Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Just Diagnosed with Cancer? Chat with Experts

Thursday, August 07, 2008 wanda, Community Member, asks

Q: Does Taxol cause severe itching in pts who already have dry skin.

I am experincing severe itching. This side effect happened after my first dose of Taxol. I am now on my third dose and the itching is getting progessively worse (especially at night).  Onolocogist does not believe it is related to the Taxol.  However, mentioned that chemo does cause dry skin. I was given a dose pak (helps relieve itching....in my case minor relieve experienced) after my 2nd treatment of Taxol because the itching was unbearable one night that I was in tears.

 

I am posting this question because I had my 3rd treatment yesterday and had a severe itching episode that night.  I have always had dry skin and use AmLaction to keep skin moist.  I am wondering if the chemo has intensified my dry skin to where it is now causing me to have severe itching. 

 

Please advise! 

Answer This
Answers (7)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
8/ 7/08 7:31am

Wanda, I'm surprised the oncologist doesn't believe the itching is related to the Taxol. Itching is a very typical and well-known sign of an allergic reaction to Taxol. I'd tell him this, and see what his reaction is. And ask if you can switch to another drug; perhaps Taxotere wouldn't give you the itchiness, but would offer the same benefits as Taxol? Of course, your doctor knows better than I the particulars of your case, but it's worth a try, asking him about an allergic reaction. I would doubt it has anything to do with dry skin; this sounds much too severe for that. Good luck - PJH

Reply
Lou Lou, Community Member
6/10/10 10:19pm

OMG!  The same thing happened to me after my first treatment of Taxol.  It starts with a burning sensation which develops into a severe itch.  It travels throughout my body.  If I wash my hands the itch starts in between my fingers and outside of my hands! It is unbearable, it seems to be concentrated, though, on my thighs and butt; however it travels all over except my face and neck!  I have been taking Benadryl like candy and the doctor prescribed many steroids and antihistamines, but they do not work.  They switched my chemo to taxotere, just yesterday, but I'm still itchy...I suppose it's because the taxol is still in my body, but the doctors seem to think it's not taxol, but still switched me to taxotere and they did not give my neulasta shot, just in case neulasta was causing this. This is unbearable!!!! 

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
6/11/10 5:17am

I certainly hope the switch allays that itching - how awful! Fingers crossed for you- PJH

Reply
Lou Lou, Community Member
7/18/10 10:59pm

Yes it does! The same thing happened to me...I had an all over itch with no rash. I was extremely miserable.  The doc switched me to Taxotere which gave me and itch and a rash.  On top the regular side effects associated with chemo I had to deal with that evil allergic reaction.  Finally I was given a different chemo drug and my body didn't react to it.  You should insist to be switched to something different.  At first my doctor didn't believe it was Taxol because the symptons didn't start until a week and half later, but it was Taxol...Taxotere is in the same family so you may get a reaction too, but you should still insist.  I know the misery you must be going through.  Good luck!

Reply
Cindy, Community Member
8/27/10 9:47am

Hi Lou Lou, thank you for sharing your experience.  After my 3rd doses of paclitaxel, I experienced severe itch at my back, buttock and angle area.  I am very devastated not knowing what to do for the 4th dose is scheduled on Monday 30 August 2010.  I am planning to discuss with my oncologist.  I am also thinking to stop chemo .... ??? as it is unbearable.  I believe you know what I meant !!   

 

Could you please let me know what was the alternate chemo drug that your oncologist now administering to you?  Thank you.  Awaiting for your reply.

 

Regards,

Cindy

Reply
Lou Lou, Community Member
8/27/10 1:21pm

Cindy,

 

Do not stop the treatment....talk to your oncologist and ask him/her to switch you to a different drug.  That's what mine did and I was fine.  The misery is so unbearable!  I took benadryl, steroids, creams etc...and NOTHING worked until they switched me. 

Reply
Cindy, Community Member
8/27/10 10:47pm

Hi Lou Lou, thank you for the advice.  Please kindly let me know what chemo drug have you switch to?  How often is the drug administered to you?  I have requested to the chemo nurse for me to consult my oncologist on Tuesday.  Thank you.

Reply
Meme, Community Member
10/16/10 6:08pm

Hi I just finished my last taxol treatment on September 30,2010 like everyone elese the iching started after the second infusion. It was not so bad mainly my hands but after the thrid treatment it was my feet,back,thighs and buttocks. After this last infusion it has brought me to tears and I have been taking benadryl which in my case knocks me out for a couple of hours. I needed this reply for my own sanity. Thanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
10/16/10 9:21pm

I hope the itching abates soon; it generally takes about a month for chemo to leave your system, so if you don't feel any better in 30 days, best to contact your oncologist and find out what you can take beyond Benadryl for relief, OK? Good luck - PJH

Reply
Patricia, Community Member
12/22/10 8:38am

A little late for you, but--I too have severe dry skin.  I did not receive Taxol, but did receive Taxotere.  I always get "winter itch" and use Sarna to alleviate that.  During my chemotherapy I have been told to moisturize, moisturize, moisterize.  I have been using CVS Pharmacy's Cocoa Butter in a large brown plastic container. (Very inexpensive)   I have not been experience any itching except on my bald head.  For that, I use Sarna.  Good luck!!

Reply
emichelle, Community Member
1/ 8/11 12:15am

I am approaching my 3rd treatment of Taxol...and I too experienced the incessant itching with my second treatment.  However, my oncologist told me she did not believe it was related to the taxol because I didn't experience it with the first treatment.  It started with my feet...in between my toes...and soon took over my entire body.  It know starts in between my fingers and goes to my back...I am in tears.  The only theing my nurse recommended was benadryl and benadryl cream...however I have to young sons and cannot stay "doped up" on benadryl all day every day.  My oncologist acts as if this has nothing to do with the taxol.  She kind of give off a "deal with it" attitude.  I am so glad to see that I am not crazy and this has happened.  Thank you all for the help!!!

 

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/ 8/11 6:09am

Terrible attitude from your oncologist - you might consider switching, if you can, since you're going to be dealing with this person for a long time. I'm betting this does have something to do with the taxol - after all, it can cause tingling and pain in hands and feet, so why not itching?

 

If the Benadryl helps at all, why not try Dayquil? It's for daytime use, so doesn't make you drowsy. You might try Claritin, too; either way, though, check it out with the chemo nurses or your onocologist first, as you always want to report any drugs you take "on the side" during chemo. Best of luck - hope the itching abates  soon. PJH

Reply
blackberryz, Community Member
2/28/11 3:59pm

I've had 3 treatments of taxol. my itching started a week after the 3rd treatment. The itching is All over, except my face - but mostly hands/fingers, legs, butt, and my back (especially when I'm driving).

  My oncologist has the same 'deal with it attitude' (which he has maintained since my first chemo treatment, and thru every side effect I have experienced - I WISH I could switch to another oncologist...)   Anyway, I mentioned the itching, and to no surprise he indicated he doesn't think it's related to the taxol...

I'm glad I found this forum!!

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
2/28/11 4:18pm

Don't you love that "deal with it" attitude? You're going to be with this guy for awhile - are you SURE you can't switch? I've known women who switch midstream with their treatment; it shouldn't be too much of an issue, if there's another oncologist who's taking new patients.

 

A lot of side effects we attribute to chemo aren't "known" side effects. But that doesn't mean they're not real. We each have our own chemo experience, and there's no predicting ahead of time what it's going to be... I hope you can find an antihistamine that helps (check with your onco before taking though, OK?) Take care- PJH

Reply
mamalu, Community Member
1/ 8/12 6:02pm

hi - i have breast cancer and just finished #6 of 8 treatments.  i too experienced intense horrible itching ( i would just weep) with taxol.  my doctor told me that this is normal with taxol to develop neuropathy and yes, itchiness is one of the side effects!  i couldnt take it one day so i called doctor and asked for something stronger than benadryl, she gave me a prescription for hydroxyzine - you can take 1-3 pills every 6 hours - and yes, they are strong - you get a loopy feeling - i did notice that their is still some itching but it is not as intense.  i pray that God give every person out there struggling with any illness strength to carry on,  HE is my strength and He has blessed me and my family immeasurably!!  i hope that this answer helps someone.  thanks for reading and God bless you!!

 

mamalu

 

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/ 8/12 9:31pm

Mamalu, thanks so much for sharing here - I'm sure your post will help anoher woman along the line, which is our goal here. And keep the faith - it'll pull you through. Peace - PJH

Reply
pinklady, Community Member
1/26/11 8:45pm

Hello All,

 

I too am dealing with the itching you've all described. As I write this, my hands are itching and burning terribly!!!! It began on the second treatment and I recently had a third. It is all over my body but especially the hands and feet. I have also tried all the antihistamines (claratin, benadryl oint. and tabs, atarax) but none of them worked. 

 

However, I did find some small relief from using Aveeno's Oatmeal Bath.

 

I will be speaking to my oncologist tomorrow morning about switching to Taxotere! Thanks so much for this info. Im glad to find that I'm not alone nor am I losing my mind. Most importantly, I'm elated to know that this will end.

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/26/11 10:14pm

I sure hope you get some relief - hopefully your oncologist or one of the chemo nurses will have encountered this before, and will be able to recommend something... PJH

Reply
Sonia, Community Member
6/22/11 5:44pm

OMG, I am so glad its not just me.  I have experienced severe itching with Taxol.  My oncologist switched me to this from Taxatere because it was too much for me.  However, the itching I am experience like some of you have alluded to, is unbearable and I have cried at times.  I had my last 'blast' two weeks ago.  Does anyone know when it actually leaves your system?  I cannot bear this for much long.  I am using Eurax cream and piriton.  I do not have dry skin

Reply
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
6/22/11 6:29pm

Itching with Taxol and Taxotere is not uncommon, especially in the hands and feet.  In some cases, the itching is relieved by antihistamines, but don't take those unless your doctor OK's it.  Some people find some relief with super rich skin moisturizers like Udder Cream.  Talk to the nurse as well as the doctor at your next appointment.  Sometimes the nurses have more practical tips for coping than the doctors.  I'm sorry you are having such a terrible time.  Hang in there.

Reply
Cheekkey, Community Member
3/ 4/12 1:45pm

hi-i was diagnosed in oct of 2011. i've gone through the fec treatments and have 5 of 12 weekly treatments to go. i was on taxol and herceptin and my dr switched me to abraxane and herceptin after i told her about the itching of my hands and feet which didnt present itself until after my 4th treatment. i will say the 1st 3 treatments i was still on steroids intravenously, and the 4th i received a lower dosage. since i showed no side effects i was taken off the steroids altogether. i too like some just want to cry because the itching is so unbearable. benadryl nor atarax works. only relief i get is from ice packs. i also notice the itching of my hands and feet start when i up moving around for example at work or when i go to the grocery store. as long as im being still, i am fine. i am staying positive, prayerful and faithful. its good to know i am not alone.

Reply
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
3/ 4/12 6:18pm

Yes, it does help to know that others have similar side effects, doesn't it?  Keep using the cold packs, but make sure you move them around so that you don't get frostbite.  Be sure you report the continued problem to the doctor.  They may have some more tricks up their sleeve.  Have they recommended a good moisturizer/ointment for your skin?  Hold on to the fact that you are more than halfway done now.  You have gotten this far, so you can make it the rest of the way.

Reply
NR, Community Member
6/11/12 1:11pm

I am also experiencing unbearable itching all over my body, but in my case it started over a month after my last chemo treatment (TC-H).  Nothing so far has helped (Benedryl, Claritin, Hydroxyzine) and I've been up night after night trying unsuccessfully not to scratch myself bloody.  Is it possible that this is a long-term reaction to the chemo?

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
6/11/12 2:38pm

Anything's possible with chemo - and so much of it is still a mystery, as far as side effects go. Why do some people experience horrendous side effects, and some barely any at all? It seems we all have our own personal experience, and this itching might very well be yours, unfortunately. I imagine you've spoken withyour oncologist (and his/her nurses, and the chemo nurses), right? I hope they find a solution for y ou soon. In the meantime, have you tried an Aveeno bath? Ask your oncologist about Aveeno, it used to help with my all-over itching a lot... Take care - PJH

Reply
NR, Community Member
6/13/12 1:00am

I finally started taking steroids yesterday, something I had hoped to avoid because of the side effects from long-term use.  It's dexamethasone, which I was on whenever I got chemo.  It did the trick, then and now - the itching has been gone since I started it yesterday afternoon!

Unfortunately, this is treating the symptoms and not the cause, and I'm afraid as soon as I stop the steroids the itching will come right back.  Has anybody else gone this route?

It's scary how little is really known about how chemotherapy affects the body. We know it's going everywhere and killing all kinds of cells, but that's about it!

Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
6/13/12 5:18am

Someday, in the future, we'll look at chemo, and think, "What a barbaric treatment!" Slash (surgery), poison (chemo), burn (radiation)... But for now - we really have no choice but to take all the bad along with the good. I'm so glad the dexamethasone worked for you; maybe it'll break the cycle, and when you go off it, the itching will be gone. Here's hoping - PJH

Reply
Answer This

Important:
We hope you find this general health information helpful. Please note however, that this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. No information in the Answers above is intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The views expressed in the Answers above belong to the individuals who posted them and do not necessarily reflect the views of Remedy Health Media. Remedy Health Media does not review or edit content posted by our community members, but reserves the right to remove any material it deems inappropriate.

By wanda, Community Member— Last Modified: 06/13/12, First Published: 08/07/08