General Question

Breefield's avatar

Why do I itch so much?

Asked by Breefield (2723 points ) December 8th, 2009

So, last year I asked a question similar to this, something along the lines of “what’s wrong with me!” I’ll pose the question again, because this hasn’t gone away, it’s actually come back worse. I know it’s stupid to ask medical questions on the internet, but I’m not exactly looking for solutions so much as suggestions. Or maybe if someone has the exact same condition, to tell me what they’ve figured out.
I itch, at lot. At school when I get flustered I itch. When I laugh I itch. When I’m nervous I itch. If I’ve been out running and I come inside I itch.
I find that it only happens when I get warm – so the tiny classes at school which are pumped full of warm air are a nightmare.
Usually I’ll begin to feel a tingling here and there, my shoulders, hands, knees. Then the tingling becomes the need to itch, I feel hot, flustered, and usually end up removing my sweater (if I have one on, which I usually do). There is visible symptom on my skin, aside from turning a little red.
In order to relieve the…discomfort I’ll run outside if I can, usually striping down into my boxers (if I’m at home). At school I’ll usually stuff it for a bit, then when I can’t concentrate any longer I ask to go to the bathroom and then run outside to cool down.

Last time I asked this question I was suggested an antihistamine , as it was most likely an allergic reaction. I’ve tried this and it’s not done anything (no worries Shilolo, it was a great assessment). Last winter it was bad (when I asked the question) when it died down and I forgot about it all summer.
Now that it’s winter again, it’s coming back.

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32 Answers

stratman37's avatar

Have you tried taking Benedryl for it?

gemiwing's avatar

Call me crazy but something about this says autoimmune to me. Hmmm.

Some further questions-
Where specifically do you itch? Back of knee or front etc.
Do you get hives AT ALL whether they itch themselves or not.

You would do good to keep a trigger book with you. Write down what you’re doing when you have an episode. Include what you’ve eaten in the past few hours, anything you may have touched, any place you usually walk though. Be incredibly detailed. Something might stand out.

anon's avatar

Isn’t it just Winter Itch?

SeventhSense's avatar

I feel hot, flustered, and usually end up removing my sweater (if I have one on, which I usually do)
Could be an allergy to the sweater or certain fabrics?

stratman37's avatar

@SeventhSense, glad you brought that up, I had a severe allergic reaction to silk shirts. After taking a shower at the gym and coming back to work, that stuff would raise welts on me. Took me the longest time to figure it out.

Breefield's avatar

@SeventhSense It’s not one sweater or another, it’s just any extra layer.
@stratman37 Yes – no luck.
@anon I’d like to think so, but it’s much much worse than any winter itch I know of. It’s debilitating really. I can’t concentrate when it happens, and it’s in what you might call “episodes,” as opposed to a constant nuisance.
@gemiwing backs of shoulders, torso (chest), neck, knee caps, and thighs. Never the stomach, calves, or scalp.
I’ve never had hives before.
I’ll start keeping a log of this for sure.

SeventhSense's avatar

@stratman37
Ya I have real sensitive skin too and wear nothing synthetic, hate sweating under wool, only use completely fragrance free shower stuff and all natural deodorants. I’m actually surprised that we don’t have more skin conditions with the harsh shit we put on our bodies.
@Breefield
You should definitely see a dermatologist. I would also say avoid deodorant soap as well and use a pure non soap cleanser in the shower like Lubriderm.

anon's avatar

eHow
“Expect the intensity of the itching to be severe and to disrupt normal activities.”

I still say that’s your most likely candidate. You could try suggested treatments and see if they help any. Anything’s worth a go, right?

Breefield's avatar

@SeventhSense I’m hesitant to stop using facial soap, as it really helps keep my acne in check. I’m sure it’s drying out my face – but my face isn’t effected in these 10 – 15 minute episodes.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Breefield
That’s cool but as per the greater part of your epidermis that’s covered you might want to take a different approach.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Go to the doctor!

pjanaway's avatar

It could be psycological, or maybe its your detergent?

augustlan's avatar

I have similar issues (all year, but worse in the winter), but I do get hives sometimes. More accurately, one hive at a time. It’s very, very weird. I have super sensitive skin, and lots of auto-immune issues… my doc said this is one of them. Apparently, I’m reacting to my own sweat! And it’s not like I sweat a lot, either. Sadly, there’s not much I can do about it. I lotion up frequently, take warm rather than hot showers, and use fragrance free everything. It still happens. :/

gailcalled's avatar

I have a condition called dermatographism

“Dermatographism means the ability to write on the skin. People with this form of chronic urticaria are sensitive to touch and pressure, as well as scratching. The areas of skin that are touched or scratched get a raised, red and itchy rash. While many people with chronic urticaria have some features of dermatographism, people with true dermatographism have pressure as the only trigger for their symptoms.”

If I score an area on my arm or thigh, I can play tic-tac-toe; the welts come up within several seconds.

There are specific antihistimines (rx’s) for this condition. Since I gave up animal protein, it is much better. I took Zyrtec for years but have stopped now.

SeventhSense's avatar

@gailcalled
That is crazy cool. How does that affect intimacy? That seems like it would be quite debilitating. Is it triggered if someone scratches your back?

Sweetie26's avatar

I agree with gailcalled. I have that too. Glad I’m not the only one. :) and it can suck sometimes I use Zyrtec and it helps with the itching. Or if I take a bath with baking soda.

gailcalled's avatar

@SeventhSense : It is much less severe now…practically unnoticeable in recent years but yes…anyone scratching anywhere on me would raise welts and impossible-to-resist-itching. As it happens, Milo scratches enough to draw blood so that’s a different issue entirely.

He is at present my only SO, by the way. And my ex-realperson was not much of a scratcher.

SeventhSense's avatar

And you have a cat…
Get a Bunny with cotton slippers.

gailcalled's avatar

@SeventhSense: Milo here; Do not thinkof letting Gail hear that suggestion. And for your information, we have thousands of bunnies here in the nice weather. They afford me a good exercise unit. I would not take kindly with having one live in my architecturally important digs.

Darwin's avatar

Actually, people can be allergic to temperature and temperature changes.

My MIL used to get hives so badly that her eyes would swell shut when she was exposed to the cold. Thus, when she lived in Chicago my FIL would go start the car to get the heater working and my SO would wrap her in a blanket and carry her down the stairs to the now warm car.

And I cannot tolerate drastic temperature changes. I cannot go in saunas or even hot tubs, and I have to be careful coming into a warm room from the cold outdoors or I often have an asthma attack. I also have itching with temperature changes from cold to hot, especially when my skin is dry, so I no longer use soap. Instead I use Cetaphil and lots of unscented lotion. My mom always preferred Crisco to keep her skin from drying out and itching.

Also, the small arteries in the muscles usually open rapidly in response to high demand for blood, but in an unfit person arteries may not open properly, resulting in irritation of adjacent nerves and itching. This can also apply when you go from cold to hot surroundings and your arteries need to expand quickly to reduce body heat.

Then there is Cholinergic urticaria:

“These are red, swollen bumps or patches appearing on the skin as an allergic reaction to physical stimuli, such as the pressure of clothes, exercise, heat, sunlight, cold, vibration, water, spicy food, or emotional stress. The term cholinergic is borrowed from tests in which some individuals have reacted with urticaria to injection of acetylcholine.

Some people experience intense leg itch during walking, running, after a hot shower or in a hot environment in general. The exact cause is not known, but some of affected people have an allergy to their own sweat. Sweat triggers release of histamine causing itchiness in the legs or other parts of the body, warm skin, and small (up to 2–3 mm) bumpy hives, which usually persist from 30 minutes to 1–2 hours. Some of affected persons have positive patch test of their own sweat.

Treatment. Stopping exercise and removing some clothing is advised. A shower with lukewarm water can help you to cool down and remove irritant sweat. If itch does not stop, antihistamines, like hydroxyzine by mouth, may help.

Prevention. Do not exercise in hot humid weather. Take a shower before exercise to remove old sweat, use moisturizing creme after the shower to prevent drying the skin. Wear light, airy, cotton-fabric sports wear. Wash new underwear or sports wear before the first use to prevent any reaction to fabric dyes.”

SeventhSense's avatar

Cat people..shees…

Breefield's avatar

I’ve taken Benedryl every morning for the last 3 days. I’ve only had 1 or two episodes, both after lunch (by the time the Benedryl had time to wear off). So…now what :p I can’t keep taking this forever…

augustlan's avatar

Check with your doctor to see if there is something you can take everyday that will do the job.

Darwin's avatar

@Breefield – Actually my dogs and I do take Benedryl every day, or what amounts to as forever. However, if you have medical insurance, including prescription coverage, your doctor will be happy to prescribe a different antihistamine, one that won’t make you as sleepy (although that effect with Benedryl does fade away over time).

Breefield's avatar

That’s what I’m afraid of, I don’t really want to gain a tolerance to Benedryl.

Darwin's avatar

The Benedryl will still work as an antihistamine. It just won’t make you sleepy any more.

Breefield's avatar

Ah, neato.

ultimatestar's avatar

when’s the last time you’ve had a shower?

Breefield's avatar

I love that this was the second question you ever replied to. Pretty snarky.

braago's avatar

I am going through the same problem. My primary physician referred me to specialists and I have seen 4 demartologists, yet, they could not find what the problem is. I have done biopsy and the only thing they found was dry skin, which I have had all my life. I itch when I laugh, walk for about four minutes, sneeze, go to rooms that the temperature is above 70 degrees.

I have changed my washing detergent, soap, body lotion, beddings etc. It is really a mess and next to hell.

Breefield's avatar

Seriously. Mine has slowly gone away as we move into spring, but damn, it’s still pretty terrible.

K9Bridge's avatar

I have this problem also but mostly through the winter months and after I shower, or anytime I get hot. AND always at night in bed…. I use nothing with any fragrance (this is what doctor suggested) and it helps but I still have issues. I keep chewable Children’s Benadryl in my purse for really bad episodes and try to suffer through the others. I’ve been know to get up and put ice packs on my neck and chest—I’m affected there worse than anywhere else. I HATE IT…and even the doctor has not helped.

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