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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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Aquagenic pruritus

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Your Question

I have aquagenic pruritus. I recently changed my diet to a diet very low in sugar and high in salt. Within the first week I noticed an extreme improvement, and now after 4 weeks I have actually forgotten that I had aquagenic pruritis. Is anything known regarding this diet and aquagenic pruritis?

Our Answer

We have identified the following information that we hope you find helpful. If you still have questions, please contact us.

Have dietary changes to salt and sugar intake been investigated as a possible treatment option for aquagenic puritis?

No. A type of inorganic salt, sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, has long been added to bath water as a treatment for aquagenic puritis.[1] In addition, there have been articles which note an association between aquagenic puritis and intolerance to the sugar lactose in some affected individuals and families, however we were not able to find research studies or articles regarding dietary modifications to salt and sugar intake as treatment for aquagenic puritis. In addition the role, if any, that lactose intolerance plays in aquagenic puritis is not known.[2][3]

One challenge to treatment, is that the cause of aquagenic puritis is not well understood and is thought to differ among people with this condition. This impacts how people respond to treatment. There is a study titled Pathogenesis of Physical Induced Urticarial Syndromes that is being conducted at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that may be of interest to you. Findings from this study may aid in the understanding of aquagenic puritis and its treatment. To learn more, click on the title above.

We strongly recommend that questions regarding aquagenic puritis treatment be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Last updated: 10/7/2013

  • Wolf R, Krakowski A. Variations in aquagenic pruritus and treatment alternatives. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1988 May;18(5 Pt 1):1081-3;
  • Treudler R, Tebbe B, Steinhoff M, Orfanos CE. Familial aquagenic urticaria associated with familial lactose intolerance. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Oct;47(4):611-3;
  • Heitkemper T, Hofmann T, Phan NQ, Ständer S. Aquagenic pruritus: associated diseases and clinical pruritus characteristics. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2010 Oct;8(10):797-804;