European Journal of Dermatology


Characterization of chronic itch in college students in China Volume 32, numéro 1, January-February 2022

1 Department of Dermatology; Hunan Engineering Research Center of Skin Health and Disease; Hunan Key Laboratory of Skin Cancer and Psoriasis, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha, China
2 Department of Dermatology, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
3 Department of Dermatology, People’s Hospital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Urumchi, Xinjiang, China
4 Department of Dermatology, Xiang’an Hospital, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
5 Department of Dermatology, Zhongshan Hospital, Xiamen University, Xiamen, China
6 Department of Dermatology, The Affiliated People’s Hospital of Inner Mongolia Medical University, Hohhot, China
7 Department of Social Medicine and Health Management, Xiangya School of Public Health, Central South University, Changsha, China
a These authors contributed equally
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Background: Chronic itch affects a wide range of individuals and has a noticeable influence on human health. However, epidemiological characteristics of chronic itch have not yet been adequately addressed. Objectives: To investigate the prevalence and associated factors for chronic itch. Materials & Methods: This was a cross-sectional study of first-year students in five universities in different regions of China. Chronic itch was defined as moderate-to-severe itch for more than six weeks. Social and behavioural factors were measured through an online questionnaire survey. Environmental factors including humidity, temperature and levels of air pollutants at district/county level were obtained from public datasets. Generalized linear-mixed models were used to fit multi-level data. Results: A total of 27,144 students were enrolled to the universities and 18,360 subjects who completed the survey were included in the final analysis. The mean age of participants was 18.3 ± 0.8 years, and 51.1% were women. The point prevalence of chronic itch was 16.9%. Chronic itch was associated with female sex (OR = 0.78, p < 0.001) and was inversely associated with higher parental educational levels. With respect to environmental factors, chronic itch was significantly associated with relative humidity (OR = 1.01, p = 0.02), temperature (OR = 1.03, p<0.001) and O3 (OR = 0.91, p < 0.001). Regarding behavioural factors, chronic itch was significantly associated with smoking, exposure to second-hand smoke, drinking alcohol, less physical activity, intake of pepper, preference for spicy food, bathing (temperature, frequency, and duration) and sunscreen. Conclusion: Chronic itch affects a substantial proportion of Chinese college students, and is attributable to demographic, dermatological, environmental and behavioural factors.