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Severe Itching on arms

I have almost unbearable itching on my arms.  There are raised bumps, but they are not terribly noticeable until I have scratched them into bleeding and scabbing.  I've used Banadryl cream to no avail.  I have had some sun exposure (sunny Texas)but the rash preceded that.  I have had it for several months.

I have few allergies - Texas Mountain Cedar, cat dander, molds, but they typically present as respiratory or sinus complications, not dermatological.  I have an intolerance (not allergy) for ibuprophen, which caused me to have accute renal insufficiency several years ago (high levels of creatinine and BUN).

I am a 60 year-old, non-smoking female in very good health.  I do have managed hypertension.  I take three medications:  Premarin .625, Lisinopril-HCTZ 10/12.5, and Paxil 30 mg.  

Help!!
57 Responses
242489 tn?1210497213
MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
I'm not sure.  This doesn't sound like a typical rash, like eczema, nor does it sound like an allergy.  It reminds me of a self-perpetuating itch-scracth cycle.  What would happen if you left the area alone for a week and didn't scratch?  Why not try an over-the-counter anti-itch preparation like Sarna lotion, use it whenever needed, keep the skin moist with Vaseline or the equivalent, and show a skin doctor anything that remains (unless it goes away altogether, which it well may.)

Best.

Dr. Rockoff
Avatar universal
Hi, I have had a severe and chronic itch on my lower left arm for over a year.  The strange thing is that I do not have a rash.  I scratch until bleeding because it itches very badly.  I do not itch anywhere else.  Topical creams do not help. Can you help?  Thank You!!
Avatar universal
I have been reading a few questions on the severe itching on arms I also have this problem, just wanted to comment; I have been to see 5 doctors and no one has helped me yet, next week I am on my way to a new doctor, I have had chest x-rays, blood and urine tested, biopsy on both my arms, I have been given pills, creams, I just had an MRI and they found nothing in my neck to indicate my nerves are being bothered. Soooooo Now what??? it sure is frustrating. Any comment??
Cindy
Avatar universal
I am in my 60s and have had itchy arms for over 35 years. It started with a little itch on my upper arm. Then over the years it has gotten worse. I have it up and down both arms. I put ice on to ease the pain of the itch. I have been to so many Drs. over the years that I no longer seek help, I just scratch till I bleed and put ice on and pray that it stops. Since the condition started when I was young and healthy and taking no medication, I do not consider any medication that I take now to be the culprit. Sometimes when I wake in the mornings there is blood on my sheets from scratching in my sleep. I've used everything and only ice helps. I am so surprised that other people have the same condition (or shall I say curse?)
I find some comfort in this. Wouldn't it be wonderful if someone out there can help us?
Avatar universal
I have had the same symptoms that everyone has described.  Severe arm itching with bleeding for months.  It didn't start until sometime after I moved to DRY, HOT Arizona.  I have found (with a suggestion from my OB/GYN) that all of the items and activitives contributing to dehydration have been ultimate cause of my problem.  Caffine, dieuretics, very little liquids, stress etc..  I found that it takes a period of about two to three weeks of drinking (journaling helped) an appropriate / signifigant amount of water (up to one gallon or sixteen 8 ounce glasses of water a day -- for me.) to correct the problem.  Drinking the proper amount of water also corrected a few other problems, such as fatigue and constipation, I had less acne, and I found that drinking this amount of water also caused me to shed a few pounds by curbing my appetite and boosting my metabolism.  Again, this was after drinking up to a gallon of PLAIN water a day for approximately two to three weeks before I realized my results.  There are a few clues that your body has to help you decide whether you are drinking enough water -- If your urine has an odor or color to it -- the less concentrated your urine is the better off you are.  Obviously, the dry skin and itching are others.  It actually felt like I had a thin layer of dead skin on the tops of my arms.  I have found that when I fall back on my water consumption, the itching eventually returns.  I hope you will find relief as I did.
Avatar universal
I also have intense itching on my arms with no cause to be found.  One spot will itch so intensely, even though I try not to scratch I end up rubbing it raw. Drs can find no helpful solutions - no creams, no pills. Glad to know I am not alone, but would really like some relief. My arms are covered with scars now. It seems to be working its way from my forearms now to include my upper arms.
Avatar universal
I am a 47 y.o. athletic female who has the stinging, prickly, itch on my arms for a year now.  Luckily, I found a solution!  It started on my right shoulder and gradually (over 6 months) spread to my left shoulder and both forearms.  I couldn't sleep well, had scabs from itching, and lived in ice packs.  The dermatologist gave me several creams which only relieved the stinging itch temporarily.  I was getting extremely irritable...nothing seemed to help except ice.  The dermatologist finally diagnosed me with brachial-radial puritis, and told me to stay out of the sun.  That didn't help either.  I went on line and found 2 articles, both which stated that a compressed nerve could possibly be causing the symptoms, and that some people obtained relief with chiropractic care. I had an MRI which showed 2 slightly bulging cervical disks.  I immediately made an appointment with a chiropractor and the symptoms began to resolve immediatley--the same day.  I have never used ice packs since! All symptoms were gone within 2 weeks.  I also decided to get massages weekly to relax my shoulder muscles.  Presently, I see the chiropractor once every 1-2 months for maintenance.  I also reduced my weight-lifting to keep my neck and shoulder muscles more relaxed.  I highly recommend the chiro care and stick with it!
Avatar universal
Hello!  I found this thread most interesting since I have had a problem with this, although different in some ways from what I'm reading here.  The itch was excruciating and I couldn't possibly resist scratching, even though it made matters worse.  I tried everything: changing laundry detergent, giving up perfumes, drinking more water, etc.  No anti-itch products helped nor did talcum powder.

The first time it happened it lasted for over 6 months; the rash covered the insides of both my arms and both breasts and the lower part of my chest. It was aggravated by wearing long sleeves and warm clothes which were necessary with it being the winter months.

The next time I was convinced I had shingles and saw a doctor.  It covered the insides of both arms, breasts and part of my upper hips. The dr. prescribed a cream which didn't help and said he thought it was viral.

The last time this happened a friend told me to try a medicated powder like Gold Bond.  I did and it cleared up almost immediately.  During the time I waited to see if the powder helped, I realized that this seemed connected to my having night sweats.  I'm a 43 year old woman but already postmenopausal.  I was on HRT the first time the rash occured but still had night sweats.  I realized the itchy places were tender areas of skin, especially areas that didn't get to "breathe" at night since I am a side and/or belly sleeper.

But using the powder cleared up the last episode and using it daily seems to have prevented it, although I noticed a couple of times when it seemed about to flare up again --clammy skin, a stinging sensation...  

What you ladies have may or may not be the same thing I've suffered with, but a medicated powder may be worth a try.  In my case I think lotions, creams, or Vaseline do more harm than good --with all respect to the doctor here.

I hope that helps someone, and I hope you find the help you need!!
Avatar universal
We may know what this is..........
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***@****
Avatar universal
Iam a 45 year old female.  Five years ago I started with severe itching on my arms mostly at night but sometimes during the day.  It starts around June July and stops around Christmas.  Creans do not work, I am allergic to antihistamin and ibuprophen does not work on me for anything.  I had an allergy test which showed  an allergy to belladonna, but when I stopped eating potatoes tomatoes and peppers etc it made no difference.  This year it has been worse than ever and I cannot sleep with it.  I go to sleep and within an hour and a half I am scratching in my sleep so badly it wakes my husband and after another half hour I am wide awake.  I also scratch till I bleed mostly in my sleep and also have so called hot spots where part of my ars are very very hot and turn almost purple.  The doctor told me to cut my nails stop scrating and use the creams she gave me which do not really help, and that I am unlikely to find out what the cause is.  The scrating can be relieved by using ice, but after this makes my arms feel as though they are bruised and very sore to touch.  The lack of sleep makes it worse, but I can not get through to my doctor just how bad it is.  I think they just think of it as an itch but it is far more than that.  Having a bath with dead sea salts is about th only thing that relieves it, or sitting outside when it is cold till I am absolutely freezing.  I am waiting to see a dermatologist but looks like my appointment will be January when I don't usually suffer much......
Avatar universal
I am a 45 year old female with itchy arms. My symptoms soud the same as everyone else. I cannot sleep with it though and this really make me crabby. I can not make anyone understand that is is not just an itch including my doctor. I also have hot spots where a part of my arm burns like mad and turns almost purple.  Ice again is about the only thing that helps.  I have suffered for five years but only from June to December each year. It is nice to know I am not alone I was begging to think I was I was loosing the plot
Avatar universal
I understand the itching part, I just don't know why. I've had itchy hands and feet constantly for a week now. Ocasionally it spreads to my arms and legs. I have no idea what's going on. If you find an answer to your itching problems let me know. This is as close as I get to going to the doctor.
Avatar universal
I have had itching arms for five years.I was asking the pharmacist about the itching.He told me that it was probably my nerves,so he told me that I should try Neurontin. I went to my doctor and told him about it.I have been taking it for about 2 weeks.I started out at 300mg,it seemed not to be workig that well so I am taking 600mg. I am sleeping at night without waking up with my arms itching.I hope this info might be some help.                                                                                    Heidi
Avatar universal
I have had itching arms for five years.I was asking the pharmacist about the itching.He told me that it was probably my nerves,so he told me that I should try Neurontin. I went to my doctor and told him about it.I have been taking it for about 2 weeks.I started out at 300mg,it seemed not to be workig that well so I am taking 600mg. I am sleeping at night without waking up with my arms itching.I hope this info might be some help.                                                                                    Heidi
Avatar universal
I am also suffering from a recurring severe itching on my forearms. I always scratch it until it becomes painful and bleeds. This slight pain is more bearable than the itching.

This happened again yesterday, so I am researching it today. It started in the middle of the afternoon as a mild tingling sensation in the middle of the top of my left forearm. This soon turned into almost unbearable itching.

The area was about 2" long, 1" wide, reddened, and raised about 1/4" above the surrounding area. It felt as though there was a hard lump below the skin. Squeezing the area produced some clear watery liquid through the surface of the skin.

Today I have perhaps 25 very small scabs in exactly the area where I was scratching yesterday. These are about 1/16" to 1/8" across and barely raised.

The swelling and itching are completely gone. There is a slight pain to the touch, probably from scratching so much. No fliud comes out anywhere when squeezed.

I have no idea what causes this. I looked up shingles and it seems similar, but there are no blisters beforehand, and it always occurs on my forearms. Shingles is usually on the face or torso.

Have any of you ever had a similar rash anywhere other than your forearms - cold sores, shingles, herpes, zoster, etc?

Avatar universal
I forgot to mention, this seems to occur about once every three months or so.
Avatar universal
My itching started several years ago when I lived in the Chicagoland area.  Most of my itching had been confined to my arms.  Thankfully, I have never itched to the point of bleeding, but like so many other stories I have read about itching, little bumps would start to appear after I started to scratch.  To find out why the itching occurred, I began to watch what I ate.  (It never occurred to me to go to a doctor.)  After my own little scientific experiment, I isolated the itching to my caffeine/decaf intake.  Once I quit drinking caffeine or decaf, and substituted lots of water the itching stopped.  I moved to Arizona four years ago and found myself missing coffee and started drinking it again.  Unfortunately, my system had not changed, it still was not happy being exposed to large amounts of caffeine/decaf, and I would begin to itch on not only my arms but my legs as well.  If the need for coffee/coke/tea/caffeine/decaf arises, I may still have some, but I drink lots of water to flush out my system, which thankfully still eliminates the itching.
Avatar universal
My itching started several years ago when I lived in the Chicagoland area.  Most of my itching had been confined to my arms.  Thankfully, I have never itched to the point of bleeding, but like so many other stories I have read about itching, little bumps would start to appear after I started to scratch.  To find out why the itching occurred, I began to watch what I ate.  (It never occurred to me to go to a doctor.)  After my own little scientific experiment, I isolated the itching to my caffeine/decaf intake.  Once I quit drinking caffeine or decaf, and substituted lots of water the itching stopped.  I moved to Arizona four years ago and found myself missing coffee and started drinking it again.  Unfortunately, my system had not changed, it still was not happy being exposed to large amounts of caffeine/decaf, and I would begin to itch on not only my arms but my legs as well.  If the need for coffee/coke/tea/caffeine/decaf arises, I may still have some, but I drink lots of water to flush out my system, which thankfully still eliminates the itching.
Avatar universal
I have been reading about the severe itching some of you have had and wanted to share what happened to me. For several years, I had SEVERE itching on my upper arms and in my scalp. I had sores all over my arms, legs, and in my scalp and suffered constantly from the itching. After seeing many doctors and dermatologists, I finally went to an endocrinologist. When I walked in her office with my severe itching and sores, she stated:"That looks like a blood sugar problem." However, all my tests for diabetes were normal. She did further work, i.e., checking my C-peptide level and it was very high. Turns out I had a huge amount of insulin in my blood, not glucose. Glucose is what everyone checks for. Since I have been taking glucophage, which helps the pancreas utilize insulin, all those sores and the itching has stopped. Trust me, it was severe and the sores were painful, itchy, and nasty-looking. I have been trying to let others know about this because it is something most doctors do not check for. Good luck. I hope this helps someone. ***@****
Avatar universal
I have been reading about the severe itching some of you have had and wanted to share what happened to me. For several years, I had SEVERE itching on my upper arms and in my scalp. I had sores all over my arms, legs, and in my scalp and suffered constantly from the itching. After seeing many doctors and dermatologists, I finally went to an endocrinologist. When I walked in her office with my severe itching and sores, she stated:"That looks like a blood sugar problem." However, all my tests for diabetes were normal. She did further work, i.e., checking my C-peptide level and it was very high. Turns out I had a huge amount of insulin in my blood, not glucose. Glucose is what everyone checks for. Since I have been taking glucophage, which helps the pancreas utilize insulin, all those sores and the itching has stopped. Trust me, it was severe and the sores were painful, itchy, and nasty-looking. I have been trying to let others know about this because it is something most doctors do not check for. Good luck. I hope this helps someone. ***@****
Avatar universal
I have had a SEVERE itch on my arm now for about 2 years. It comes and goes.  It will be bad for a couple weeks and disapear for a few months and come back.  It really frustrates me because I itch to the point where i bleed and get terrible scabs and when I tell people and even my Dr's(i have been to MANY) they tell me to "stop itching."  It is so bad I sometimes feel i would rather have my arms cut off!! It is so much more then an itch.  I dont even know how to describe this.  I truly beleive that this deserves more attention becuase many people are suffering from it and no one is getting help!  I cant sleep at night when i get it and it is on the back of my mind throughout the day.  I have actually been out with freinds and had to go home because i couldnt bare to sit there and itch in front of everyone like a maniac.  This is not mental, it is some kind of disease and i am DYING to know what it is!!! Please someone help!!!
Avatar universal
I have had a SEVERE itch on my arm now for about 2 years. It comes and goes.  It will be bad for a couple weeks and disapear for a few months and come back.  It really frustrates me because I itch to the point where i bleed and get terrible scabs and when I tell people and even my Dr's(i have been to MANY) they tell me to "stop itching."  It is so bad I sometimes feel i would rather have my arms cut off!! It is so much more then an itch.  I dont even know how to describe this.  I truly beleive that this deserves more attention becuase many people are suffering from it and no one is getting help!  I cant sleep at night when i get it and it is on the back of my mind throughout the day.  I have actually been out with freinds and had to go home because i couldnt bare to sit there and itch in front of everyone like a maniac.  This is not mental, it is some kind of disease and i am DYING to know what it is!!! Please someone help!!!
Avatar universal
I have been reading a few questions on the severe itching on arms I also have this problem, just wanted to comment; I have been to see 7 doctors and no one has helped me yet.  Nothing besides an ice pack has provided lasting refiel until recently I had a toothache for which I used ora jeal and on impulse tried it on my arms which were itching as usual.  To my great surprise the itach stopped alomst immediately and stayed away for hours.  What a relief.
Avatar universal
I'm glad to know that other people have what we call in my family "itchy arm disease."  Sorry for your suffering since I know it well, but glad to know my family is not alone in this.  I had my first bout with it about 27 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. I had never had anything like it in my life but shortly before it started I'd had to get a smallpox booster for an overseas trip and that vaccination had itched worse than anything I'd ever imagined so I assumed that it had something to do with the subsequent problem. I had it pretty regularly for about twenty years, sometimes for months at a time and sometimes only once or twice a year. It did seem to have some relationship to sun exposure and dry skin. A few years ago in a conversation with my brothers and sisters I was surprised to discover that two of my brothers and one of my sisters had been dealing with the same problem for years so my vaccination obviously had nothing to do with it. All of us have allergies, mostly respiratory, but I think that may be a factor. Like other people who responded, doctors were unable to identify the cause.  I used all the remedies mentioned in the postings and found that ice was the only thing that really helped that itch that just about made me crazy. I've scratched with hair brushes and even fantasized about taking a fork to it, it can really, really made you nuts.  But I wanted to say that it apparently does not last forever because I haven't had it at all for about seven years. The doctors may not be able to treat it, but there is hope that it will go away eventually.
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