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Pruritus in Burns: Review Article

Goutos, Ioannis BSc(Hons), MBBS(Hons), MRCSEd*; Dziewulski, Peter FRCS, FRCS(Plast)†; Richardson, Patricia M. MRCP, FRCA‡

doi: 10.1097/BCR.0b013e318198a2fa
Summary Articles

Pruritus represents a common and distressing feature of burn wounds. Over the last decades, significant advances in neuroanatomical and neurophysiological knowledge have resulted in the elucidation of the mediators and pathways involved in the transmission of pruritic impulses. A plethora of therapeutic approaches have been evaluated mostly in small-scale studies involving burns patients targeting both the peripheral and the central components of the neurologic pathway. Antihistamines, doxepin, massage therapy, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation are effective strategies to combat pruritus in burns patients. Recent studies have provided preliminary evidence regarding the effectiveness of gabapentin and ondansetron. The area of burns pruritus is under-researched and large-scale studies are required to reinforce the armamentarium of specialists with evidence-based regimens for the treatment of this highly distressing symptom.

From the *Plastic Surgery Department, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom; †St. Andrew's Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns, East Wing, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, United Kingdom; and ‡Department of Anaesthesia, St. Andrew's Centre for Plastic Surgery and Burns, East Wing, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, United Kingdom.

Address correspondence to Ioannis Goutos, BSc(Hons), MBBS(Hons), MRCSEd, Plastic Surgery Department, Stoke Mandeville Hospital, Mandeville Road, Buckinghamshire, HP21 8AL, United Kingdom.

© 2009 The American Burn Association