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Sunburn with horrible Pins and Needles Sensation
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Sunburn with horrible Pins and Needles Sensation

Hi...I am a 28 year old female.  I rarely sunburn and can count the number of times on one hand.  However, three days ago, I spent about three hours at the pool.  I covered myself in sunscreen prior to going and while there.  When I came back, it appeared I had a nice tan.  Then, as the hours passed, my back and the back of my legs became very red.  Since I was in the sun, I spent even time on both sides of my body so as to get an even tan, but for some reason only my back side burned.  

The real issue here is that now, after three days, I am experiencing extremely uncomfortable sensations that feel like pins and needles in addition to the fact that the burn hurts to touch, is hot, and red (although some redness has now gone away and some of the heat radiating from the burn has subsided).  Is this normal for a sunburn?  I haven't had enough of them to know really.  But, I have literally been awake all night and in tears because I cannot bear this sensation of pins and needles.  Is there anything that I can do to make this stop?  I am desperate.  I work and cannot function without sleep.  I cannot take off work as right now as I have deadlines that must be completed on time.  Please...is there anything that might help???  This is terrible.

Thank you for assistance.


This discussion is related to Sunburn .
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535822_tn?1389452880
Sounds like some allergic reaction there perhaps a trip to your Doc to get it checked out would be in order, Sun burn does hurt there are some preperations at the drugstore you can put on I believe the Cream to look for is 'After Sun Care" it will soothe it also try cold compresses ,if it really hurts take a painkiller. We have all been there sometimes in our lives its miserable is'nt it ,it will pass soon, make sure your sunscreen is strong enough and the Backs of your legs well covered.
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Avatar_n_tn
about a month ago i got sunburnt really bad, now i have a deep itch in my upper back and arms. it's driving me crazy. i've been to the doctor, he told me i had a fungis frome scratching, he gave me medicine to clear the fungis up but i still have that deep itch
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Avatar_n_tn
I have felt this pins and needles from a sunburn only once before in my life (both times on my back) and can attest that both times it was THE MOST unbearable feeling I've ever felt.  There is nothing you can do to escape it - and to explain to those who have never felt it, 'pins and needles' doesn't really cover it.  More like a dozen people surrounding you jabbing tacks in and out of your skin.  And it goes on for HOURS upon hours.  Both times I almost passed out from exhaustion just going through it.

*NO* oils or creams have worked - in fact, they MAKE IT WORSE (for me).  The skin going through a state of dry -> moist just aggravates the condition.

The first time this happened to me I soaked a towel in ice cold water and kept moving it around my back.  The second time I took my shirt off and kept placing my back on the coldest part of the walls I could find.  The only way to make the sensation go down (not go away mind you) was making my skin as cold as possible and keeping it that way.  The second time I was told to take Benadryl which did, but it's hard to say if the sensation calmed down due to the Benadryl or just due to time.  By my advice is DO NOT do anything to make your skin's moisture change, whether it be taking a shower or applying ointment.  This has made the condition even worse for me in the past.

Both times it happened to me it occurred 2-3 days AFTER I was in the sun and the redness of the sunburn had just started to go into a brown (and peel as well).

So try Benadryl and keep you skin in constant contact with something dry and COLD.  But this condition is definitely one of the painfully persistent feeling that is completely incapacitating.   I honestly think that if someone came up and could make it go away, with the price being I give that person all my possessions, I would have done it in a heartbeat.  It's a completely intolerable inescapable nightmare of a feeling, that's for sure.
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Avatar_f_tn
I went to the Beach this past Sunday and got a suntan not realizing the degree of my tan. I'm now experiencing this kind of pins n needles  sensation on my back n left arm.  Much irritated and annoyed. Had to look up my symptoms on line Thanks for your advice. Much luck for me.
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Avatar_m_tn
Yes indeed the pain is unbearable - and no one understands what you are going through.   I had an attack while at Typhoon Lagoon and almost went insane.  I went to two first aid places while on vacation thinking that this would be a somewhat common experience - it does not appear to be.  The cooling gels for sunburns do not work for this situation.  

Out of desperation, I decided to do the "swim with the sharks" exhibit in their salt water area and the pain stopped.  The water was only 70 degrees.  So it may have been the cold salt water or just its time to pass.  If I get this again at home I am going to try sea salt and cold water.
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Avatar_m_tn
Yes I have just experienced this horrible Pins and Needles after sunburn, its is horrible , I am 42 been sunburned many times and never felt anything like it.   My sunburn was a couple of days old healing ok had been putting creams on it and all was good, until I used a Lynx spray deodorant seconds after this came the pins n needles it was unbearable I had a shower straight away but no good did not help, I put creams moisturising creams and more showers what finally worked houre later was a Topical anti-inflammatory cream that after about 30 min after was much better.
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Avatar_m_tn
It's all true: unbearable, no one understands, and not much to do about it but wait it out. Thanks for posting, everyone, and describing it so well. At least I don't feel alone anymore. Wishing you all a sunburn free existence from here on out.
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Avatar_f_tn
Have any of you tried cold Aloe Vera gel or juice?  it has properties that are particularly healing and soothing for burns.
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Avatar_f_tn
I used to feel like I was the only person who went through this because no person (even doctors) could help me out. Like it has been said, only those who have felt it can explain it. I have had it so many times now I have lost count. From experience (not from doctors) this is pretty much how I get throught it, hope it helps those new to it.

Do not put any cream or oil on it, not even aloe. As much as friends and family say it will help, you are not going through what they experience when they have a burn. It makes it a lot worse. Don't scratch, stretch, rub, and don't sweat. Pretty much limit your movements.

Over the years I have taught myself not to change anything from the outside-in (scratching, moisturizing), but rather do it from the inside out. Drink as much water and gatorade as you can. It doesn't make it go away, but for what ever reason it made it bearable for me.

Unfortunately nothing makes it go away but time. It usually occurs for 24 hours on the 2nd or 3rd day after receiving the burn. So don't panic, its just for a day (once again from experience of getting it constanstly)

It plays with your mind and drives you nuts as if a form of torture, but try your best to keep yourself occupied or even sleep.

Goodluck
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Avatar_m_tn
I thought i was alone in this. When I was young, I remember standing in the shower crying from the pain. It is relentless and is definitely best described by pins and needles jabbed into you at random around the shoulders, back, and chest. I am 38 now and I got burnt 2 days ago and have been hoping it would not happen. Well it started about 2 hours ago and just now easing up, I agree with the above post, anything put on the skin makes it worse, I have learned to just try to limit movement and try to focus on something else, there is really nothing to do about it except tough it out and wait it out. It is SO bad though. Had to respond, as it was comforting to know it happens to other people. No person would understand unless they have felt the same pain.
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Avatar_f_tn
Take a hot bath!! I know this sounds crazy but it really works! I searched the Internet when my husband had this terrible burn. Live yogurt helps too! But the answer to your prayers is a hot bath! Soak as long as you can and good luck, I would never want anyone else to to have this pain!
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Avatar_n_tn
You need a PURE ALOE VERA GEL.you can get it from any drugstore.it will say AFTER SUN.it will sooth you and calm your skin down.you can also get a aloe vera leaf.cut it open and apply it.HOPE YOU FEEL BETTER.I WILL PRY FOR YOU.I JUST GOT OVER PRICKLY HEAT AND AND AN ALLERGIC REACTION
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Avatar_f_tn
I am having the same symptoms as all the people above, and this is now the second time I have gone through this. The pain is excruciating and I feel sorry for all those who have to go through it! I wish I could be writing with a cure, but I'm not. I  however writing to tell anybody who goes through this there is something to help the pain and let the time pass for it to go away. I have found, and as weird as it sounds, warm showers makes the pain go away. unfortunately it doesn't make it go away fully, but when it comes back I just hop in the shower and repeat this until the pain goes away fully. The first time I had these symptoms I tried all applications, medicines, and a doctor but nothing worked. I just so happen to be desperate enough to try a warm shower and found it to be the only thing that helps. I hope this will help anyone who gets it and hopefully you don't get it again.
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Avatar_f_tn
Try a milk bath.  No kidding.  Put some milk in the tub with your bath water.  It soothes sunburn.
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Avatar_m_tn
Vinegar - a lady I knew from Florida told me that that's what they use - provides instant relief. Sounds weird, but I've used it and it works - it only provides relief for the pins and needles - you will definitely use a lot of it and have someone keep applying it when it dries.
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Avatar_m_tn
I can not bear this!!!!!!!!!!!!!

feels like someone is jabbing me with needles. i was really panicing until i read this forum, i took two stone cold showers today and one red hot one, but only the hot one soothed it for ten minutes,

i even went to first aid room at work and put burn fluid on it and i could of cried, the most torturing feeling ever!!! i felt like ripping off my skin! its all over my chest and stomach,

im a 28 year old guy and would say im a wuss but this pain is almost bringing me to tears. no creams work, aloe vera, after sun, moisturiser, vinager, milk, hot baths.

i dont know what works but i can tell you these dont. the only thing that makes it bearable is gently rubbing my hands across it but as soon as i stop its back.

but take my advice, DO NOT PUT ANY CREAM ON IT! you have been warned people

please god let it be gone tomorrow, i cant cope.
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Avatar_m_tn
also, i burnt on sunday its now tuesday and only started happening today
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Avatar_m_tn
Have had this now for two days, on and off, absolute torture. Had sun burn twice in my youth, 30 years ago, but nothing like this. Then it was the usually hotness, peeling and itch when peeling.  This is exactly as described, constant pricking sensations, itchy too but yet not itchable, appearing in intense bubndles acorss ches, neck, upper back, shoulders,
and if it abates in one area, starts in another, sometimes abating only to come back with a vengeance.  I honestly thought I would crack up and had to lock myself in a room, silently groaning, least I frighten the kids with the contorted face and welled up eyes!!

I'm not fair skinned, a low block usually protects me and I tan, but I got careless this time, was without shirt in the sun at the worst time for a few hours, and baam, 20 hours later, this the worst torture ever.  Creams, moisturisers, definitely make it worse, showers in tepid, moderately cold water only provided brief and not full respite, and when out, it's worse than ever. Got no sleep last night at all. Has some what abated now, but still there in bits, just cannot go to bed. The missus got worried, but I sensed it has to pass. Problem was I thought it did twice, only for it to come back with a vengeance.  This is the second night of it.   Hopefully it will be gone for good tomorrow.

What in the name of God is this specific sunburn condition that would make you want to tear your skin off but you can't that drains you mentally and physically.

Nothing I have read on the med sites I have scanned covers this. Thank God for meeting others here.  Wish I had googled the symptoms earlier.

To think I have still to go through the usual post sun burn itch and creepy crawley sensation after this, though that will be a picknick in comparison.

The chicken pox would be preferable!
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Avatar_f_tn
I am 17 and ive got sunburn before but not one where I feel pins and needles it is the worse feeling ever. when I feel the needles my legs or arms or where ever the sunburn is starts to move on its own because of how painful it is. you just want to itch it away but then you will feel even more pain then before.
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Avatar_f_tn
The first time I noticed this issue was six year ago after being burned pretty bad in a tanning bed.  For months, every morning after my shower, the prickliness would start, mostly in my legs but also random places all over my body.  I too thought I would go insane as I couldn't decide whether I wanted to cry or scream while ferociously rubbing my skin.  Ever since then when it is spring or fall (especially) it comes back, not to the degree as the original episode but always in the morning after my shower.  The only relief I find is to put pants on to limit the exposure to air circulation.  
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Avatar_m_tn
I have had this twice in my life and I've sworn to never let it happen again!! Especially now I've moved from UK to a sunny country.

8 years ago I got it on my back in Thailand whilst playing soccer on the beach thinking I could not get burned on a cloudy day. I also got it much worse last week after moving to Singapore and laying by the pool for 90 minutes with no cream on, my fault.

Usually for sun burn you should have a hot shower or bath to open your pores and then apply Aloe Vera or Tea Tree Oil. DO NOT TRY THIS IF YOU HAVE THE PRICKLES!! The warm water will only make it 100 times worse as I found out.

However, there is something I've used both times and it works for me.

Snake Brand Prickly Heat Powder.

Use it like talc. Put some in your hand and then lightly rub the affected area. Dont put loads on as it cools so much that it then becomes uncomfortable as well. Just enough so you can see it on your skin but still see your skin through the powder. Then lay down still and try really hard not to scratch the prickles. It will take around 15 minutes to cool you down but it definitely works.
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Avatar_f_tn
Thanks for your post. I have just woken up and this condition has finally gone after 36 hours. It was my upper back that was effected. Like so many I made the mistake of trying different creams, fresh Aloe Vera all of which aggrivated it. Because it was the weekend no doctors were open so I went to emergency at my local hospital (feeling guilty cause there were so many sick people there) but I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to wait 5 hours to be seen only to be sent home with patches on my back that they use on burn victims.. well they were quickly ripped of when I got home as it incresed the pis and needles by 10 fold. Then I found this blog and thank god because I was going crazy, I have a high pain thresh hold and this is up there. I went back to the hospital (this time in tears) and tried to explain what I had read in this blog and all of your experences and guess what! THE DOCTOR STILL LOOKED AT ME STRANGE and was going to send me home with some over the counter pain killers. I demanded they give me something stronger (Codeine) and also something to help me sleep (Valium) as I had been up all night. They finally obliged and exhausted I went home, drugged myself up, put frozen peas in a towel and wrapped it around my shoulders which gave me great relief. I woke up 4 hours later and the pins and needles where still there so I took more pain meds and drunk a huge glass of water and went back off to sleep. I'm now awake and pain free but feel mentally exhausted. So DO NOT PUT ANY CREAMS OR LOTIONS IT. Only use ice-packs wrapped in a towel or even a tee shirt and use STRONG pain relief. Also an antihistime like Benadryl will be of benefit too if it's an allergy, well at least it will sedate you and help bring on sleep. Never in my life (49 yrs old) have I experienced something so delibertating. It was torture!!!! So glad I found your posts..  
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Avatar_f_tn
Just to add further to my post I was badly sunburnt on my back and it started 24 hours afterwards. I had no rash and it wasn't itchy (which is associated with prickly heat rash) just painful pins and needles and like electrical shocks going through my back non stop and aslo like someone jabbing me with 100 needles. Just an awful torturuos experience!!!!! Wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. Hope I have helped someone and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Remember keep it dry and cold and use strong pain relief and an antihistimine to knock yourself out. Good luck!!
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Avatar_m_tn
It is shocking to me that this is not more known about! It is very frustrating to not be understood and then percieved as a baby because you're going crazy over a sunburn. I was told once that the reason it happens is because it burns through to the nerve endings. The nerve endings are now irritated which is why creams irritate it so much.
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Avatar_m_tn
I am 24 years old sitting up at 3 o'clock in the morning with this same horrible sensation, it is the worst pain I have ever felt in my life, this is the third time I have suffered from it, the strange thing is that my sunburn was not even that bad, a slight redness on my back, my chest and abdomen also suffered slight burns but I have not had this sensation in those areas, it seems to be only affecting my back, so far i have not found anything to end or relieve this pain, hot showers only seem to make it worse, all I can do is sit here and try not to move, and hope that it goes away soon. As a former marine I am embarresed that this causes me so much utter agony, I just want to go insane. I would not wish this on anyone ever, it is almost unbearable.
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Avatar_m_tn
The first thing I can say is are you in sunburn pain or is it excruciating pins and needles. I have had this pins and needles sensation for years and have found the cure... A STEROID SHOT. The pain of the sunburn occurs that first night. Then after 2-4 days of normal sunburn pain the pins start. It could be in the middle of the day or in the middle of the night. I have been told it is basically a severe reaction or described as sun poisoning.
But with all that what it is or is not doesn't make you feel any better. But it occurred to me during the 3rd day some years ago and I drove straight to Dr office. He gave me a shot of steroid and with in 15 seconds the most painful sensation to ever occur to my back was GONE. This has happened to me at least 4 times. I hope this helps everyone. It will work.
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Avatar_f_tn
Same here ... Yesterday On Sunday  I went to Santa Cruz beach and now I have this BAD sensation I didn't sleep whole night up till now  6:52a.m... I m very sensitive to sun always get red like tomatoes!..But the needles I feel first time in my life !!!!!! So as I said I m very sensitive to sun So I tired to prepare myself before going to the beach ,I did tan for the last 3 weeks if not more slowly by catching some sun for short time on Stanford campus ..so my skin got darker I didn't feel discomfort being in the sun anymore ..on the beach I was pretty much ok ..my body didn't get too red but my legs i I would say even my feet !!!its crazy !!! But crazy or not now I m feeling like cut my feet off with a little bit of my legs .. I tired plain yogurt around 3 a.m. That's when I realized if I right now don't do sth I will go insane ..it did relief a little  after 10-15 mins but already in 15 more minutes I felt the same !!! Started putting all the cold things I could find in the fridge ...also helps but really not much ..now I took 600 ibuprofen and ketanov pill a very strong pain killer it's from Ukraine since I'm from Ukraine.. Now I'm laying down hoping that will help .. Trying to think about sth else.. But honestly !! I wanna break sth I feel like go around breaking things in the house !!!  .. I just hope it will go away soon !!! And yes creams made it worse .. I'm my case ..
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Avatar_m_tn
Sorry to hear you all suffer from this hellish condition but I'm happy I'm not alone. Today would rank as one of the worst days of my life. The last day of my honeymoon in Costa Rica. Two days ago I went to the beach and forgot my sunblock. I tried to limit my exposure but none the less I got a bit of a burn which caused this hellish day.

Last night I woke up around 2am with the pins and needles curse. Maybe we should rename it to hellish burning/itching stabbing pain that gets worse with pretty much anything you do. Normally this affliction puts me out of service for a day where I lay quietly in my room waiting for it to go away. Today I had to drive through the Mountains of Costa Rica for 4 hours and then sit on a plane for 6 hours.

I'm pretty sure anyone watching me must have thought I was going through drug withdrawal. Everything I did made the pain more unbearable. I consider myself a tough guy (35) but this had me on the verge of insanity. Stuck in a car and on a plane for most of the day while trying not to move or think about the horror of each nerve ending on my back firing pain messages to my brain was too much to handle. All I had was Advil which was like trying to stop a forest fire with shot glass of water.

Once home I hit the old trusty pain killers and now I'm only slightly aware that my back is still really really pissed off. As much as I hate taking them pain killers are the only thing that have taken the edge off for me. T3 or stronger. I have my alarm set so I can take more before the last pills wear off. We need more information on this condition. It must be documented somewhere. If there's ever a drive for donations to find a cure count me in. I ***** to be afraid of a sun burn.


P.S. It would be nice if people who told you it's not too bad it's just a sunburn could feel what we go through for just 10 seconds. I don't want to scar them for life i just want them to understand...  
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Avatar_m_tn
I've suffered with this every time i go abroad, it first happened when i was about 12 years old i was in ibiza.Im 22 now, it happened last year for over 36 hours, i was going INSANE in my hotel room, chucking stuff, i just wanted to pain to stop. it is literally the worst pain i've went through, after waiting for the doctor who NEVER turnt up to my hotel room, i went to one of there little hospitals, the doctor was great, he gave me a CHLORPHENIRAMINE Injection, and a course of DACORTIN 30MG tablets which deals with allergic reactions and is an anti inflammatory(Think its also a steroid plus, these things are the size of hockey pucks!). he also gave me just some basic antihistamine tablets to take called RUPATADINA 10MG .

Before you go abroad or go sun bathing make sure to consult a doctor and do some research about how you can prevent it, because you can, i can guarantee if i had that injection and them pills within the first 2 minutes i felt it coming it would have stopped a few minutes after.
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Avatar_f_tn
My 22 year old son is going through this right now. He has such a high tolerance for pain that him yelling about this pain freaked me out so I just took him to ER since it was 11:30 pm. The doctor was a big jerk and said it was just a sunburn. He acted all annoyed that we were there for such a minor thing. It didn't seem to matter to him that my son was writhing there in pain. He told him to take Advil and wait it out. Our whole family became sunburned while out waterskiing and as our sunburns started to feel better on day three, his was getting worse. There has to be something else going on here to make all of you have this intense pain. Wish there was a doctor out there who could figure this out.
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Avatar_m_tn
My boyfriend is going through this right now, we naturally went for the obvious Aloe Vera, after sun, camomile. He eventually couldn't take anymore and jumped in the shower freezing cold, with a bath towel over his back. After reading this I convinced him to try a hot shower, he was very sceptical but tried it as he was freezing from standing in the cold shower. He was in the hot shower for 15mins and was saying he was comfortable again. At first I was rolling my eyes at him thinking he was exaggerating, but after a couple of minutes I realised this was serious. I would highly recommend a hot shower/bath and AVOID ALL CREAMS OR OILS. Good luck :-)
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Avatar_m_tn
Happened to me yesterday.  It is torture.  When it first happened in Cuba several years ago, I went to the medical centre in Santa Clara.  The Cuban doctor gave me pills and some cream and charged me $45.  It worked.  I could have kissed him on the moustache.  The best $45 I ever spent, but I would love to know what he gave me.  It was a white greasy cream and some small yellow pills, but I have no idea what they were.
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Avatar_m_tn
Oh yeah...cold compresses are good...screaming in the shower doesn't help but you will find yourself doing it.  Good luck to everyone who suffers this.  It is truly the worst pain possible.
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Avatar_m_tn
Yes, I am too among the afflicted. Try ice packs. I have tried everything. This is the one thing that does give me relief. Numbing it is the only answer.
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Avatar_f_tn
Dear all,

If you are experiencing this is may be something called Notalgia paresthetica

I have had the itch at the area of the left shoulder blade - same spot for over a year , I noticed it when I was in on holiday last year and to be truthful the pain was so bad I thought I had just sunburned that part in my back really badly as it was red and nothing else was showing . I thought I had missed sunscreen there . When I was on holiday this year I ensured I had plenty high factor sunscreen on my back but this made no difference the itch and pain was at its worse again with the heat - again I thought what is this itch pain and when I came home I researched the internet and came up with the above .

Notalgia paresthetica is a condition where the skin of the upper back becomes itchy, and there is often a darker
patch of skin on the itchy area. Notalgia paresthetica may be caused by a problem with the nerve cells that
provide feeling to the skin of the upper back (sensory neuropathy). Skin changes, if present, are due to chronic rubbing and scratching of the affected area.

Who's At Risk
Notalgia paresthetica can affect people of any age, of any race, and of either sex. However, it is thought to be
most common in middle-aged to older adults. Women seem to develop notalgia paresthetica more frequently
than men.

Though researchers are not certain what causes notalgia paresthetica, some studies have demonstrated spine
disease in the spinal bone (vertebra) at the level of the affected skin. Scientists speculate that spine disease
due to age or injury may press on a nerve providing feeling to that area of the skin, which leads to itching.
Signs and Symptoms
The most common location for notalgia paresthetica is the upper back, especially between the shoulder blades.
The area may be confined to only one side of the upper back, or it may occur in the middle of the upper back, over the spinal bones.

Notalgia paresthetica often occurs without any obvious changes to the skin. If skin changes do occur, there may be a well-defined patch of darker skin (hyperpigmentation) over the affected area.

Although periodic itching is the main symptom associated with notalgia paresthetica, some people notice pain, tingling, or a change in feeling (sensation) in the affected skin.

Self-Care Guidelines
Dry skin is a common cause of itching, so it helps to apply a moisturizer to the itchy area at least twice a day.

If moisturizers are not helpful, try an over-the-counter cream containing an extract of hot peppers, called capsaicin, and follow the package directions carefully. You will probably not get immediate relief, and the capsaicin cream may take up to 6 weeks to have its full effect. If the capsaicin cream is effective, symptoms will likely come back after you stop using the cream.
When to Seek Medical Care
If moisturizers and capsaicin cream are not helpful, see your doctor for an evaluation.

Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Your doctor may be able to diagnose notalgia paresthetica by taking your history and examining your skin. In addition, your doctor might order an X-ray or another type of radiologic study, such as an MRI or a CT scan.

If you do have a diagnosis of notalgia paresthetica, your doctor may try the following:

* Prescription-strength anesthetic cream
* Prescription-strength corticosteroid (cortisone) cream

If the itching or pain becomes intolerable or interferes with your activities, your doctor may prescribe an oral anti-seizure (anti-epileptic or anti-convulsant) medication, such as:

* Gabapentin
* Topiramate
* Oxcarbazepine

If these approaches are not effective, and if your symptoms are severe enough to justify it, more aggressive procedures may be performed to relieve pressure on the compressed nerve:

* Injection of local anesthetic near the compressed nerves as they exit the spine (paravertebral block)
* Spine surgery


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