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Friday, January 08, 2010 jomo1960, Community Member, asks

Q: Itching after mastectomy

Has anyone that has had a mastectomy experienced itching in the area, but under the skin? My skin is numb and the itching seems to be from under it. I had Inflammatory Brease Cancer and experienced itching in the breast then. My Mastectomy was 1-28-09. Just wondered if I should call my breast surgeon or if anyone had this and maybe just the dry cold air? thanks.

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Answers (24)
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/ 8/10 11:54am

Hi - Itching underneath the skin wouldn't seem to be caused by external circumstances (e.g., cold air); but it might very well be a latent nerve issue from the surgery. I'd report this symptom to both your oncologist, and your breast surgeon; see what they say. Once you've had breast cancer, you should always report any new breast symptoms as a matter of course - just to be sure. Good luck - PJH

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jomo1960, Community Member
1/ 8/10 12:26pm

Thanks PJ. I left message for both. Just wondered if anyone else had experienced this. My husband said it is probably from healing but surgery was a year ago. Radiation finished in April 09. I can't feel anything on the skin so having the itching under the skin is irritating. It is probably nothing but can't hurt to ask. Thanks.

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
1/ 9/10 7:55am

I've had lots of weird sensations in my mastectomy area that change over time.  Radiated skin will continue to change for a long time after treatment.  Itching is not unusual along scar lines.  But since this is a recent development a long time after  your surgery and radiation, your decision to call the doctor is a wise one.  As an IBC survivor who also had itching as an early symptom, I also get worried when I have itching in my good breast or surgery area; but so far everything has checked out OK.  I hope you also get good news.

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jomo1960, Community Member
1/ 9/10 11:00am

Thanks Phylis. I heard from the nurse of my Oncologist and she suggested using lotion as my skin may be dry because of the cold here. She also mentioned the nerve endings. Since the skin is numb when I touch it, who knows? I did put the lotion on and it seems to have calmed down. I didn't hear from the nurse at the breast surgeon but because of the snow/ice in Atlanta, she may not have gotten into work. Hopefully I'll hear from her on Monday. The itching isn't really on the scar line, more on the area under my arm where the lymph nodes were removed. You give me hope since you are an IBC survivor and pray you also stay that way. :)

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Helen, Community Member
5/29/10 6:15pm

I have recently had itching in the same area as you, underneath my arm where its faily numb after removeable of the lymph nodes and my breast, which was in 1997. I live in Cyprus and its warm this is the first time that this has happened. I have tried ointment for insect bites as it stops itching, this seems to help but starts to come back after a few hours. I also had radiotherapy in 1998.its starting to worry me now and will see what my oncologist says, glad I'm not on my own, thanks Helen

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BETTY WILLIAMS, Community Member
7/21/10 3:02pm

HI, I AM HAVING ITCHING IN MY RIGHT BREAST FROM MASTECTOMY, I HAD MINE IN 1982, I STILL HAVE ITCHING, I HAVE IT ON THE BREAST AND UNDER ARM, I HAD RECONSTRUCTION IN 1983, IT IS BAD YOU CANT FIND WHERE YOU ARE ITCHING.  I HAVE TRYED HYDROCORTISONE, IT HELPS SOME, MINE STAYS A FEW DAYS AND MAY NOT COME BACK FOR MONTHS, BLESS ALL OF YOU  WHO GO THRU THIS..

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
7/21/10 3:27pm

Betty, seems like so many of us experience this. I thought mine was from chemo, but perhaps it's simply nerve damage from mastectomy? It's been 10 years... Thanks for sharing your experience. It's nice to know none of us is crazy! PJH

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Kacy, Community Member
1/14/10 10:00am

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I had a double mastectomy in February 09 with silicone implant reconstruction.  I have had many itches I cannot itch that are deep under the skin!! It is VERY annoying!  I was told that the nerves are regenerating.  It is most frustrating to be woke up in the middle of the night and unable to scratch the itch.  One night I even took a pain pill... I am not sure if I just fell asleep or if the pill helped!  I also get an itch on the back of my arm where I have numbness from the lymph nodes being removed, that I am unable to sooth.

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jomo1960, Community Member
1/14/10 5:21pm

Doc said to use Benadryl and put lotion on the skin and it has helped. The skin is dry and the cold is making the nerves spasm. They have helped. Doc said time to worry is when area gets red and there is warmth, like a fever.

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Katherine, Community Member
1/14/10 11:22am

I had this also. I believe it is from the nerves. What worked for me was icepacks. You can't scratch the itch but numbing it helped a lot. Just remember to not leave the ice on too long. Only about 20 min very hour. Also be sure to have a protective barrier (towel) between the ice and your skin.

Katherine

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baldwin, Community Member
5/ 7/12 9:23pm
Thank you. I had not heard about the ice, but I'll try it as I was kept awae all night last night with the itching. Reply
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
5/ 8/12 5:37am

Although itching is common as incisions heal, do let your doctor know that yours is severe enough to keep you awake at night.  The surgeon might want to take a look and make sure it is all healing OK.  In the meantime the ice for short periods can help.  If the incision is mainly healed, cream to keep the area soft and flexible can be a good idea.  Ask the doctor's nurse if there is a particular one that would be best for you.  Some people shouldn't use the anti-itch products with cortisone in them because of other health issues.

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BarbaraR, Community Member
1/14/10 12:36pm

Hi.   I, too have experienced "something" that seems to be under the skin.   I had a mastectomy in Sept 09.   The sensation is across the top from the armpit to the center of my chest.   It almost feels like a sunburn.

 

My doctor said it is the nerve endings - but he thought they shouldnt still be "tender" after 4 months.   He used a local anesthetic - with the hopes that it would break the cycle - and alleviate the irritation.   It hasnt helped.   I go back in another week and will know more then.

 

I feel silly complaining about something so uneventful - after everything I have been through, but my doctor has been wonderful - and he said to complain away - that even I have a right to feel 100% good. 

 

Smile

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/14/10 2:05pm

I like your doctor's attitude. And he's right - our doctors WANT us to feel better, so mentioning symptoms is NOT complaining; it's sharing. Best of luck - hope you (ALL of you on this post) feel better soon! PJH

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Kacy, Community Member
1/14/10 7:01pm

Are you taking tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors?  I had bone pain with tamoxifen, but my sister has a similar pain that you descried and she is taking arimidex. She was told it was a side effect and to take advil 3 times a day.

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BarbaraR, Community Member
1/15/10 10:17am

I am taking tamoxifen - and have the bone pain (in my legs).  My plastic surgeon isnt sure why the burning/itching is happening - he attributes it to the nerves healing.  

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Baldwin, Community Member
3/14/12 3:17pm
You have a wonderful doctor. I was told by a doctor of pharmacy to use cortisone cream and chew 3-4 pepcids as they have a histamine blocker. Bingo! This worked right away and i want to get this out to other women that were suffering like I was My doctors were of no help to me. Reply
Dallas, Community Member
1/25/13 9:55pm

I've found that anything with citric acid in it, causes the itching. It aggrivates the nerve endings from the surgery.  (bi-lateral mastectomy 2007). I pop benadryl when it occurs. I will try the pepcid tablets.I had no idea others experience this.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/26/13 6:39am

Interesting about the citric acid, Dallas - thanks for sharing that info. PJH

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Dallas, Community Member
1/25/13 9:55pm

I've found that anything with citric acid in it, causes the itching. It aggrivates the nerve endings from the surgery.  (bi-lateral mastectomy 2007). I pop benadryl when it occurs. I will try the pepcid tablets.I had no idea others experience this.

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Baldwin, Community Member
1/25/13 10:14pm
The Pepcid reaLy does help me almost anytime the itching starts. My PS and his nurses act like they have never heard this before, and that causes more stress for me thinking what could be wrong but if your surgery was in2007 and you sometimes still have the itching, I guess it is normal and seeing these other posts helps. Reply
Dallas, Community Member
1/25/13 10:21pm

I will try the Pepcid. I hope there is no citric acid in it. It's go to know I'm not alone.

 

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Baldwin, Community Member
1/25/13 10:32pm
Please let me know if it worked for you. I Also found that putting pressure onthe site thar itches helps. I will be fine for months at a time and then the itching will start. Reply
Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
1/26/13 6:46am

Itching is not unusual, even a long time after surgery.  Scar tissue can get worse over time, and for some people itching might be a response.  Other people report new pain and/or muscle cramps.  My surgeon told me to regularly massage around the incision.  The suggestion to apply pressure instead of scratching is a good one because scratching can irritate the tissue and just make the situation worse.  I hadn't heard of using antihistamines for itching around a scar, but it works for other types of itching, so it's worth a try.

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Baldwin, Community Member
1/26/13 8:08am

This site helped me because I was sure something was wrong because the doctor and nurses said that they didn't think it was usual to have itching 20 months after the surgery. But, mine only started almost a year after the surgery. Now, I see that many women have itching even years later.

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varick, Community Member
1/14/10 8:05pm

Me too! Me too! I thought it was just me! Thanks so much for asking this question. I know exactly what you mean. I had a bilateral mastectomy and DIEP flap reconstruction after chemo & radiation. I'm taking aromasin so I was interested to read that this might be a side effect of the medication.  For me, the itch is random and when it occurs, it doesn't last very long. For that I'm grateful. My biggest difficulty is the chronic leg pain I'm having.  It's keeping me from exercising or even walking very far... and the stairs are a huge challenge - especially walking down stairs.

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BarbaraR, Community Member
1/15/10 10:15am

Yes! The leg pain is awful - Cry - but gets better over time.   I had left side mastectomy with tram flap reconstruction.  I am on Tamoxifen.    At first the leg pain was soooo debilitating I didnt want to walk to the kitchen to get a glass of water!   I tried everything......Bananas during the day, a bar of soap under the bed sheets, a bottle of water before bedtime.   The water before bed wasnt a good idea, because then I didnt get any sleep - I was up constantly to go to the bathroom!   I hated to do the grocery shopping because it was so tiring & painful.

 

Over time (It has been 3 months on Tamoxifen; 4 months since surgery) the pain is much less.    It hasnt gone away completely but it is MUCH less.    Just push yourself to walk.  Walk around the house; up stairs; down stairs (I know the stairs are the biggest challenge) ...What ever you can do.   I live on a farm with a field in back, which is 1/3 mile around the fence.   Before winter set in, I was taking a lap every morning.  It is snow covered now, and I am only going out less than half-way & then back.  I am hoping by the time the snow melts, I will be strong enough to do a two laps! 

 

 

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deaikin, Community Member
1/16/10 2:22am

I also have something almost like a burning sensation along the surgery line but under the skin. It isn't all the time but when it started it was really intense, now when it comes it is not quite as bad. I've found that putting pressure on it seems to help. thankfully the pain goes away after a while. I talked to my surgeon and he said it was because the nerves were damaged, or maybe scaring was interferring. My surgery was 12-20-08, and this didn't start until sept 09. Don't know why it started then. I too am on tamoxifen since July.

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cancer bitch, Community Member
2/14/10 3:27pm

I know that some people have been helped by gabapentin (generic name for RX). I have intermittent itching three years after a mastectomy. This week has been the worst in a couple of years. I put tea tree oil and cortisone cream on it. The latter is helping a little. I take Atarax (antihistamine) around the clock for itching caused by a blood condition (polycythemia vera) and you'd think the Atarax would help the mastec. itching, but it doesn't seem to. My surgeon was rather indifferent when I mentioned this in January. I've been on tamox. since fall 2007.  I heard that massage would help, and I'll try ice.

Cancer Bitch

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jomo1960, Community Member
2/22/10 11:42pm

I take Gabapentin for Neuropathy caused by Taxol and it doesn't help the itching. I did see the Radiation Oncologist for my 6 month check last week and he said they really fried my skin so he's not surprised I have itching. He said to use Hydrocortosone. So far it is a little better. One thing I have noticed lately is the twitching of the muscles in the scarred area, especially under the arm. That goes on different times of the day and is annoying sometimes, and a little sore.

 

Thank you everyone for your responses. It is amazing when I think how the treatments have changed over the years. We women that go through this are amazing.


Johanna

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Sara, Community Member
4/27/10 11:46am

So I am not alone.

I had a mastectomy on March 2005. Never had any problem but now my arm pit (mastectomy side) becomes very itchy sometimes, especially in the morning. I was told it is because of nerve and should use cream on. Cream helps

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SandyE, Community Member
12/31/10 12:04am

I had my mastectomy in 2002, I chose bilateral.  I had reconstruction, partial tram flap on one side.  I get this in both armpits, sometimes along the other side of the breasts (towards the middle of my chest) and sometimes along the incision in my belly.  Thankfully I only get it one place at a time, but it can be so bad, it drives me crazy!!!   It is also under the skin as you have mentioned.  It is usually very specific in location, sometimes almost to a pin point.  To me it feels like someone is poking me with something very sharp from the inside.  I picture it as one of those little round things you find in the woods that have all those little sharp pointy things coming off of it.

The first year I would sometimes be doubled over in pain.  I tried Benadryl, Advil, Motrin, creams, etc.  Nothing works.  I take something at night to make me sleep, otherwise I don't.  The only thing that has helped is to avoid caffeine.  I did so for years, now that I am working outside the home (used to work at home), the smell of fresh coffee...  I have had just one cup a day but Mon-Fri for the past few weeks, and it started this week again.  I also noticed I have a headache, something I get when I don't drink coffee every day and go through caffeine withdrawl.  So I'm not drinking coffee and we'll see what happens.

I hate that I still have this after all these years, tonight it is really bad.   I just hope the lack of caffeine will fix me by tomorrow morning.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
12/31/10 6:23am

Sandy, did you have chemo, too? I have terrible itching, so bad sometimes I scratch myself in my sleep and end up bleeding... and I always attributed it to chemo. Maybe it's from the mastectomy? Who knows... I haven't noticed if stopping caffeine helps, though apparently it does help with other breast issues, like pain from cysts. Hope you find some relief somehow- PJH

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SandyE, Community Member
12/31/10 11:00am

I had chemo first, I was in a study on Herceptin.  Then I had my mastectomy, followed by radiation.  I didn't start reconstruction until a year later.  I had a partial tram on the left side (the one with cancer) because my skin was so damaged by radiation my plastic surgeon said it wouldn't stretch enough on it's own.  So I had expanders, then implants.  One time I pointed out to my plastic surgeon where the itching was, he felt it, and he said that's where the expanders were sitting.  With the tram surgery, I had drains, and one of them was in a semi-circle in my belly.  I've had the itching along that path.  Sometimes I have tried to figure out exactly where it is, and it's been right on a rib bone, other times right between 2 ribs, but pretty much in the same general area (armpit), so I figure it must be nerves.  I was told they regenerate very slowly.

Recently my kids were playing with Nerf guns and my daughter ended up shooting me in the boob.  I actually felt it, so I guess that's a good sign.

A friend told me about something called neurontin, it's a prescription, she read about it on the internet.

Last night I took a Benadryl and Motrin 800 and I slept good, very little pain this morning.  I'm going to try cutting out the caffeine.  When I have these attacks, it can go on for hours and I find it very tiring.  That's no way to live.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
12/31/10 2:32pm

Sandy, you've been through the mill - I'm sorry you've been through so much, and still suffering the residual side effects. But - you're still here for your children, which is a very, very good thing. I hope some doctor, somewhere (or you yourself) figure out something - or more likely a series of somethings - to help you feel better. Till then - live for the day. Happy New Year! Hope this one is better for you. PJH

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Baldwin, Community Member
1/24/12 4:00pm
I had a double mastectomy in April of 2011 and I am now having terrible itching mostly on the right side where they took lymph nodes. It can be under my arm and goes across the breast to center. I never had chemo or radiation. I am so glad to hear I am not alone. Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/24/12 4:06pm

Oftentimes this tuns out to be a nerve issue, and it ever-so-gradually gets better... I hope this is the case for you. You have my deepest sympathy! I went through this itching for months after my mastectomy... PJH

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/26/13 6:37am

You're definitely not alone. I had a mastectomy nearly 12 years ago, and it's only in the past year or so the itching has finally nearly disappeared, after being intermittently annoying. Time heals - but boy, does it EVER take a lonnnnng time in some cases! I hope that you find some relief soon. PJH

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Isabella, Community Member
1/24/11 2:15am

I had a mastectomy in 1995.  The nerve ending itched terribly for the first couple years after the surgery.  It is on the inside and cannot be scratched.  Putting pressure on it seems to help me the most.  The itching slowed down after that and now recently it has gotten worse again.  Not sure why it does this after all this time. 

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
1/24/11 6:05am

Isabella, I'm sure you've seen lots of changes since your surgery in 1995.  Usually changes are just part of healing or problems with scar tissue.  Since this is a change a long time after you healed from surgery, I'd suggest talking to the doctor about this.  

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phyllis, Community Member
5/ 4/11 4:06pm

I had a mastectomy in March of 2008 and have had two episodes of incessant itching around the breast area and by the scar tissue which I think is caused by nerves going off under the skin. I am in the 2nd day of the second itching episode and it is driving me crazy. I can't read or do anything without having the urge to reach to the breast area to relieve this incessant itching caused by nerve activity deep under that skin area. Have you found anything to relieve the itching?

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
5/ 4/11 4:14pm

This is a tough problem, as it's probably due to nerve damage and thus wouldn't respond to anything topical, like an itch cream. Have you asked your doctor about this? Perhaps Benadryl, Claritin, or similar would help? I've had intermittent itching for years, and I always laid it down to chemo, but it may be the mastectomy, too. Sorry you're having to go through this - PJH

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Cody B., Community Member
6/18/11 10:18am

This has happened to me again at the beginning of this week.  It seems strange to have an itching feeling on the inside.  This feeling was Monday evening and the next day.  After that my right breast was very hot.  This is the 3rd time since my double mastectomy in 2008 I have gotten this hot feeling there.  Once my dr had me have a MRI and although it is getting constricted and somewhat deformed the outcome was they didn't see anything for concern.  I'm beginning to wonder if somehow my body is rejecting the silicone implant or something like that.  I'm puzzled.  I'm also wondering if possibly down the road both implants will just have to come out.  I just don't know.  Anyone else ever have the very hot and feverishness on just one side?  Thanks, Cody B. 

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jomo1960, Community Member
6/18/11 12:01pm

Hi cody,

 

I still get the itching, all of the time, but my doctor told me if I ever felt the area hot and feverish to call. I still have not had reconstruction though so not sure about the inplants rejecting. The itching does help with Benedryl and using lotion. The radiation oncologist told me they really fried the area so I have alot of nerve damage. I now get rib pain and have had bone scan and CT and they just show changes from the radiation and surgery. I am now on Gabapentin (Neurontin) and Savella (for fibromyalgia) for nerve pain. I still have the itching so don't think they help.  Since I'm alive and almost 3 years cancer free, I will take the itching. :)

Good luck to you. I would have doctor check again if hot and feverish.

Johanna

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ChayaFradle, Community Member
9/13/11 10:13am

I'm 8 years out from bilateral, and every so often, the itching in the armpit, extending to the front chest and what used to be a "back boob" is excruciating.  It is happening even now.  I'm going to ask Kaiser, Permanente Breast cancer clinic and let you know what they say.  Love you all!  We are soldiers, aren't we, forever for a lifetime, even when they say the cancer is gone.Sealed

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ChayaFradle, Community Member
9/13/11 12:08pm

Laughing I FOUND THE ANSWER to severe itching on the mastectomy scar area and underarms. It worked for me, but you're an individual. Here are products I PUT ALL TOGETHER, but you can pick and choose if you want.  First, I took a very hot shower and scrubbed with the same antibacterial soap we needed to use before he surgery.  I figured it could be some little microscopic animal living under my skin. Smile.  Then, I put regular lotion on which has vitamin E, etc.  There are also creams with vitamin c.  The combination I used was:  over the counter cortizone cream, Vitamin A & D ointment, Desitin, Hugo Naturals Lemon Verbena & Bergamot lotion, After Sun Aloe Vera & Vit. E lotion, Calmoseptine ointment, Vicks Salve (has menthol and camphor), Calamine Lotion, and about three different muscle rubs (the kind you use for muscle pains). Actually, what worked the fastest was when I added the muscle rub things. You get a feeling of icy cold first, and then it burns, and then the itch is still a LITTLE there but tolerable.  Of course, consult with your doctor to be sure you're not allergic to any of the ingredients. I don't think when my doctor answers my e mail, he'd have any better suggestions.

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
9/13/11 3:28pm

Chaya, I'm so glad you found a combination that works for you.  As you advise, it is important to check with a doctor, especially about the cortisone cream.  Using cortisone creams over a period of time or large area of the skin may not be advised depending on what other medical conditions or medications a person is taking.

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ms. whit, Community Member
10/11/11 11:13pm

I had breast cancer in my right breast in Oct. 1980 and had it removed by a modified radical mastectomy.  Took chemotherapy for 12 months which was the procedure at that time. Had checkups every year, etc.  This past spring I started itching on the left side of the removed breast in the center of my chest between the breasts and it became red and purple. Went to my chemo doctor and he ordered a biopsy and sure enough it was the same type of breast cancer I had in 1980. Re-occuring after a thirty year absence. Now on a hormone type daily prescription to hopefully control it from spreading. Time will tell!

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
10/12/11 4:56am

Wow, that's really unusual - I'm so sorry you're having to go through cancer a second time. Thankfully, the treatments are vastly improved over what they were 30 years ago. And hopefully, the hormone therapy will take care of it... we wish you well as you undertake the journey again. PJH

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ms. whit, Community Member
10/14/11 2:05pm

Thank you for replying. Have Oct. 24 Dr. Appt. Will be updated about my hormone treatment.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
10/14/11 9:17pm

Best of luck to you, Ms. W - please keep us updated on how you're doing... PJH

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asig88, Community Member
11/11/11 7:45pm

So glad to hear others are experiencing the same sensation that just started for me yesterday - an itching sensation deep under the implant that you cannot relieve...so frustrating. I called my plastic surgeon as my bi-lateral mastectomy was in April, 2010, and my reconstruction and placement of implants was just in July, 2011 (about 4 mos ago). The itching sensation is driving me crazy. I can't seem to relieve it. Does anyone have an suggestions? The sensation is coming from the inside of the radiated chest wall. I will try benaldryl or claritin to see if that offers any relief, however, if anyone else has any suggestions please, please, let me know. Thanks.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/11/11 8:57pm

Sounds like there could be some nerve regeneration going on there; nerves can take a long time to come back, and when they start, they can produce an itchy feeling. You say you called your plastic surgeon; did s/he offer you any help? Surely your surgeon must have some experience with this side effect; I hope you get some relief soon... PJH

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Baldwin, Community Member
3/14/12 12:43pm
Cortisone cream. Try to get a script and chew 3-4 Pepcid pills as they have a histamine blocker. Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
3/14/12 1:56pm

Thanks for offering your advice here - I'm sure others can benefit by your experience. Be well - PJH

 

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manewton, Community Member
5/16/12 9:46pm

I have been experiencing severe itching at my mastectomy sites tonight after working in the yard, and carrying loads of stuff from our storage building.  My first mastectomy was in 2008 and my last one was in 2009.  I thought I was just going crazy because the itch seems to be inside and no matter how much you scratch, you can't take care of it....I am going to try the ice right now...thank you for posting about this....

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
5/16/12 10:17pm

Could be a latent nerve issue - that "internal itching" is often nerve-related, and this kind of thing can crop up years after the mastectomy. If t doesn't get better soon, you'd probably want to speak with your oncologist, see if s/he has any advice. Hope it goes away on its own ASAP! PJH

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Mandy, Community Member
8/ 5/12 3:56am
I had a mastectomy in 2007, and occasionally since then, I have horrible itching under the skin, usually under my arm but sometimes extending to the area where my breast used to be. This past week was the worst ever. I can't "reach" the itch to relieve it, and any scratching just sends the itching ballistic. It becomes a "screaming" itch accompanied by what feels like hundreds of wasp stings. The best analogy I can give is how fire ants swarm when you disturb their ant hill. There are a few ants evident before they are disturbed (the initial itch), and then thousands of ants erupt from the hill in a frenzy (the pain and itching that occurs after I scratch). My doctor said it probably is nerves trying to regenerate. She gave me no advice except to call if the area turned red and/or feverish. Reply
PJ Hamel, Health Guide
8/ 5/12 5:47am

Mandy, unfortunately she's probably hit it right on the head - it's most probably nerves regenerating (or simply firing saway without being able to connect), and there's probably nothing you can do to stop it. However, I'd suggest you ask for a second opinion from a specialist; someone who deals in nerve issues, perhaps a neurologist. There may be something you can do to alleviate the worst of the symptoms. Good luck - I hope you find some relief. PJH

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Silvia, Community Member
8/ 5/12 8:41pm

Ditto on the itching under the skin- and it will strat out of the blue and stop the next day (usually) . i would like to share the following observations- my double mastectomy and resconstruction was 10 years ago so nothing recent here. However, I have been gaingin weight and, the midrigg area is growing - getting fatter and that's exactly where I am itching. I asked my husband - physician and he seems to agree with me that the expanding area in my midriff is letting me know it is expanding. I do not think any topical creams help - I have tried..

 

I am glad to know that I am not all alone itching ! Silvia

 

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
8/ 5/12 10:02pm

Silvia, it's certainly handy having a husband who's a physician! And no, topical dreams won't help with internal itching. Nor will antihistamines, if the itching is nerve-related. So far as I know, no one has any solution for this; though a neurologist would be the best one to consult. Good luck - I hope the itching goes away by itself soon. PJH

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Betty J, Community Member
8/10/12 12:10pm

I have this the first breast removed it was in the area of breast and running back to my lower shoulder. Years later I had the second one removed and now it is itching and pain so deep I cannot seem to touch it. I would like to know if there is something besides lanacane to try and stop it.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
8/10/12 2:30pm

Betty, Lanacane won't sotp deep itching; it's a topical remedy. This sounds like a nerve issue, which is often difficult to treat. Your best bet is to speak with your doctor about this; if s/he can't help, ask for a second opinion from a neurologist, who'd be the specialist to identify and treat whatever's going on here... Good luck, I hope you get some relief soon. PJH

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Debbie, Community Member
11/18/12 9:31pm

i have this as well.  i just it h like crazy in my armpit and arm and i can't get to it. the skin is numb from the surgery. i imagine there is nothing to be done and there will either be improvement or not.  i have better times than others. I really have no idea why it hits at one time and not another.It has been going on for a year and a half so I sort of imagine it's permanent.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
11/19/12 5:51am

Debbie, there's hope - I had itching for nearly 10 years after my breast cancer treatment, and it finally disappeared... Good luck, I hope yours goes away soon! PJH

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
11/19/12 5:58am

I had weird sensations near the scars and down the back of my arm for years, but they did eventually go away.  When the surgeon takes out the lymph nodes, s/he is moving around nerves.  Regular massage of the area with a moisturizer may help.  There are some creams specifically designed to treat scar tissue, but I think it is that actual act of massaging that helps with blood flow to the area and helps break-up scar tissue.  The other good thing about keeping that arm well-moisturized is that it can help prevent lymphedema.

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shelly, Community Member
12/18/12 4:03pm

Hi, I had mastectomy 12 years ago and I get itching under the skin on the side where the cancer was, I have never seen anyone about it, I have recently found a swelling on the same side and some discomfort around the back and down one side? I'm sure the itching is to do with my muscles as I was only 29 when I was first diognoised. I hope this has helped .

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
12/18/12 8:12pm

Sounds like there may have been some nerve damage at the time of the mastectomy, which isn't unusual. However, the swelling is something you should be concerned about. Have you mentioned it to your doctor? If not, I suggest you make an appointment and see what's up; with your history, it doesn't hurt to be extra-cautious. Good luck - PJH

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
12/19/12 5:32am

I agree with PJ that you need to have a doctor look at this.  People can get lymphedema years after cancer surgery and sometimes it starts in the trunk instead of the arms, so that might be a cause of the swelling that would need to be treated promptly so that it doesn't get worse.  I'm not a doctor so I don't know all the reasons a person might develop swelling in that area, but having it looked at would be a good idea.  Itching after surgery is not unusual although 12 years is a long time for it to continue.  If there has been no change in the itching over this long a time, it is not anything dangerous you need to worry about.  While you are at the doctor to discuss the swelling, you can mention the itching.  The doctor might suggest a cream or massage technique to help.

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Linda, Community Member
3/27/13 10:27am

I had a mastectomy in 2003 and I still have the awful itching some times I find it unbearable the area is numb but you can still feel this awful itching under your skin. I developed lymphodema 9 years after mastectomy and I attend a lymphodema clinic so I mentioned this awful sensation to the nurse and he suggested I ask for a prescription for Capsicum cream from my doctor this produces heat on the skin and gives some relief. From the researchI have read it seems quite successful I have ordered mine and am due to collect it in a couple of days.  I believe these awful sensations are due to nerve damage but the prospect of having to put up with this for the rest of my life is very depressing. I hope this is of some help.

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
3/27/13 4:04pm

Linda, you may not need to put up with this for the rest of your life. I had itching post-mastectomy for a good 10 years or so... then it disappeared. So hopefully the cream works and then, fingers crossed, it finally disappears on its own... Best of luck to you - PJH

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Linda, Community Member
3/27/13 8:03pm

Thank you for replying it is good to know that it might go away and that there maybe some light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

 

Kind Regards Linda

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Linda, Community Member
3/27/13 8:03pm

Thank you for replying it is good to know that it might go away and that there maybe some light at the end of the tunnel.

 

 

 

Kind Regards Linda

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Phyllis Johnson, Health Guide
3/28/13 9:09am

Linda, PJ is right.  Women often observe changes in sensation in their surgery area over the years.  Mostly they see improvements.  Sometimes long after surgery, scar tissue causes problems, so each person is different.  One thing that my surgeon and lymphedema therapist recommended that helped me was massaging the area.  There isn't as much blood flow after surgery, and as you point out, nerves have been cut.  Gentle massage, maybe everyday when you shower, or while applying lotion before bed, can help prevent scar tissue from forming and increase blood flow.  If you are at home when the itching starts, a cold compress can bring some relief.  I hope the Capsicum cream helps.  Thanks for sharing your nurse's tip.  I'm sure it will help other people with the same problem.

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Linda, Community Member
3/28/13 11:42am

Phyllis thank you for your reply I will try the cold compresses as you suggested and the massage.  I am due to pick up the capsicum cream from my doctor after Easter holiday and as the itching is quite bad at the moment it is likely to be a long weekend but I will let everyone know if the cream is effective. I am sorry if this post has been duplicated again but I was having trouble with the site.  Linda  

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PATRICIA, Community Member
1/16/14 11:56pm

yes i have had the itching, i had my mastectomy about 2 yrs ago,

my oncolgist, told me to take the pill so this way it won,t spread

well i took that pill and then the itching started, i told her about it

so she changed it and gave me onther kind. well  with in a week

i was itching again, so  i stop taking it. and the itch went away

when i say her about a month ago i told her, she said she never heard

of it causing itching. well i told her my body is not like other people

i have to see my surgen in feb 5,  i will mention it to him.

 

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PJ Hamel, Health Guide
1/17/14 7:14am

Patricia, I hope you can go back on one pill or the other, because the drugs do help prevent recurrence. Sometimes just taking a short vacation from medication can break the cycle of whatever side effect you're experiencing; so maybe after a couple of months you could try them again. Best of luck to you - PJH 

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By jomo1960, Community Member— Last Modified: 04/23/14, First Published: 01/08/10