Phototherapy of uremic pruritus

L. Gnecchi, M. Caccialanza, R. Piccinno, M. V. Beretta

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Probably because of its multifactorial pathogenesis uremic pruritus still remains not only a clinical, but also a therapeutic problem, among the other symptoms of chronic uremia. Some data from literature report a favorable therapeutic effect exerted by ultraviolet radiation, that requires further studies. Thus, it seemed suitable to report the experience of phototherapy of uremic pruritus by means of a retrospective study of 14 cases. The 14 patients (10 male, 4 female) had been affected by chronic renal failure for a period of time ranging from 1 to 23 years; thirteen of them were dialyzed and the symptom pruritus, diffuse all over the skin surface, was resistant to all the traditional treatments. The ultraviolet light sources employed had an emission spectrum in both the UVB and UVA range. Two or three sessions were performed weekly. On the whole 184 sessions were effected (mean 13.19 sessions for each patient). The total doses of ultraviolet radiation administered ranged from 3.4 to 31.2 J/cm2 (mean total dose: 15.88 J/cm2). A complete remission of itching was obtained in 3 cases (21.42%), a decrease of about 50-90% in 8 cases (57.14%) and a relief of about 20-40% in the other 3 cases (21.42%). The antipruritic effect was reached after a mean of 10.57 sessions of phototherapy. The evolution of uremic pruritus has been followed in 8 patients for a period of 1-24 months (mean 14.25 months) from the end of phototherapy: till now pruritus has recurred in 2 cases, respectively after 3 and 17 months from the end of the treatment. This therapy was free from side effects. These results corroborate the therapeutic effectiveness of the phototherapy in the management of uremic pruritus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-68
Number of pages4
JournalGiornale Italiano di Dermatologia e Venereologia
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • phototherapy
  • pruritus, uremic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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