Introduction and objective: Uremic pruritus is a common symptom in patients under hemodialysis. The exact cause of uremic pruritus is not yet known. Although effective treatments are available, there is not still a commonly accepted treatment for this disorder. The present study was aimed at examining the effects of thermotherapy on the quality of life (QOL) and biochemical parameters in hemodialysis patients with uremic pruritus.
Patients and methods: In this experimental study, a total of 40 men under hemodialysis suffering from uremic pruritus were randomly selected and divided into an experimental group (thermotherapy) and a control group (no exposure to heat). The experimental group were exposed to far-infrared radiation (FIR) at 40 °C in 15-minute sessions, three times a week, in total for 18 sessions. The Severity of Pruritus Scale (SPS), the Kidney Disease Quality of Life Instrument (KDQOL), and the ItchyQoL were completed by the participants before the start of intervention, one month after the start of intervention, and at the end of intervention. The data were analyzed using SPSS22.
Results: Significant differences were observed between the intervention and control groups in all the criteria for assessing uremic pruritus, including history of symptoms, daily activities, QOL, effects on sleep, emotional aspects, and severity of pruritus (p<0.001). In addition, significant improvements were found after the intervention in the criteria for assessing the QOL of the patients (p<0.001). Moreover, improvements in the calcium and phosphorus levels were observed in the intervention group in comparison with the control group.
Conclusion: Thermotherapy is effective in reducing the severity of pruritus and increasing the QOL of patents with this problem. Therefore, it can be used as a complementary method in treating patients with uremic pruritus who also experience a reduction in their QOL.
Keywords: Hemodialysis, Thermotherapy, Uremic pruritus, Quality of life, Biochemical parameters