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upper arm itch
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upper arm itch

back in 2000 i wrote in ( my name at the time was terry **** ) about a serious problem that i was having with serious upper arm itch. right now it is almost 3 am and i'm up with the arm issue.

your responce to me was a bit dishearting as i did not think that i was obbsessing with my skin, i have no stress issues and i simply had an upper arm itch that seemed to come out of the blue.

over the years i have tried every cream but found a product called lmx that can be bought from the druggest. i used it for some lazer treatments to numb the skin and it helps a lot however it is expensive and the only other thing that relieves the problem is ice which can be a pain in he butt trying to keep an ice bag on my arm all night.

i have thought a lot about what may be the problem and i believe that it may have to do with the actual nerves. not being nervous but my actual nerves.

i started working out with weights back in my 30's ( i'm now 57 and i had a husband who pussed me to do heavier and heavier weights. i also have had back issues and neck issues ( as someone had written and got some relief from chiropratic) last year we had so many things going on and i didn't work out at all and my arms did not bother me. this year i am back to doing light weights. i'm not into it like i was back in my younger days and again my arms are itching. i do not notice it during the day when i'm busy ( sometimes but not often ) it only seems to happen at night after i am settled in for the evening.

i'm wondering if i may have somewhere along the line pinched a nerve and working out with weights causes the nerve to be pinched and start the itching process? only a guess as it has been a problem that keeps me awake most of the night.

i never got back on line until now since i wrote to you back in 2000 and i see that a lot of people responded in 2002 so to them thank you for your concern and help but mostly nothing has changed. i have more anti itch cream next to my bed and i use it all in hopes that something will kick in. however if there is any product on the market that has a good numbing affect on the arm that is less expensive then the ellmax ( sp ) which has a 5% litcain in it, i would apprciate it. also any thoughts on the possibility that i may have a pinced nerve?

thank you,
terry
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242489_tn?1210500813
You may indeed have some problem with a nerve in the vicinity, but I'm not familiar with a particular nerve condition or syndrome that causes itch in just the place you have it.  Rather than ascribe it to psychological issues as I did in 2000, I'm inclined to think you may be right to associate it wit actual nerves, as you put it.  I think I would start by consulting a neurologist.  

Any of the itch preparations you mention may have some beneficial effect, but finding a specific cause would be better, if it's possible.

Good luck.

Dr. Rockoff
11 Comments
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After reading your post I now know that I am not crazy- Mine has been going on for 3 years now and tends to be worse in the summer months but it is now October and it hasn't let up any. It doesn't happen during the day only @ night.  Exact same symptons as you.  Though I haven't worked out with weights.  I twitch when I don't itch and I am up almost every night.  The only thing that has helped me is prescription steroid cream.  But it is prescription and the doctors haven't a clue as to what is wrong with me.  I am frustrated and tired.  Nothing helps- I didn't know if it had anything to do with hormones as I had a hysterectomy 3 years ago.  ?????
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Avatar_n_tn
after i wrote about my upper arm itch back in 2000, i was so dissapointed with the answer, which was basically that i should stop obsessing about my skin, that i never came back on to see if anyone else had the same problem. i do now see that in 2002 someone wrote in to say that they had seen my quesion and that i had discribed to a t what they were going through. that prompted a lot of other people to write about this same issue. so now i am trying again to see if there may be some new answers for me. but i am truely glad to see that i am not alone in this. i have always had the feeling that this is an internal problem. if i do develope a rash it is because of the constant scratching. the only thing that i have found that really works is ice. i have to apply it directly to the skin until my arm freezes and i cannot feel the itch anymore. i have suffered with this for 10 years now but at one point in time it stopped just as quickly as it started and then two years later it was back again. that is why i think it may be a nerve problem. someone suggested back problems which could be true for me as i have an issue there but nothing that i ever thought was serious. i do have neck problems that i have delt with for many more years than the itch so again maybe nerves in that area. thanks for your comments. every little bit helps.
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Avatar_n_tn
I too suffer from this affliction a few times a year.  It's been more than 10 years now and I believe it's the nerve, not the skin.  Ice helps and Benadryl.  It can be very frustrating, and I don't even touch my arms for fear I might trigger the "itch".

Pauline
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242489_tn?1210500813
There is a condition called "brachioradial pruritus" that sounds a bit like your symptoms. (Pruritus means itch.) It's sometimes caused by sun exposure.  Treatment is difficult, but anti-inflammatory drugs and creams sometimes help.  You might mention this possibility to the neurologist you consult.

Dr. Rockoff
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Avatar_n_tn
brachioradal pruritus is at least a beginning to try and figure this out and i will mention it to the dr.

when this all started back around 1995, i had been living in florida for 6 months out of the year and that was about the 6th year. we were in the sun a lot. then i would come home to our house on the lake for the summer months and again in the sun a lot.

i do notice, however, that if my arms are ok , ( not itching ) and i raise my arms over my head for any reason, they will start to tingle and that will start the itch cycle. that is why i have thought it may be some kind of nerve damage.

i do notice that when my arms get warm in the fall and winter ( such as when i'm in sweaters etc.) and i'm inside, my arms will start to itch.

although i no longer fry in the sun, i did  a lot of it when i was younger. i even worked at a local swimming pool as a teenager and we would all try to outdo each other with how dark we could get and i continued that for many years after until they started to see what excess exposure to the sun can do. i now wear sunblock.

although i no longer go to florida in the winter, i still live on  a lake and am in the sun a lot in the summer. so perhaps all the sun exposure over the years has done damage and this is how it has manifested itself.

i have started to take two antihistimines at night. it says to take one every 4 hours but i take two. they seem to be helping a little plus they make me sleepy so i can at least get a few hours of sleep. however most of the time i do wake up in the night at some point feeling like someone is pokeing my arm with a pin. if it has been over 4 hours since i took the antihistimines i will take a couple  more and put some anti itch cream on my skin. i also keep a small cooler next to my bed with a bag of ice in it. that way if it gets real bad i can ice the arm and that will usually work long enough for the antihistimine to kick in and for me to get sleepy again.

i was amazed at how many people suffer with this. i thought i was alone.  without anything to show a dr. such as a rash, i could not get any help.  mostly i would be prescribed a cream which usually didn't even touch the itch. sometimes it would make it itch more.

as time has gone on i have developed ways to cope with this. part of it is keeping it in prespective. things could be a lot worse. so instead of waking up ready to screem and digging at my skin, i just do what i have to do and try not to let it upset me as i'm sure it would make it worse.

it does eventually go away even if i have to wait for 6 months. however, it always comes back.  it is a very strange problem but as i said i'm glad that i'm not alone with this issue.

thank you
t-lee

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Avatar_n_tn
wow, I thought I was crazy - its great to hear that you both have the exact same symptoms.  Mine has been a problem for 3 years, and I always thought it related to hormone level.  I've been on tamoxifen for 5 years, and its worse at nite when my hot flashes get worse.  but also I was a lifeguard in my teens and didn't use sun protection like I do now.  It does get worse in the summer, but this fall, its not getting better.  I try not to go crazy with it, as scratching just makes it all worse.  Steroid lotions or any lotions sometimes make it worse and cause those little bumps to break out.  The best thing was to start on Ambien - I'm taking half a tablet every nite and getting much better sleep.  Benadryl helped for awhile, but stopped helping me sleep.  I'll see how long Ambien helps.  keep me posted on any cures!!!
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Avatar_n_tn
glad to know that i'm not alone and that i also am not crazy!! there has been no dr that can explain what this problem is and  i always felt like an idiot explaining this to my dr as there was never a rash. altho i do break out in bumps now. it may have to do with all the lotions that i keep trying or the fact that i keep scratching.

dr rockoff suggested that it may be brachioradial pruritus. i looked it up on line and was blown away by what i was reading. i do believe that is what i have. however there seems to be some dissagreement as to whether it is from sun related damage or cervical spine compression.

in my case i would say it could be both as i have had neck issues for a long time. an xray showed arthritis in that area as well as degenerative issues. plus i also have spent a lot of time in the sun.

check out the brachioradial pruritus. you may find that is what all of us with itchy arms are dealing with.

i also take a sleeping pill at night as well as two antihistimines. all of that helps me to fall asleep and i can get some rest but most mornings i wake up with a start as tho someone is sticking a needle in my arm. it happened again this morning at 4:30 so i took two more antihistimines and put some more lotion on my arm and fell back to sleep.

it seems as though the antihistimines are working somewhat for me as the itch does not seem as intense at night as it used to but now it gets me very early mornings after the pills wear off.

i do not like taking all that stuff but i need to sleep and until the itch subsides i will do what i have to to get through the night.

thanks,
t-lee
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Today a dermatologist here in Florida told me I had Brachioradial Pruritus.  After 9 years of on/off pain in my arms and of going to a neurologist and then to a medical doctor, I finally found someone who at least gave a name to what I have been struggling with all these years.  Today, the dermatologist told me to buy Aveeno Skin lotion with cooling menthol. He was not sure it would help, but it was worth a try. I will know more in the future as to whether it helps.  The latest siege of pain started about 4 months ago, but it is now starting to subside.  About 3 weeks ago, I began using an antifungal cream bought at WalMart -- Equate clotrimazole Cream USP, 1%. You can get 2 oz for about $5. I don't know if the cream is what helped or the antifungal stuff in the cream or a new pill I started taking about 3 weeks ago (gabapentin) or if the pain was going to go away anyway.  Whatever the case,the pain is now a lot less severe and less frequent. Now it is only an occasional discomfort and I can easily live with it.
  In past years, ice or cold water has always given temporary relief -- I froze a small bottle of water and when the pain started, I'd tuck the ice bottle in the bend of my elbow to cool the skin.  Putting ice bottle on other painful spots of the arms also gave great temporary relief. A few years ago a chiropractor told me that cold gave relief because that would override the pain sensation. I don't know, but I know cold feels good. In fact,cooling my whole body helped.  The pain seemed to come quite often when I'd build up with inner tension (often in my sleep during the night) and my body/skin would feel kind of hot. Taking deep breaths and doing light exercise helped a little.   Lorazepam always worked to relieve the pain and relax me so I could get some sleep.  I think Lorazepam is the same as Ambien.  About four weeks ago while I was up north, the pain was so bad that I went to a medical Dr. He prescribed Lyrica -- I was suppose to take one 75mg capsule twice a day.  I don't think they helped a bit.  Then I asked him if I could take gabapentin (generic of Lyrica) since it was cheaper. I took one 300 mg. capsule everyday at bedtime. I am quite convinced that it has helped.  However, I can't be sure since I don't know if the attacks of pain are going away because of the antifungal cream, the gabapentin or they would have gone away gradually by themselves.  I'm sure everyone who has Brachioradial Pruritus could write a book on their experiences.  Learning more about this pain from various web sites was a real eye opener for me.  So many thoughts expressed were exactly what I had experienced.  Maybe my sharing the above ideas can help someone.  I'm interested in reading about how others have tried to cope with this problem.  




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Avatar_n_tn
thanks so much for posting your experience with this annoying pain/itch problem. even though knowing that others are dealing with the same thing does not help with the itch, it does help me in other ways. knowing that i'm not alone and that others deal with this same problem and that there is a name for it, has helped me so very much. when i'm up in the middle of the night dealing with this, it helps to know that i'm not alone with this problem.

ice is the only thing that i have found that stops the itch. when the itch isn't very bad then some of the creams help but when i'm having a really bad time i can only depend on ice to relieve the sensation and to help put a stop to the itch cycle.

i have found that using absorbine jr. horse linament ( i use the jell ) helps a lot. it goes into the skin very quickly and it is stong in menthol so my arm feels cool for a long time. this works better for me then any of the other products. plus it is great for aches and pains in other parts of the body but the menthol is so strong that it really helps with the itch. however, as i said, if i'm having a really bad attack, the only thing that works completely is ice.

i also am finding that in the past couple of weeks the itch seems to be going away. not completely but i have not had a real bad episode in a few weeks. sometimes i do wake up with my arm itching but i can relieve it with absobine jr and fall back to sleep. i find that this problem usually last a few months and then as quickly as it started, it goes away. but i usually can depend on it coming back sometime at the end of summer every year.

this year i scratced so bad that for the first time i had very nasty bumps all over my upper arms. it wasn't pretty but since the itch seems to be subsiding somewhat so are the bumps that i created from the constant scratching.

i also take a sleeping pill so that helps to get me to sleep but if my arm itches in the night i will wake up, even with the sleeping pill in my system.

i also hope that these postings will be helpful to others that deal with this annoying problem.

thanks again
t-lee
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Avatar_n_tn
I have had this problem for 3-4 months now and thought I was justlosing it! I have alot a small bruises on my arms as well.  From the info you have all provided, I feel like there may be some help.  Thank you very much!
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Avatar_n_tn
A related discussion, itchy upper arms was started.
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Avatar_f_tn
I live in Alabama and have had just notice it on the back of my rt. arm and one tiny bump would show up and I would then itch and it would then blister up and create a small patch. But I praying this thing away cause that's all I know to do is to thank the Lord for healing me because I had twice suffered with pinch nerve from my job and prayed it off so I'm going to do the same and pray this off too. God Bless
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