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Aquagenic pruritus

Aquagenic pruritus
Classification & external resources
ICD-10 L29.8 (ILDS L29.83)

Aquagenic pruritus is a skin disease characterized by the development of severe, prickling-like epidermal itching that is without observable skin lesions and that is evoked by contact with water at any temperature.

Symptoms can be felt immediately after contact with water or humid air and can persist for an hour or longer. Other triggers may be sweat or blowing air.

The disease seems to appear equally in both genders regardless of age. Aquagenic pruritus is sometimes a symptom of Primary Polycythemia or Polycythemia Vera.

This disease is not to be taken lightly since the intensity of the itch impedes normal activities, limits bathing, and very commonly leads to severe depression.



The name is derived from Latin: Aquagenic, meaning water-induced, and Pruritus, meaning itch.


Treatments can include applying capsaicin cream on the affected areas, and filtered Ultraviolet-B Phototherapy in a hospital or health clinic, often using a vertical light cubicle in which the patient stands for the exposure duration. Some people utilize tanning beds to accomplish such treatment, but skin cancer can become a concern for frequent tanning due to the broader UV spectrum of the beds.

Liberal applications of lanolin-free Aqueous cream, an emollient, on the affected areas after drying-off from a bath or shower can help to reduce the symptoms of the condition. Boots (The Chemist) UK supply such a product without presciption.

Since pruritus is sometimes believed to be a result of histamine, H1 and H2 blockers such as Claritin or Cimetidine may be helpful.

The symptoms may recur after each water exposure for years. Some sufferers control the itch by turning the shower water to hot for the last 5 minutes, and/or using heatpads or hairdryers on their skin immediately after showering. However, others find that excessive heat during bathing can actually worsen the pruritus, and limit the water temperature to tepid. The use of cotton clothes and bedding can prevent itch or provide relief to some sufferers.

See also


  • Steinman H, Greaves M (1985). "Aquagenic pruritus.". J Am Acad Dermatol 13 (1): 91-6. PMID 2411768.
  • SPO8 at FPnotebook
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Aquagenic_pruritus". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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