What is pruritus?
Pruritus is itching of the skin when you are jaundiced. The itch is caused by a build up of bile salts in the blood when the bile ducts are blocked or the liver is not working properly. This can also make the skin feel hot and uncomfortable.
How can the itch be treated?
The most effective way to relieve the symptoms of pruritus is to treat the underlying cause of the jaundice.
Jaundice caused by a tumour blocking the tubes that drain bile from the liver and gall bladder into the bowel (obstructive jaundice) can be treated in several ways:
- Insertion of a plastic or metal stent in the bile duct
- Surgery to remove the tumour
- Surgical bypass of the blockage
Other ways of relieving pruritus while these treatments take effect may include:
- Using an antihistamine medication ( e.g. Piriton)
- A medicine called Cholestyramine (this may help the body excrete excess bile salts)
- Frequent skin care.
- Keeping skin cool and moist.
- Using an aqueous(moisturising) skin cream, applied liberally to the affected areas to keep skin moist
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