What Is Prurigo Simplex?

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  • Written By: R. Bargar
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2019
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Prurigo simplex is a pruritus disorder of the skin characterized by extremely itchy skin nodules and lesions. Typically, there is no known direct cause of prurigo simplex, but some factors are known to trigger or aggravate it. This condition falls between chronic and acute, sometimes transitioning into a chronic condition. Many people experience a recurrence of the condition after periods of remission. Middle-aged patients are the most prone age group to this condition.

The most common prurigo simplex symptoms are skin nodules resembling insect bites that are intensely itchy. These nodules are frequently scratched open, becoming lesions that continue to itch. Sometimes the skin thickens and becomes discolored around the nodules. The scalp, arms, legs and trunk of the body are the most frequent sites of the bumps and lesions. Itching can become severe and habitual, worsening the condition and possibly causing infections in the open sores.

Sometimes the nodules become less itchy and eventually disappear leaving a discolored area or scar tissue. The same nodules can persist for months or even years, though, without healing. Patients may experience a remission but then relapse with new nodules forming. The condition might also become chronic, with no periods of improvement and relief.


Although the exact causes of prurigo simplex have not been determined, it is believed that there are many aggravating factors that can trigger the condition. Extremes of cold, heat or sunlight are factors in some cases. Food, drug and other allergies may trigger prurigo simplex. The condition also seems to be triggered or aggravated by emotional stress. Chronic infections such as sinusitis and endocrine or metabolic disorders may also play a role.

Prurigo simplex treatment is sometimes difficult, as common treatments for other skin conditions are not always effective. Corticosteriod creams and ultraviolet light treatments sometimes work. One promising treatment is psoralen photochemotherapy in the form of foil bath psoralen ultraviolet A (PUVA). The patient is bathed in a psoralen solution then exposed to ultraviolet A radiation in a series of treatments. Psoralen is a plant-derived compound that makes the cells more sensitive to the effects of ultraviolet light.

Additional prurigo simplex treatments include steroid injections in the nodules, as well as antihistamines and tranquilizers. Patients are advised to avoid strong sunlight, temperature extremes, and activities that cause the body to overheat. If emotional stress is one of the triggers, learning to manage stress may help alleviate the symptoms. Determining if allergies contribute to the problem, then avoiding the allergen might result in improvement of prurigo simplex.


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Post 5

My nephew has this and is triggered when he eats seafood. See if you are allergic to any food and avoid it.

Post 4

I have this. It started on my face. I tried many things that didn't work. I had some Proactive, tried it and it does work. I always had about four or five on my face and Proactive keeps it clear, but it went to my shoulders and legs. At least I can cover them up with clothes. If I miss one night of Proactive I get another on my face. Hope this works for you.

Post 3

I have this too. I just finished a course of antibiotics for it which helped a little bit but it's still not cured. I've found that cleaning the lesions with warm salt water relieves the itching.

Post 2

@ZipLine-- I'm very sorry to hear that. If it makes you feel better, you're not the only one. There are many people dealing with this condition.

My sister-in-law also has it and like you, she has tried many different treatments. The only thing that has made a difference for her is a low-histamine diet. Ever since she started eating this way, she has been getting less and less nodules. You should look into it.

Post 1

This has to be one of the worst skin conditions to happen to someone. I developed prurigo simplex about three years ago and I've been miserable since. I've been to four different doctors and none have been able to find a treatment that gave me relief from my symptoms.

I have nodules and lesions everywhere. I've tried many oral medications and creams including antibiotics and steroids. Nothing works. I still have lesions and I'm still itching.

My social life also ended along with this condition because I'm always uncomfortable and I have to hide my skin.

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