Gabapentin for Pruritus in Palliative Care

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Itch/pruritus can be very distressing in palliative care population and often is difficult to treat. Conventional antihistamines lack efficacy. Cutaneous and central pathogenesis of itch is extremely complex and unclear, making its treatment challenging. Neuronal mechanisms have been identified in the pathophysiology of itch hence providing a myriad of therapeutic options. It has been established that pruritus and pain neuronal pathway interact with each other, hence neuropathic analgesics like gabapentin has shown to be efficacious antipruritic therapeutic option. Gabapentin impedes transmitting nociceptive sensations to brain, thus also suppressing pruritus. Gabapentin is safe and found to be effective in uremic pruritus, cancer/hematologic causes, opiod-induced itch, brachioradial pruritis, burns pruritus, and pruritus of unknown origin. Further research is required in this area to establish whether gabapentin is consistently effective.