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upperarm itching and burning
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upperarm itching and burning

For 3 years ive been having intence burning and itching on both my upper arms. Feels like someone sticking loads of sharp pins in my arm. Ive had RA for past ten years. only medication i am on is steroids 10mg.  Have been prescribed nemerous creamsnone  have helped. Only releif is from ice packs.  Any ideas of cause and any sugestions for releif?
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Every summer for the last few years I’ve had itching on both of my arms, one at a time.  This is the only place on my body that itches.  It is usually a spot near my elbow or wrist, but can be on my forearm or the area between my shoulder and elbow.  It usually happens in the night, or evening, occasionally it happens in the afternoon.  There is no real pattern.
It starts with a strange sensation, then it gets warm, and then itches, and if I touch it, it explodes into a relentless deep itch.  My only relief is ice, or an icy hot patch when it is mild.

I’ve had physicians watch it as it would start to happen.  For a while it would occur at about 3am every night.  (I worked swing shift.)  On those nights it would start with a strange sensation on my arm.  Then the area would turn red as the small area would get hotter and hotter.  The tingling sensation would start, and then the little itch would grow into an intolerable, relentless itch.  If I did scratch it, the area would grow quickly, usually just a few inches in total, but it would feel deep.  While the malady occurs, my blood pressure sky rockets.  

What makes it worse is if I put water on it, or fan to cool the area, or the a/c vent in my car, the moving air feels like fiberglass being rubbed into my arm.  No creams help.
When the itch is at its worse the joints in my wrist and elbow closest to the itch swell and hurt as if I had arthritis.  This part doesn’t always occur.  When I use ice to relieve the itch this swelling also goes away.  However, I have an overwhelming sense of irritability in my whole body when it is extremely bad.  

The suggestions from the various physicians that I have seen with have not helped.  I stopped caffeine, this didn’t help at all.  I have tried super cold showers, the sensation of the running water hurts my arm, and the shower doesn’t relieve the pain like an ice pack.

I live in Arizona where it is hot and dry.  This only affects me during the summer months.  Every summer I go to San Diego for a week, as soon as I get to California I notice when the itch occurs it is very mild, and goes away completely after I’ve spent time in the ocean.  I will have total relief for a few weeks after my trip.  I drink lots of caffeine and get lots of sun while I’m there…these are not the cause.

I have four sisters with the same problem.  None of us knew the others had it, until I was over and it started and made myself an ice pack.  Then this mysterious itch was described by all of my sisters, exactly the same.  The only relief is ice and sometimes Benadryl, but antihistamines make us all tired.  Our Mother also has the same problem.  It started at different ages for all of us, but somewhere between 25 and 35.

This is not a superficial itch, it feels as though it is coming from deep inside the tissue.  I’ve had a nerve check while it was occurring, and my nerves are not the cause.  The only unusual occurrence of note is mosquito bites.  This may be a simple coincidence, but it all starts shortly after I get my first mosquito bite of the summer.  About two years before this all started, I had been out at the lake and at dusk while packing to head home, I was bit by over 200 mosquitoes.  Over the period of a week I grew sick and weak and the mosquito bites took days to fully emerge as bumps that oozed.  My joints swelled and I itched intensely.  I had what my general practitioner called a “severe allergic reaction”.

When it is mild I can get away with using an icy hot patch.  It takes a few minutes for it to take affect and during that time I want to scream, or rip my skin off.  I travel with ziplock bags because I know I can get a cup of ice at any convenience store, and sometimes I travel with an ice pack, just in case.  
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