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Any CURE for brachioradial pruritus? (besides ice as relief)

Thousands of people are suffering with Brachioradial Pruritus, including myself, in my tenth year. It is the most maddening disease and I have learned of no cure. Ice is the ONLY thing to provide relief, and acupuncture has not been effective for me. I have tried all the expensive prescription and steroid creams to no avail. I am losing sleep, and my sanity, b/c it keeps me up all night. I am staying out of the sun, but every year, this persists until December or January. I have read countless articles and blogs about BRP, am sure that is what I have, but have yet to find a cure, and therefore some hope that I don't have to suffer with this every year for the rest of my life. Any new ideas/solutions/cures??? PLEASE?!!!!
274 Responses
Avatar universal
I have just started with this itch on my upper arm and I have scratched my skin so bad it looks horrible!!!!   I keep ice and topical creams on at night and gel/cream during the day but the itch does not stop.  It's much worse at night.  This just started two months ago and I have no idea where it came from or how to stop it. :(

If anyone can help, I'd appreciate it!
Avatar universal
I had a lot of relief with gabapentin.  The neurologist prescribed it to me and I started off with a low dose (100 mg) per day.  The maximum benefit, for me, was when I took 300 mg 4 times per day.  One in the morning, at lunch, around 6 pm, and right before bed.  It took the itching away for a good while (at least 6 months).  I'm not sure if I built a tolerance to the drug but, I've read that the most benefit is experienced at some point and then it tapers off.  I believe that 2400 or so is the maximum dose.  Anyhow, when I started itching again, I continued my search and found an article that gave me my next idea.  Since all of us do have some sort of bulged disc in our cervical spine, I went to a pain managment doctor (an anesthesiologist).  I requested an epidural steroid injection in between the C5 and C6.  First I was sent to get an MRI of the cervical spine.  Once my bulge was confirmed I got an injection.  On about the 2nd day after the injection I had intense itching (this is a normal side effect for pain sufferers so I guess it's the same for itching) but then nothing for 3 weeks....we shall see how long this lasts.  I was told that I could get up to 3 shots per year but that's it.  Another option the doctor suggested was trying some sort of neurostimulation device that can be implanted to block the itch signal to the brain.  There's a 5 day trial period at first.  If it works then you can get it implanted.  This is much more invasive than the injections but the itch is so crazy I think that all of us are willing to do anything to get rid of it.  It is a horrible itch!  Also, since I've been in a few car accidents, my neck is straight (I've lost the natural curvature of the neck), and my trapezius muscle is tensed up.  My shoulders are like bricks.  The pain management doctor is going to give me some trigger point injections to relax the muscle.  Maybe this is an issue that other BRP sufferers have?  I hope this helps.  If anyone has a cure, please let us all know.  
Avatar universal
I HAVE A SOLUTION (a couple actually)

I suspect I have BRP as I also have SLIGHT bulging & herniated discs from a car accident but all who have seen my MRIs suspect it is not enough to cause this?  (I beg to differ!)   While my BRP does seem to be triggered by explosure to sunlight I never had anything like this before the accident!  

NOTE:  I am NOT a doctor or health care professional.

Last year my doctor prescribed DOXEPIN (generic for SINEQUAN, Doxepin is available via prescription only and is on the discount $4 prescription list at walmart.)  
I take it at bedtime.  It really knocks me out but it starts to stop the itch in about 20 minutes and all into the next day.  The original dose was 100mg but now as I am also on prozac (medication interaction) I am now prescribed 25mg.  works just the same.  apparently each of these drugs amplifies the effect of the other.  While Doxepine is classified as an antidepressant, the anti-itching is a powerful SIDE EFFECT that gets the credit for the relief.  Apparently Doxepin acts as a very, very powerful antihistamine (which explains the drowsiness).

ALSO:  This an alternative regimen I came up with on my own before my doc prescribed the Doxepin:  
1.) clean affected area with rubbing alcohol.
2.) wet a styptic pencil (like for treating shaving cuts) with water and apply liberally to area.
3.) allow to air dry - do not remove residue.
4.) apply benedryl extra-strength itch-stopping gel to area liberally, blot dry after letting soak in for 1 minute. (2% Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride;  available over the counter at walgreens).
6.) apply Lanacaine maximum strength anti-itch cream to area and rub in thoroughly.
(20% benzocaine, available over the counter at walgreens)
7.) I would take anywhere from 50mg - 200mg benedryl orally, 3 to 4 times a day as part of this ant-itch regimen.

SEE YOUR DOCTOR to determine if the above regimen is safe and proper for you, especially the oral benedryl as the dosage is above the recommended amount.  Do NOT do this regimen while taking Doxepine also.

Partial relief should begin within 5 minutes, complete relief when the combined effect of the oral benedryl kicks in (20-30 minutes).  Relief from the itching should last approx 3 to 6 hours.  All the benedryl WILL make you sleepy.

NOTE:  sometimes the lanacaine alone works pretty well but for best results consistently I had to do ALL the steps EXACTLY as I described.  My doc said it was a pretty ingenious regimen I came up with and had nothing bad to say about it.

ALSO I had been prescribed NEURONTIN - but I much prefer the Doxepin.  The Neurontin upset my stomach, had to take it 3 times a day, it took a LONG time (hours) to take effect and was unforgiving if I missed a dose or was  late - had to wait hours all over again for it to kick back in.  The upset stomach really did me in though.

I hope this helps someone else.
Avatar universal
I have had this for over ten years now and it is MISERABLE! Im going crazy. Right now I use a very rough scratch pad for pans. I scrub my arms as fast and as hard as I can while showering. I have also gone to other extreme measures...like a dog brush. It didnt do a very good job. A meat tenderizer, if the blades stayed out it might have been effective. I have thought about sand paper. REALLY! I literally dig my arms bloody. I always have scabs along with many scars. On top of being miserable it is embarrassing. I am thankful for all these comments and remedies. I do have bulging discs in the c5-6 ad c6-7. Smething has to work or I am gonna lose my mind. I cannot take it anymore.
Avatar universal
I am a landscape gardener,I have had this debilitating condition for almost two years , I say almost as the condition appears to improve during the winter months.i am interested to find that this irksome condition has a name other than itchy arm , I believe that exposure to sun and use of heavy hand held machines has been the cause of my nerve damage and has led to the itching.i will visit my chiropractor next week and see if that helps but would be pleased to hear if any homeopathic solutions are available  asi don't like taking prescription meds.love from the UK x paul
1 Comments
Did the chiropractor help?
Avatar universal
I also have this and just went on gabapentin , it's the only thing that has helped.  I actually jus t slept through the nights 2 nights in a row since I started it two days ago. Hardly any itching,  give it a try
Avatar universal
I also have this and just went on gabapentin , it's the only thing that has helped.  I actually jus t slept through the nights 2 nights in a row since I started it two days ago. Hardly any itching,  give it a try
Avatar universal
I was diagnosed with BRP about 4 weeks ago.  My dermo gave me Doxepin and a topical steroid that gave me a serious allergic reaction.  For weeks, I had hives.  

She decided to take a biopsy.  The biopsy came back that I had features of Lupus.  Then the next step was to take a blood test to make certain that I didn't have Systemic Lupus.  The Systemic Lupus was negative.  Next, another biopsy was taken.  This test is called a Lupus Band Test.  I am positive!  I have Subcutaneous Lupus Erythematosus.  

There are medications that place this auto immune disease in remission.  I start my treatment today!!

My Lupus is sometimes itchy and therefore, I am warning other itchy armed individuals that you may want to have a biopsy and a test ran for this disease.  My dermo was surprised and is now taking this very seriously.  

I will have to have eye exams from a Optometrist once a year to check my retinas for deposits of the medication.  Also, I will have to have a blood test once a year to make sure I do not develop Systemic Lupus.  

I will make sure that I wear sunscreen with Zinc oxide, as well.  

I am a runner and an airline captain, that was not using sunscreen on my arms.  Only my face.  Of course, I used sunscreen when going to the pool or the beach.  Just need to use it always now.  And for my kiddos.  

Well, I hope this helps!  Sincerely, Emily
Avatar universal
I have had this horrendous itching afflication for 18 years.  It comes, goes and is localized on one or both upper arms.  My doctors have not been help and in the early days subtely suggested it was in my head.  I found a website about 6 years addressing a completely specific diease process, but someone there directed me to try capsaicin (cap-SAY-shun) cream.  It was a MIRACLE!!!  And by year 5, I did not have any itching at all.  Unfortunately, in the past few weeks the itching sensation has come back with a vegenance!  I started using the capsaicin cream again, but it doesn't seem as effective.  I am keeping it up and last night went without the cream.  Ice, cold compresses, and itch creams NEVER worked for me.  I highly recommend any sufferers of this awful condition give this a try!
Avatar universal
I have the same intense itching and have done so many things...I have had this for so many years and done so many things also. I
wondered how you were doing?
What have you done lately to help? Please advise
There are so many Dr.s who know nothing about this
535822 tn?1443980380
check out environmental allergies..ask for a Heavy Metal toxicity test
Avatar universal
Hi I have had the same problems and I am wondering how you are doing and what has worked?
Thank you
Ellyn

I am on gabapentim right now
Avatar universal
Hi guys
This disorder (disease?) has driven me crazy in the summer months for years. Sun damage is undoubtedly the cause. I've never tried prescription meds. The only thing I've found over the counter that helps is Eurax anti-itch cream (Crotamiton). It works in about 15 mins and repeated application relieves it to tolerable, but you must not scratch while it is working. Give it a try, I hope it works for someone. This can be such a horrible condition!
Rick
Avatar universal
Ive had BRP for about a year and a recent low back spasm put me down for a few days. During this time, I was itching my forearm, neck, legs etc to death. Waking up at night with my forearm on fire. So as I always do I put ice on it then go back to bed. My Dr. had prescribed my Flexerol 10mg for my back spasms. I started taking one pill about 7pm once a day and the itching has
Avatar universal
Ive had BRP for about a year and a recent low back spasm put me down for a few days. During this time, I was itching my forearm, neck, legs etc to death. Waking up at night with my forearm on fire. So as I always do I put ice on it then go back to bed. My Dr. had prescribed my Flexeril 10mg for my back spasms. I started taking one pill each evening at about 7pm once a day. I soon discovered by mistake that Flexeril actually made all my itching completely stop. After about 5 days of taking the meds, I stopped. So far little to no itching,  I have finally been able to get good quality sleep. I told my Doc about this and he said that Flexeril blocks nerve impulses to the brain. Anyhow,  I hate taking drugs but anybody knows that BRP isnt fun and it can affect many things in our lives.
Avatar universal
Ive had BRP for about a year and a recent low back spasm put me down for a few days. During this time, I was itching my forearm, neck, legs etc to death. Waking up at night with my forearm on fire. So as I always do I put ice on it then go back to bed. My Dr. had prescribed my Flexeril 10mg for my back spasms. I started taking one pill each evening at about 7pm once a day. I soon discovered by mistake that Flexeril actually made all my itching completely stop. After about 5 days of taking the meds, I stopped. So far little to no itching,  I have finally been able to get good quality sleep. I told my Doc about this and he said that Flexeril blocks nerve impulses to the brain. Anyhow,  I hate taking drugs but anybody knows that BRP isnt fun and it can affect many things in our lives.
Avatar universal
I have had BRP for about a year. Kept me awake for meny nights. The I accidentally discovered "Moringa seed oil."That is 3 weeks ago. I never had any proplems since then. (unless I forget to put it on.) Remember, it has to be 100% pure oil.
Avatar universal
I was going mad with the itching on my arms.  NOTHING seemed to work.  After a few years of this, I finally made an appointment with my dermatologist.  He took one look, and told me what is was.  Brachioradial Pruritus.  Previously, I had extensive cervical spine surgery.  He explained that many doctors are using gabapentin but he had something else for me to try.

He advised me to go to the drugstore and purchase a cream called Capsasian.  It is generally use to relieve arthritis pain.  It is ordorless, colorless.  Rub on arms 2 - 3 times per day and return after 2 weeks.  WOW!  I don't even have to use it more than once per day.  The idea of it is to block the nerve singals.

I have been using is for a few months now with excellent results.  The only recommendation I have is to either wear rubber gloves when applying or use a cotton ball.  Make sure to wash your hands good.  Should you touch your eyes, lips, or your bodies sensitive areas, it will burn like Bengay.

I strongly recommend this be tried before any thing else.  You might be surprised.
Avatar universal
I have also suffered from intensely itchy arms for 10 years and I was in tears and just today stumbled upon BRP as an answer...finally! I feel like I've hit the jackpot to just even have a name of a syndrome! I also was in a car wreck and have no neck curvature and super sore, tight shoulders which used to burn so badly they would almost go numb (just a year or so after the itching began). Did you ever come up with a connection between the two? I just scheduled a chiro exam today so I'm just starting out on this path. But hoping to find some answers...and some relief...very soon. Thanks for posting!
Avatar universal
I developed this skin rash, itch, burning on upper body AFTER my second
whiplash (car accident)...there is a definite correlation between this skin problem and the cervical nerves which are being impinged.  I was suffering
and on tons of gabapentin until I discovered an orthopedic chiropractor who
uses the cox technique (check internet for practitioners) and a laser on my neck.  Guess what - this problem disappeared after 2- 3 treatments.  
1 Comments
I just made appointment with Chiro who uses this technique..I'm crossing my fingers..personally I'm on the verge of killing my self...I cant stand this anymore.
Avatar universal
Hello fellow BRP sufferers.  This whole nonsense has to do with the dermatomes  from C-4, 5 and ennervate on your body.  Google 'dermatomes' and see exactly where your issue begins.   I have experienced all the same nastiness of this syndrome as you.  I thought I had scabies, dermatitis, psoriasis or some other crap,etc., People think you're insane, and I have scratched my self bloody and scabby too. I have scars all over my upper and lower arms.  All the topical stuff in the world for skin does not work, except for what i read about capsacin (sp), as it all has to do with nerve endings from your damaged C-5 and C-6 vertebrae, and impinged nerves.  Ice works becasue it dulls the nerve endings; so did gabapentin -ketoprofin cream you can get from your local compunding pharmacy.  What i found that worked for me, with no more creams, steriod injections, ice, and insane scratching is acupuncture, chiropractic, and if you can stand the heat, Bikram yoga.  My life is soooo much better now.  Gabapentin capsules made me gain 15 pounds, and they have undesirable side effects.  I have had to get off the expressway, and run into the gas station to get ice from the pop machine to rub on my arms, becasue the itching was so intense and relentless.  It is soooo wonderful to be free of this terrible affliction.  Now if I can just keep the arthritis at bay for a few more years!!!  Best of luck to you.
Avatar universal
I have today, based on 2 x biopsies, been diagnosed with brachioradial pruritus after 4 1/2 months of torture (lack of sleep and on fire upper arms).  Have also been advised there is no set treatment, just hit and miss bandaids.  I note that most of you quote damage to your spines with this, I am unaware of any spine damage.  Just to advise, I was given a can of beeswax last night which I have been using and have not had any intense itchiness since then, fingers crossed.
Avatar universal
I've been suffering with this for a couple of years. I don't have it all the time. I am fine for several weeks, then am afflicted for several days. Holding a bag of ice on it for half an hour or so will usually stop it for several hours, but it can be less than convenient, especially at night.

My wife and son get migraines, and I used to, so it suddenly occurred to me that maybe this was my version of a migraine. I've been trying taking Excedrin migraine (actually, generic equivalent), and I'm cautiously optimistic that it's working for me. Last night, it definitely worked. The itch started up and I popped two Excedrin migraines. I just barely contained myself from ripping my arm apart for about 15 minutes, then it stopped. It may be placebo effect, but if it works I don't care.

If anyone else tries this, I'd love to know if it helps them too.
Avatar universal
My dermatologist just read an article in a med magazine and the patient stated he has had relief for four years from ketamine, triptyline 0.5 %, 1% vanicream..it has helped unless I just stay out in the sun for a long period and it took about two weeks to really help a lot but I have been two weeks sleeping without ice so I am hoping that this is the ticket
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