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Schmerz. 2011 Apr;25(2):207-18; quiz 219-20. doi: 10.1007/s00482-010-0977-0.

[Comparative psychological aspects of itching and pain].

[Article in German]

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Psychotherapeutische Hochschulambulanz Verhaltenstherapie, Fachbereich Psychologie, Universität Hamburg.


Itching is a major symptom of chronic skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis and leads to considerable psychological strain. Chronic itching lowers patient's quality of life similar to chronic pain and influences the medical treatment. The frequently resulting scratching behavior (short-term avoidance of itch) leads to continuation and exacerbation of the disease, just as with specific pain behavior. For the development of itching and pain psychosocial factors have been identified in addition to somatic ones. However, recent data suggest that there is a complex interaction between pain and itching and comparable mechanisms of neuronal sensitization. In contrast to traditional biomedical one-dimensional models which focus mainly on physical and not psychological factors of a disease, recent data support a biopsychosocial model of development and maintenance for itching and pain. Biopsychosocial understanding of a disease should consequently be taken as the basis for treatment and the importance of interdisciplinary treatment is emphasized. This article will focus on chronic itching and pain with particular consideration of psychological factors.

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