Cutaneous dysesthesia syndrome is a disorder characterized by chronic cutaneous symptoms without objective findings. Patients complain of burning, stinging, or itching, which is often triggered or exacerbated by psychological or physical stress. These symptoms may be manifestations of an underlying psychiatric disorder or may represent a type of chronic pain syndrome.
Eleven women presented with chronic severe pain and/or pruritus of the scalp only without objective physical findings, a condition we term "scalp dysesthesia." Five women described pain, stinging, or burning only; 4 women complained of pain and pruritus; and 2 women reported pruritus only. The patients ranged in age from 36 to 70 years. The duration of symptoms ranged from 9 months to 7 years. Five women had physician-diagnosed psychiatric disorders, including dysthymic disorder, generalized anxiety, and somatization. Seven women reported that stress triggers or exacerbates their symptoms. Eight women experienced improvement or complete resolution of symptoms with treatment with low-dose doxepin hydrochloride or amitriptyline hydrochloride. One patient responded completely to treatment with sertraline and hydroxyzine hydrochloride but then experienced a relapse.
We describe 11 patients with a new syndrome that we term scalp dysesthesia. Of 11 patients, 9 benefited from treatment with low doses of antidepressants.