Fibromyalgia: Why do we itch?

Fibromyalgia does a number on our nervous system and can cause a lot of odd sensations. One sensation is an itch that just will not quit.

It should be noted fibromyalgia causes:

  • Hyperalgesia: Our abnormal sensitivity to pain
  • Allodynia: the burning skin pain sensation
  • Paresthesia: ‘pins and needles’ sensations, an itch, tingling, prickling and numbness. And can cause pain.

Fibromyalgia: Why do we itch

Itching may occur in fibromyalgia due to certain nerve fibers being activated and causing an itching sensation. Itching and pain share a common pathway positioned in the spinal cord. Pain and itchiness also activate the same sensory brain areas. Someone who is sensitive to pain may also be sensitive to itchiness.

Medical News today

It could be then that the itching we get is Paresthesia.

Researchers have in the past been a bit startled by this symptom because it is common in neuropathy. But there has been research indicating we can get small fibre neuropathy with fibromyalgia. Either way, it paresthesia can cause an itchy sensation, or prickling sensations and even numbness.

Painkillers can also cause itch

So it may be treatment rather than the fibromyalgia itself causing the itch if you are on painkillers. That is something to consider.

Other meds that can cause itch:

  • Acetaminophen – has a rare side effect of skin, rash, hives, or itching
  • Ibuprofen – one of the more common side effects is itching skin
  • Naproxen sodium – itching is a common side effect
  • Tramadol – itching skin is a common side effect
  • Duloxetine and milnacipran – burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, “pins and needles,” or tingling feelings are less common side effects
  • Pregabalin – itching is a rare side effect

In one study looking at the frequency of skin-related issues in people with fibromyalgia, itching with no identified cause was reported by 3.3 percent of individuals.Medical news today

So medication is something to consider as the cause of the itchiness.

Other skin problems that were reported by people with fibromyalgia included:

  • Excessive sweating – 32 percent
  • Burning sensation of the skin or mucous membranes – 3.4 percent
  • Various unusual skin sensations – 1.7 percent
  • Skin lesions from repetitive scratching, itchy lumps on the arms and legs, or thickened skin areas that itch – 1.9 percent
  • Inflammation of the skin that does not itch – 9.1 percent

Medical news today

Treatments for that relentless itch

Capsaicin:

Capsaicin I often say ‘burns good’ but it can be too intense for some. However, it is often recommended for fibromyalgia because it disrupts the pain signals. Be careful with it and always wash your hands after with it.

Ice

Ice is nice because it numbs sensation. I haven’t tried this treatment for it because of the issue that the itch can span a large area. But it is an option. Or even a cold cloth over the area.

OTC meds

Opiates may cause itch but Acetaminophen and NSAID anti-inflammatories can relieve it at times.

Supplement

I have tried theanine and  Rhodiola. Hell, I use  Rhodiola anyway for fatigue and cognitive function due to fatigue.

Meditation

Sometimes calming your system down can help with these symptoms. So meditation or yoga or acupuncture can all help. I prefer meditation because it is easy to do and easy to get into the routine of.

Medications

Such as antidepressants (duloxetine, milnacipran, and amitriptyline)

or anti-seizure (gabapentin and pregabalin) meds used for fibromyalgia

Be aware

It could be caused by something else. A med. An allergic reaction. A rash… which I get a lot of random ones with FM. So if it is a new sensation you can ask your doc about it.

Remember:

  • Try not to scratch that itch as it can get worse
  • Try soothing lotions with oatmeal to reduce itch
  • Avoid perfumed soaps and lotions- there are some good oatmeal soaps you can find that are great
  • Try Epsom salt bath with unscented or oatmeal lotion after, as heat dries out skin
  • You can try anti-itch creams
  • Wear loose clothes

Winter Itch

You may notice itching in the winter, typically called ‘winter itch’. Typically a problem if you have eczema as well. Winter can dry out the skin and cause inflammation. And in this case:

  • Avoid hot baths
  • Use thicker moisturizers
  • Drink a lot of water
  • Take Vitamin D and E
  • Choose soft clothing
  • Again be careful of soaps and lotions. Unscented is best. Oatmeal ones will also sooth the skin.
Other posts:

Review: Battle Balm

Rhodiola Rosea: My fatigue brain

A question of vitamin D for pain and how much
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8 comments

  1. I hear you… my itching started after a major flare. Hasn’t gone away I itch all the time. My Doc recommended Benadryl. Which works some, it keeps me from tearing holes in my skin.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting to read about the itching. I have a couple of nerve pain conditions, and often get the itching too.
    You’ve shared some great management tips there.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’ve got me itching all over now, Nikki!! At times it drives me insane and I have made myself bleed when it is nerve pain with itching. For me pregabalin and some of the opiates definitely make matters worse, but I am going to try some of your tips that I don’t use already, Cx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Does anybody get sharp pains that feel like someone is tweezing a hair in random places, but usually it happens most on my back or sides? I also have terribly itchy skin especially in the winter. I’ve found that using a humidifier to put moisture in the air along with your tips, helps me quite a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mom mentioned for winter itch to get moisture into the air so that is a good idea. I would suggest the sharper pains are paresthesia which can cause a lot of prickling like pain? But I don’t know

      Like

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