Blog post

'Itchy skin and kidney disease: Understanding chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus (CKD-aP)' webinar with Dr. Shayan Shirazian

Dr. Shayan Shirazian, a nephrologist at Columbia University Medical Center, joined AKF for a webinar to discuss pruritus (itchy skin) and ways to manage it.
Four outlines of a person showing where itchiness may occur throughout the body

Chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus (CKD-aP), also known as itchy skin, is a common, often-irritating symptom for people with chronic kidney disease, especially those on dialysis. Why does it happen, and what can you do about it? Dr. Shayan Shirazian, a nephrologist at Columbia University Medical Center, joined us for a webinar to help answer these questions, discussing itchy skin and ways to manage it.

Pruritus is very itchy skin caused by a long-term disease, such as chronic kidney disease (CKD). The itchy feeling can be troubling and, in some cases, a debilitating problem for people living with kidney disease or kidney failure. The itchiness can be so constant and uncomfortable that it may disrupt your sleep, affect your mental health and impact your overall quality of life. Pruritus tends to be more common among people who are receiving dialysis treatments.

Before the webinar, we asked Dr. Shirazian what he thinks are the two most important recommendations he has for people who suffer from itchy skin. Here's what he told us:

  • If you are experiencing itching that is affecting your life, please tell your doctor.
  • Avoid scratching at itchy skin, which can make the itch worse, damage your skin or make it infected.

Here are some other key takeaways covered by Dr. Shirazian during the webinar:

What is itchy skin and how to identify it

Itchy skin is medically known as "Chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus (CKD-aP)." It looks different for different people. For example, itchy skin could appear as tiny bumps for some people or could look like a rash for others. Additionally, people experience itchy skin on different areas of their body.

CKD-aP often goes untreated

CKD-aP is often undertreated for two reasons. First, people often do not report itchy skin to their care team. Second, healthcare providers have underestimated how common and impactful this condition is.

There are options to manage itchy skin

If you are living with kidney disease or kidney failure, talk to your healthcare provider to see if it could be CKD-aP and what treatment may work best for you. You may have to try different itchy skin management methods until you find the one(s) that work best for you.

Don't give up

If you suffer from CKD-aP, the good news is that you are not alone. There are resources to help you cope in healthy ways. Learn more about where to go for support.

Watch the full "Itchy skin and kidney disease" webinarto learn more about pruritus signs and symptoms, treating itchy skin while on dialysis and speaking to your healthcare team, loved ones and caregivers about pruritus.


Stephanie Olebara

Stephanie Olebara is a public education specialist at the American Kidney Fund.