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Avatar universal

Burning, prickly, itchy skin

My husband age 59 has been experiencing burning, prickly itchy skin at random times but mostly during the evening.  He has the sensation of pins and needles pricking his skin from the inside out.  This mostly occurs on his arms or legs or back, but not concurrently. First it was his legs then it moved to his back and currently the problem is on his arms. The sensation will be symetrical, i.e. both arms. The prickling turns into severe itching with sensations of pin pricking pain. Once the itching starts it is very hard to control.  He has used ice, benedryl, anti itch creams and Zyrtec. His allergy tests by blood were negative. Skin can become dry and rough although no visable rash.
81 Responses
563773 tn?1374250139

Itchy skin can be a manifestation of eczema,psoriasis, internal diseases like liver and kidney disorders,diabetes, iron deficiency anemia, irritation and allergic reactions to chemicals,wool,soaps,cosmetics and certain foods.

But these pins and needles sensations are different.They are called parasthesia and are common in alcoholics and metabolic disorders like diabetes, hypothyroidism, and hypoparathyroidismThey can also be due to peripheral vascular disease, vitamin B12 deficiency or malnutrition.
Get your husband’s blood sugar and thyroid hormones levels evaluated.He can take some vit B12 for some days and see if the symptoms are gone or not. In case the symptoms persist then pls consult a neurologist as it can be due to some neurological disorder. Common disorders causing paraesthesias are rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome transient ischemic attack, motor neurone disease, or autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis or lupus erythematosus. A diagnostic evaluation by a doctor is necessary to rule these out.

Treatment will depend on the diagnosis.

Hope it helps.Take care and pls do keep me posted on how your husband is doing or if you have any additional doubts.

Avatar universal
I'm 25 and over the past few weeks I've been getting a prickly-itch all over my shoulders and upper back. It's like tiny independent little pricks or itches all over my back/shoulders even when I'm just sitting still. I can hardly have my hair touching my skin & even soft cotton irritates my back. I try not to scratch, it leaves  aburning pain for a few  seconds or so when I do scratch, but I can ahrdly even wear clothing. It's just constantly uncomfortable. It's worst at night (it's 2:34 am and it starts getting bad in the later evening and is very uncomfortable now). Lately I've been getting this in the morning.

No new meds, foods, exposures, clothing, body or hair products either.

Please help!

Avatar universal
Hi Prickly,
I have same symptoms that you described.. Prickly itch is mostly on back, lower abdomen and shoulders.. Though I have general itch all over my body since past few weeks... I went to doctor & he gave me a cream to apply. and asked me stop using my current lotion/cream on arms legs.. It helped temporarily but now the itch has spread to entire body and not just arms n legs..
Did you take any medicine? Is your condition any better. Please advice.
Avatar universal
I am 34 years old and have had this sensation since the summer of 2009, doctors thought it was exzema (but I did not fit the symtpoms).  I get prickly feeling throughout my body as wel, it is worse on my back and shoulders.  I try to ignore it.  I find sometimes stress and anxiety makes it worse.,  I have been using Aveeno cream and it has helped, but I still feel the individual pin-like sensation going in and out of my skin.  I am alittle worried because I heard this could be a sign of lymphoma--have you heard of this?
Avatar universal
Please I feel like I am going out of my mind. Last year I develop round red spots to my lower legs that are consisted of psoriasis per my dr. I have tried every cream possiable. It has know spread throughout my body. I aslo started burning from the inside out and my skin feelslike it is on fire. It feels like a prickly itch. This has become difficult. Ihave always wander if having a water softener would help. I currently looking for a md to actually test for psoriasis and lupus.
Avatar universal
i have the same problem and ive had it for like 5 years and it *****. i cant even work at a job becuase of this crap. i do not kno what to do about it, it makes me feel like i'd rather be dead. this is like hell when the itching starts cause it feels like im on fire. i went to the doctor a while back and they just gave me a depressent medicine. i cant stand this. i really need some help or need some cold air. ialso use to smoke weed and that really helped me out because when u smoke it goes away, idont kno how but the whole time your high you do not feel it anymore. but know im about to b on probation and i dont smoke anymore and its back. but marijauna does really help it out.
Avatar universal
My back began to itch like crazy on Mother's Day this year 2010...i thought i had food poison from shrimp i ate...next day my whole body, head back legs pelvic bone ankles....an itch that could not be ignored..i tired penicillin, benadryl, calamine
lotion and aqua chi detox bath...THE ONLY THING THAT HELPED AFTER RESEARCH, WAS B12 VITAMINS...The itch is occuring in the nervous system. Try it..it worked for me...
Avatar universal
The symptions a lot of you describe sounds like what I go through with my left upper arm.  This happened last summer & started on my lower left arm then moved up.  I work outside along the Gulf Coast & in the sun & high temps all day.  It cleared up when cooler weather set in last year but it has returned again this summer.  I thought it had started last summer because of an old leaky camper I was living in until I found a home to buy.  The camper had some mold & mildew on the ceiling & walls.  I would wake up from scratching my arm.  It starts with a mild itch, then once you scratch just a little it starts a prickly, warm burning feeling that causes me to scratch more, then of course the pricks & burning get worse.  I literally end up scratching my arm raw leaving sores.
I have tried all kinds of anti-itch creams & lotions.  They work a few seconds & that is it.  Putting ice to it seems to be the only relief.  I have to use 2-3 cubes of ice to make it stop.  
It is coming close to the end of July & all I can hope for is cooler weather to hurry up & get here so hopefully it will stop again.
I am sitting here tonight looking up possible causes, not wanting to go to bed because afraid I will disturb my husband with the scratching.
Avatar universal
I was born in Africa where I spend both my childhood and part of my adulthhood. I came to Europe on  October 2009 to continue my education.
   During the month of December 2009 when the winter came I started feeling itching and burning sensation in my body expecially when I just came in from cold enviroment. I cant even stay in a hot room.
    Also when I travelled to other city or region in Europe and shower with the different water and soap, I feel the same itching and burning sensation in my body and sometimes dizziness.
   Furthermore,  I also feel these skin itching and burning sensation during the summer holiday but not so intesive compare to the winter season. I have been using sensitive shower gel, cream and Laundry detergent both to no avail, but If I mistakenly uses non sensitive both cream gel and detergent the feeling get worse.  
       Lastly these stange feeling itching and burning sensation do occur when I am anxious, positive/negative emotion and doing any kind of sport both indoor and outdoor.
      I will be very glad if my question is treated because the pain is to much and my laps leg are full of mark which I can even try to show a girl.
Best regard
Avatar universal
I had this itchy prickly feeling going on intermittenly all over with no real rash. My head was very bad, it felt as though I had bugs or something. In addition, I had some burning in the sole of my left foot. This started last April along with a number of other symptoms.
I had 1 round of food allergy tests. I was tested for only 40 food types. I had to request that I be tested for certain foods that they did not include. I had no visible rash so I do
not think the doctor took me seriously. I had a mild reaction to Chicken and Almonds.
Well, I ate chicken almost daily and I drank almond milk daily (because I am lactose intolerant and can't drink milk)!!! I also had a mild reaction to Corn and Peas. Well, corn
by products are in almost everything!
The doctor was not really impressed with the "mild" reaction because there is usually
a "larger" reaction (welt) when someone is allergic, he said. He did suggest stopping these foods to see what happened.  I did stop these. The itching lessened immediately.
Although the itching subsided, I still didn't feel totally itch free so I stopped eating Gluten
(Wheat, Rye & Barley). The results were amazing!!! My itching totally disappeared along with numerous other health issues.
You should keep a food diary to determine exactly what you are ingesting. Try to rotate out different foods to see if your symptoms change. You may want to get tested again for food allergies/intolerances/sensetivities (I think there may be differences between these). You may also want to examine the possibility of having "Leaky Gut Syndrome".
This may even be my problem. The whole subject is complicated!  You have to be dedicated and determined to helping yourself because this diet detection process is not easy. Going Gluten Free is difficult and expensive but if Gluten is a problem you have to do it. I hoped I helped. Good Luck!
Avatar universal
It's going on 3 years since your post so I don't know if you'll be reading this. Hopefully your husband has found some relief and if so, please share...

It has only been in the last month that I too have experienced similiar symptoms. So far it's only occured at night and has not been a nightly event...yet.

The prickly skin on my legs (usually starts above my knees and is mirrored exactly in both legs: symptoms, location, intensity) will wake me up and before long the prickly burning becomes an intense itch. What I've noticed is that it will burn and itch in one location and then spread to the lower portion of my legs...again mirrored exactly in each leg. I haven't noticed being hot or sweaty during any of these episodes, nor do my legs feel like they've fallen asleep. Oh, also if, for example, I scratch my right leg above the knee the itching intensifies, but it also intensifies in the left as well.

If this happens again, hopefully not, I will check my legs for redness, rash, or hives. However, I've never felt any bumps while scratching. I am fortunate in that it has only happened at night and symptoms have remained in my legs, however it is intense enough to wake and keep me up (at least until it subsides).  

I am amazed at the number of people I've read that are experiencing something similiar, but there are only a few that have stated that theirs is mirrored from one side of the body to the other. Are there any others with this particular symptom and how have you all been coping with it? Have your symptoms started in a localized area and as time goes on, spread to other areas?

I look forward to hearing from you and others...thanks in advance,
Avatar universal
I first started with the condition of generalized burning, itching, pricking and also at times smarting.  I truly sympathise with all who suffer from this condition of virtual torture.  Mine started on boxing day 2008 in an hotel in Cheshire UK.  I mistakenly thought at the time that I might have picked up something by way of an infestation  from relatives dogs or from the hotel bed. It started with a need to scratch in the middle of my back, but over a few weeks  worsened and became more generalized, culminating in me waking up in the night thinking someone had slipped a dead horses head in the bed. a la 'The Godfather' only to find that I had ripped up the inside of my left arm. This led me to take things more seriously.  On my first doctors visit (one of many), I asked for a prescription for Phenytoin, as this was a drug given to me by an emminent hospital neurologist, that cured me of an unexplained  malaria like ague with torrential sweating 20 years earlier.  My reason for asking for this drug is that I held the theory that sometimes the regulatory mechanisms controlling functions such as temperature regulation, sensory perception, endocrine controls etc, can all become disrupted by trauma or disease. He told me that phenytoin  is no longer prescribed and gave me the modern alternative. Gabapentin (Neurontin in the US).  This works for me and makes life bearable.  However, after over two years of various tests including liver, blood, neurological and other tests including ultrasound and CCT scans I am no further forward in finding a cure.  The Gabapentin works fine for me with few or no side effects other than giving me a slight lift in mood. I can get away with taking it from about five pm when the symptoms start to come on strong. It is said not to be addictive, but one could say that feeling even a little better from this disgusting condition, that seems to find difficult to empathise with, (many medic alike), may be said to be addictive.  That is to say addictive to 'trying to be normal'.  I am now relegated to a dermatologist who has pronounced that I have 'Idiopathic Generalized pruritus'. In other words she doesn't know. I now share the distinction of being a proud member of a group of patients that she tells me are the longest with her and the most unhappy.  But despair not.  You may find that Gabapentin, or the likes, works for you and in addition the knowledge that it does not load the liver and passes unchanged through the kidneys.  Also continuing research may crack this one sooner or later. Probably sooner with the accelerating strides being made recently.
My advise for what it's worth is to have liver function, pancreas, kidneys, and blood checked out after you have eliminated the obvious.  Don't get thinking that you have some nasty like lymphoma etc, as the chances are that you are suffering from one of dozens of other more probable causes. (and even lymphoma is  highly treatable these days)
Finally also, stay cool.  Getting wound up seems to just make it worse.
One positive result from the investigations that I had, was that on endoscopy they found that I had 'Barretts Esophagus' which is a pre-cancerous condition that is more likely to occur with GERD.  I will now be having this monitored every year or so.  I would advise that others check this out, as it is not to be ignored.
I do hope this helps in some way.  How distressing is this condition?
Do I know just!
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