ultraviolet B phototherapy and psychological therapies.


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