Tuesday, January 27, 2009 surfkat19, Community Member, asks

Q: EXTREME ITCHING AT NIGHT?

New development, for me, with RA (symptoms for one year, dx two months ago) is intense itching at night. Best I can describe the sensation is that it feels like dead Christmas tree needles and fire ants are inside my nightshirt, itching, stinging, and digging in.

 

It attacks all across my back (particularly upper back), and from my chin down to my chest (in other words, the front of my neck). It also tends to roam up and down my sides and other spots around my arms and chest but not as widespread as the back and neck.

 

I've found some relief by taking benadryl at night, but the hangover the next day makes me oversleep. Is this a symptom of RA? Or perhaps a reaction to prednisone or Vicodin? Those, along with ibuprofen, are all the meds I'm taking right now. I've had itchiness with Vicodin before, but that was always limited to the end of my nose and around my mouth and chin and only when I had a bit too much. This is quite a different sensation.

 

I dread going to bed as I toss and turn and itch for hours every single night for about three weeks now. I only itch when I lie down (whether at night or during the day for a nap -- never any other time). Has anyone else experienced this?

 

Blessings,

Kathy Nichols

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Answers (12)
kathyglpn, Community Member
1/29/09 8:40pm

Hi Kathy-My name is also Kathy and I have been an LPN for 25 yrs.  I have worked for several physicians, currently working for an Internal Med doc.  Itching is certainly a side effect of hydrocodone, which is the narcotic pain reliever in your Vicodin.  All opiate based narcotic pain meds have potential for this side effect.  You should mention it to your doctor. He may want to change your med or add something else to help with the itching.  At any rate he needs to know and you need more sleep!  Good Luck!  Kathy G LPN

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sarah_me, Community Member
1/28/09 9:45am

I am not a doctor but I do have severe rheumatoid arthritis.  My hands and feet swell up, get red and itch really bad.  You should still tell your RA Doctor right away and all medications you  are taking and any supplements.  It does sound like you are having an allergic reaction to something.

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Deanna, Community Member
2/ 1/09 8:04pm

that is one of the side effects of vicodin

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Jin308, Community Member
5/22/11 4:06pm

I don't take Vicodin, but I do havae some  similarities to this discussion, and do take Hydrocodone about once a month.  I am 84, have advanced Osteo arthritis of the spine and many other areas of the body, particularly hands and feet.  I itch all the time, much of it clearly from dry skin.  However, I get invisible areas on the backs of my hands, and on my feet that itch in a different way, for weeks before an arthritis attack.  For weeks before an arthritic outbreak under those areas, the itching is specific and intense and that has nothing to do with dry skin.  Neither Moisturizers or Scratching  relieve the itch, but scratching raises the intensity until it becomes a burning pain.  I do sometimes have more itching at night, but not not necessarily the pre-arthritic itching, which is all the time until the arthritic pain starts. My night itching involves patches that never produce arthritic symptoms, as well as those which do and which also are not dry skin related.

 

After some weeks, the itch goes away and the arthritis comes on stage.  There are never any visible lesions unless I scratch too much.  I found that with a thin layer of cotton cloth over the itch area when I scratch, there  are no scabs or lesions as a result of the scratching.  Cortisone and/or Benadryl ointments do not affect the itching.  But ice cubes and/or hot packs do help.  A skin specialist told me that for some unknown reason some people have malfunctioning nerves under patches of skin, that move from one area to another, over time and which is not dangerous.  Because The pre-arthritic itching areas of skin become numb after a while (although after many months some of that goes away)  I saw a neurologist, who said there was nothing wrong. 

 

So far I am able to get by on alternative treatments, so I take few prescription medications.  I can't take NSaids, so for pain I take Double strength Tylenol, and very occasionally Hydrocodone 30 mg.  And ongoing I take Thorne Meriva-SR which is a powerful natural form of Curcumin anti-inflammatory,. 

 

I also take oral medical marijuana as an alternative to stronger pain meds.  People think of that as a drug--but it is an herb that has druglike effects. Acc. to NIH, it is quite safe, with no known drug addiction, interactions, long or short term side effects (when taken as directed). If your doctor can't diagnose your problem, I suggest you ask him/her about this.  NIH research has shown  it to be safe for long term use, with no evidence of any adverse reactions over time.  I suppose some people might not like their particular reaction to it.  However I took about a month to adjust to it, during which sometimes my head felt like it was in a barrel.  Even now, I dont care for it in the daytime because it makes me sleepy.  Caffeine is good for that.  For many people it will help one's general well-being. Like some prescription drugs such as Tramadol, it supposedly changes how you experience pain. 

 

NIH finds that Cannabis is a safe treatment for a wide variety of conditions.  Just as an example of a few, it is a strong, safe, anti-inflammatory which for arthritic related conditions is wonderful for pain relief.  They even say it regenerates damaged nerves after strokes.  It makes me wonder if the reason my itchy pre-arthritic skin patches have gotten the feeling back in them has to do with the Cannabis--THat has happened since I started that medication.

 

I would like to hear from someone who has this weird phantom (?) itch before an arthritis attack.  It is not lupus-related I am certain. because the pattern doesn't fit that diagnosis.  Doctors just look at me and say nothing, then change the subject.  I hope my experience is useful to anyone out there.

 

Virginia

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The Itcher 34, Community Member
8/18/09 12:04am

I get itching periodically and it can be hands, fingers, feet, back arms ankles knees.  It is bad and I scrape it sometimes so hard it bleeds.  Actually the pain is more tolerable than the itching.  It was only recently I connected the itching to RA.  I can't identify it with any medications.  Also my head can itch and there is no reason for my scalp to itch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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blindeyepug, Community Member
11/ 3/09 1:56am

I have had RA for 8 years now and have just developed a new symptom - itching.  I also itch on my arms, legs, top of feet, top of hands, scalp, shoulders and back.  It is not connected to any medications I am taking (and I am not taking vicodin or any cortezone).  I have an appointment with my rheumatologist next week.  I noticed this new symptom with this horrible flare I've been experiencing.  I was doing fine for the past three years and it appears I have now gone into a flare.  Would be interested in what  your doctor tells you.  Also, my itching is worse at night, tool

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FFJT, Community Member
6/21/12 9:33am

I too experience flares of itching that can last for weeks or months. I am not on any medications except an occasional Ibruprophen. Mainly my arms itch, but really everywhere.

WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW is:

1. what is happening? I have read that RA can cause your body to attack itself - is that what is happening? It doesn't make sense that the reason for the itching it "SWELLING". It feels like the skin, or tissue under the skin is being attacked. So, how could the reason for the itching be swelling? Is my skin swelling? Is the tissue under my skin swelling?

2. It doesn't make sense that benedryl should help, since the itching isn't caused by an allergic reaction. Please confirm this.

 

Thanks! JT

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JahisLove, Community Member
11/10/09 11:02am

I have not only had itching at night but I'm itching all the time.  Day and night.  All over my body.  And, I've developed some kind of rash on my hands, arms, chest and face that culminates in scales and then my skin cracking, which is very painful.

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Rolo in Carmaux, Community Member
11/13/09 12:13am

I truly sympathise with your condition (but I don not suffer from RA) - I am experiencing something very similar which started about two weeks ago, with an intense itch on the soles of my feet during the night. When I pressed on the skin I could see red spots, and elsewhere I had sticky, itchy sensation around the crotch and armpits, although nothing particularly visible in these areas at the time. Then the little spots started progressing up my body, while my feet continued to itch like fury, especially during the night. An itchy red patch appeared on the inside of my wrists and now the same condition (as my feet) has kicked in on the palms of my hands. It has sinced progressed up my arms and back and around my waist and is at present attacking around my mouth and chin. Weirdly, the rash on the inside of my forearms, backs of hands and inner legs appear and disappear at random during the day, although I can feel an itchy presence at all times.

I went to a doctor about a week ago and she thought it might be an allergy and gave me some tablet and a cream, but no success; the condition continued to worsen. I've been seen by a different doc today and he believes it is a viral condition. I have to have a blood test and also to see a dermotologist. Don't know if it is relevant but I have recently hit the menopause (no periods for nearly a year). Otherwise, in good health. Watch this space...

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Beverly, Community Member
4/11/14 12:12am
I know how you must fill My ra makes me fill like some thing in my blood is crawling up my legs and it fills like it moves it is quite disturbing , I don't know it you know this but the Ra is a diese off the blood. I always tell every one that I fill that my blood is mean. Hopes that make you fill not alone any more. I found that if I that a antibiotic it calms the blood down. Reply
Kathye, Community Member
12/27/10 10:16am

Hi my name is Kathye too I am a registered nurse I have RA and Lupus, I have severe itching and it is not associated with the meds because I stopped them all to find out what was causing the itching. Alot of times when you have RA which is an autoimmune disease, I also have connective tissue disease which is where the cells that grow are multiplying too fast causing sever itching, my itching feels like there are tiny bugs deep in the tissues and I can not get relief.  I take cold showers as the cold calms the itch, the hot water makes it itch more.  Kathye

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Kathye, Community Member
12/27/10 10:25am

Hi, my name is Kathye too I am an RN and I have RA and Lupus, I have sever itching and it is not associated with the meds because I went off all of them to find the source of this severe itching. Alot of times when you have RA you will have other autoimmune diseases as well since RA is an autoimmune disease too. I also have mixed connective tissue disease where my cells produce too fast and my body thinks the cells are foreign and try to reject them, this is what I believe is causing this itching for me.  My itching feels like many bugs crawling deep into the tissues and I can not reach them to relieve the itching when I scratch I make it worse.  I take cold showers as the cold calms the itch, the hot water aggravates the itching. I have had this for a couple of years and the itching is ten times worse the arthritis pain and my arthritis pain is a 9 or 10. I do kickboxing 4 days a week, this keeps my achy bones in line and keeps my body detoxin all the bad toxins which helps the itching.  Hope you feel better! Kathye Kiss

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llaird, Community Member
6/27/11 9:55am

I was DX with RA 6 months ago the battle has been up and down. I started methl about 5 months ago and WAS actually improving. I started itching about 2 weeks ago in the middle of the night. I felt like I could not breathe I was somewhat disoriented. My husband of course took me to the ER. They promptly pumped me full of benedryl and solumedrol. It is had to say if that worked or if I was so sedated I simply forgot to scratch. Well fearing a reaction to the methyl prompted that ER visit and a swift call to my Rheumy the next day. He said to me I believe you are about to have a flare. I had no words I had been so encouraged by the upward spiral from the methyl, I never dreamed it could end so soon but it has. I try to remeber to take one day at a time instaed of big moving pictures I view snapshots. If I forget... something happens to remind me it is a DAILY struggle . I have a great rheumy and a wonderful support group. The blogs and advice on the net has helped emensly as well. Hang in there.

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Daniele, Community Member
10/26/11 10:57am

Hi

 

I am looking for some advice.  I have been itching for a couple of months now.  I have been to the doctor, dermatologist and allergist and so far nothing.  The itching subsided for a couple of weeks and then it flared up again.  I also notice that my joints ache so bad.  If I bend down I struggle to get up and also have a hard time going up and down stairs. I am only 49 and I dont know what is wrong but I know something is not right.  I have a physical on Nov. 16th and I hope they find what the problem is but so far no one has been able to help me.  I feel like I am going to have a breakdown at times from not sleeping. 

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linda, Community Member
3/ 3/12 1:40pm

plaquenil will stop the itching ask your arthritis doctor mine didnt even question it when i told her about the itching this med has been a god send good luck,

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Mark, Community Member
3/25/14 12:11am
I have exactly the same problem and have Tried various non itching creams and pills Such as Hydroxicine, all to no avail. I have a need to scratch myself with brushes, long handled kitchen spoons or whatever else is available. It gets worse when I do this so basically I'm at wits end. I take lots of blood pressure Meds and various others for different problems but I don't think they are the cause. It feels like someone is sticking me with pins. At least you're not alone. What do you do about this? Reply
geraldine.mcmahon, Community Member
7/19/14 7:00pm

I get extreme itching in the evening when I eat sugar and white flour for a few days or weeks. When I cut them out, the itching abates. I have several medical conditions and they all improve through the avoidance of sugar, flour and alcohol

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By surfkat19, Community Member— Last Modified: 07/19/14, First Published: 01/27/09