Symptoms & Causes of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

What are the symptoms of PSC?

Man scratching itchy skin on his arm.Symptoms of PSC include itchy skin.

Symptoms of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) may include

  • pain in the abdomen, or belly
  • itchy skin
  • diarrhea
  • yellowish color of the whites of the eyes and skin, called jaundice
  • feeling tired or weak
  • fever

PSC may lead to a bile duct infection. Symptoms of a bile duct infection include

  • chills
  • fever
  • new or worsening jaundice
  • pain in the upper right side of the abdomen

As the disease gets worse, you may develop cirrhosis. Symptoms of cirrhosis may include

Because PSC gets worse slowly, you can have the disease for years before you have any symptoms. Many people have no symptoms when they are first diagnosed with PSC.

What causes PSC?

Experts aren’t sure what causes PSC. Studies suggest that several factors may play a role, including

Last Reviewed February 2022
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This content is provided as a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIDDK translates and disseminates research findings to increase knowledge and understanding about health and disease among patients, health professionals, and the public. Content produced by NIDDK is carefully reviewed by NIDDK scientists and other experts.