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Pediatr Dermatol. 2018 Sep;35(5):560-565. doi: 10.1111/pde.13562. Epub 2018 Jun 26.

Itching at night: A review on reducing nocturnal pruritus in children.

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Department of Dermatology, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA.


The most common causes of chronic nocturnal itching in children are atopic dermatitis and psoriasis, with lichen simplex chronicus and prurigo nodularis contributing to lesser degrees. Despite the prevalence of nocturnal itching, its pathophysiology remains poorly understood. The most troubling consequence of itching at night is poor quality of sleep. Poor sleep quality in children with nocturnal itching has been linked to adverse neurocognitive, behavioral, and physiologic outcomes, including poor performance in school, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, short stature, hypertension, obesity, and impaired immune function. There is no consensus on the best management of nocturnal itching in children. We conducted a review of the literature evaluating the efficacy of various treatment options for children with chronic nocturnal pruritus. Our review found three recently conducted randomized controlled trials and one case report demonstrating the efficacy of topical corticosteroids, oral melatonin, and clonidine in reducing nocturnal itching or improving sleep quality in children with nocturnal pruritus. Future research is needed to elucidate the pathophysiology of nocturnal itching to best develop targeted, effective treatment strategies.


children; itch; management; night; nocturnal; pediatric; pruritus; therapy; treatment

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