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

Emily Boozalis, Anna L. Grossberg, Katherine B. Püttgen, Bernard A. Cohen, Shawn G. Kwatra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-565
Number of pages6
JournalPediatric Dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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