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Alcohol (OH) and the Skin – Pruritus (Itch) (For professionals)


  • It may appear up to 2 years before the onset of cirrhosis
  • 40% of alcohol abusers with liver disease are estimated to have severe pruritus
  • generalized but with predilection to extensor extremities, upper trunk, palms and soles
  • chemical mediators (Bile acids) are thought to directly depolarize nerve endings or release pruritogenic substances (histamine).
  • Treatment with bile acid-binding resins (cholestyramine) relieves the pruritus in 80% of cases, but malabsorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Also methyltestosterone or norethandrolone, UVA and UVB photoherapy. Phenobarbital (3mg/KG), intravenous albumin, extracorporeal photophoresis, diets rich in polyunsaturated acids.
  • Poor correlation with bile-levels/pruritus though.



Bibliography: Dermatologie et Infections Sexuellement Transmissibles, 4th Edition

Source of information: here