Validation of Scratching Severity as an Objective Assessment for Itch

Jeremy Udkoff, Jonathan I. Silverberg*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


There are currently no simple, standardized, objective assessments of itch for clinical trials and practice. We sought to validate and test the severity of scratching as an objective measure of itch (4-point ordinal scale ranging from 0 [not present] to 3 [very prominent] based on the observation of scratching lesions). We performed a prospective outpatient study using questionnaires and evaluations by a dermatologist in adults with atopic dermatitis (n = 261). Severity of scratching best correlated with patient-reported global atopic dermatitis severity (Kendall τ = 0.336, P < 0.0001), numeric rating scale of itch in the past 24 hours (τ = 0.266, P = 0.0010) and 3 days (τ = 0.296, P < 0.0001). Severity of scratching showed responsiveness over time. Patients experiencing improvement of scratching severity of 1 point or greater had significantly lower itch based on numeric rating scale in the past 3 days (Wilcoxon rank sum test, P = 0.0175), 5-D itch scale (P = 0.0146), and Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure scores (P = 0.0146). There was a significant decrease in scratching severity for patients experiencing itch improvement of 4 points or greater in the past 3 days on the numeric rating scale (Fisher exact test, P = 0.0026), Patient-Oriented Eczema Measure (P < 0.0001), and Dermatology Life Quality Index (P = 0.0285). Severity of scratching may be a useful endpoint in clinical trials and practice across the gamut of pruritic disorders. Future studies are needed to validate severity of scratching in other pruritic disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1062-1068
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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