Management of post-burn itch

Ms Elizabeth Capell1

1Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia


Itch is a common complaint and debilitating symptom post-burn injury. Patients who reported itch experienced poorer physical and mental health compared to patients who did not experience itch (Tracy et al, 2020). Current literature suggests that both pharmacological and non-pharmacological management of itch is essential (Bell et al, 2009).

The aim of the project is to review the staff knowledge, confidence and management of post-burn itch.

40 Participants from Victorian Adult Burns Service (medical, allied health and nursing) completed a 10-question ‘Post-burn itch’ survey via ‘Survey Monkey’ between 30/3/2020 to 10/4/2020.

Of the 40 participants, 50% were allied health, 65% managed inpatients and 67.5% had >1 years working experience. 83% and 80% of the participants felt somewhat confident or less with treating and educating patients regarding post-burn itch, respectively.
For Non-pharmacological management of itch, 92% of participants were confident with moisturiser (colloidal oatmeal based),74% with soap free wash, 73% with compression, 69% massage and 71% with cooling. Less aware of silicone (31%) and psychological interventions (44%). For laser, TENS and acticoat the answers were mainly no or don’t know. For Pharmacological management of itch, 76% of participants selected antihistamines as a treatment for itch and 32% selected steroid injections for management.

A majority of the VABS staff members feel somewhat confident or less treating and educating post-burn itch. Staff knowledge on pharmacological management of post-burn itch is poor and requires further education and resources.


Elizabeth Capell is the Burns Allied Health Team Leader (Physiotherapist) at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. She’s recently completed her Graduate Diploma in Burns and Trauma Rehabilitation at Notre Dame University.

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