Itchy skin

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Distinguished member
Jul 7, 2005
Has anyone been aggravated by itchy skin. LB is having quiet a problem with this. I don't believe it is just a case of dry skin. It is especially bad on his legs, which he has lost most of the use of. I was wondering if it might be related to the nerve endings being damaged. He is also having some breaking out around his neck and on his scalp. That may be psoriasis but it just seems that it is all related. Any ideas?

Hi Terry. It could be that LB is not getting enough movement and air around the areas that are affected. Could be the start of bedsore like skin conditions. I am getting a few patches of dry itchy skin behind my knees and on my ankles as well as some patches on my face from irritation from my Bipap. The doc gave me some creams that seem to help it go away for a while and it keeps coming back though. Maybe a referral to a Dermatoligist might help.
Hi Terri,
I, too have had trouble with itchy scalp that breaks out. I read somewhere online that itchy skin seemed somehow be one of the things that went with ALS. Don't know how or why. My hairdresser recommended Neutrogena Shampoo and I got the low residue kind and it has worked. The piece on the internet suggested Paul? Mitchell Tea Tree Oil shampoo and the person said it worked for them.
Al is right, though, in saying that LB might need to see a Dermatologist since the problem seems to be widespread.
Hope you find a solution to the problem.
Love and prayers, Leah
Thanks, Al and Leah. We are treating the scalp with the shampoo you suggested Leah. It does seem to help. It's not bed sore type problems. He still moves around the house with his walker some. But Al, I is still think you might be touching on the problem in a way. His lower legs and feet are quiet swollen and his skin to a shiny hot pink color. He says they itch. I told him it they were that pink on Valentine's Day I was going to get him some red slippers so he would look like Cupid :) .
I'm not sure if the swollen feet are from ALS but has his Doctor seen them? I don't think that is a good sign. Swollen to a pink color doesn't sound good to me even if you do live in the land of the pink flamingo's.
My Cardiologist wasn't too impressed when I told him I was getting swelling occasionally. He said he might have to change my meds. Could be something simple or maybe not. I'd get it looked at.
hi terri
swollen legs that are shiny red is not good, i would take him to see the doctor. it could be celliulitis.
We were at the pulmonary and neurology doctor's office the first of November. Neither one seemed concerned about it. The breaking out has happened since then. Maybe I will give them a call tomorrow to voice my continued concern. Thanks everyone.

Hi Terri,

Henry's ankles and feet used to swell up really bad, and they also turned a lovely shade of purple red. The doc was not overly concerned about it either. Just another irritation of als. He also had dry itchy skin. His head, his back, and his legs and arms. We also got some cream to help this symptom. Also, I think that being inside more in the dry house and being immoble did not help him out much either.

Good luck, I hope that he can at least scratch the itch! I used to slather Henry up every night, it was a miracle that he did not slide out of the bed. It gave a whole new meaning tp the word greaser. ha..

Stay strong, Carol
Thanks for all the replies. I called the neuro about the swelling and color change. He still didn't seem concerned. I took him to the GP to get his opinion on what I might could do to relieve the itching. He prescribed Hydroxyzine to see if it might clear up the rash. We'll see soon enough :?: Thanks Carol for your reply. It makes me feel a little better knowing that the swelling might just be a part of the disease.
Regarding severe itching;

I have been in contact with quite a few PALS that have experienced itching that is enough to drive you insane!

It seems to be an ALS symptom where the nerve endings become super sensitive. Since ALS is a neurological disease this makes sense to me and I have been bothered by this for about the last 9 months. I initially was able to deal with it by using Aveeno shower/bath Wash and Tide Free for my clothes. But the last 2 weeks I have been plagued with unbelievable itching on my legs and around my belt line.

We have been unable to control it. We have tried everything and there are no marks, red spots or any indication. The skin looks completely healthy and normal. After corresponding to a number of PALS that have had this problem I am trying Neurontin, as a number of them claim they have had some success with this.

I will let you know how it works.

This itching is enough to absolutely drive you insane. The is no way to get any relief from it, scratching and anti-itch cream only give very temporary relief.
New findings about itching ~ it*is tied into complex action of nerve cells and their link to the brain. *Given PALS/PMND complain of itching at times, it makes you wonder if it could be an associated effect of nerve damage of another type in MND? While most focus is on the motor neurone it is not to say that the degeneration is always contained to motor neurones ~ perhaps other nerve types can also be involved and where itching is seen?
Perhaps a new avenue of research?

How scratching can stop an itch
Scientists have shown scratching helps relieve an itch as it blocks activity in some spinal cord nerve cells that transmit the sensation to the brain.
However, the effect only seems to occur during itchiness itself - scratching at other times makes no difference.
While it is widely-known scratching relieves an itch, the physiological mechanisms for how this works are little understood.
The University of Minnesota study appears in Nature Neuroscience. " We all know that scratching helps alleviate itch, but this elegant study helps to show how this mechanism works "

Professor Patrick Haggard University College London. Previous research has suggested that a specific part of the spinal cord - the spinothalamic tract - plays a key role.
Nerve cells in this area have been shown to be more active when itchy substances are applied to the skin.
Blocks activity
The latest work, in primates, found that scratching the skin blocks activity of nerve cells in the spinothalamic tract during itchiness - preventing the spinal cord from transmitting signals from the scratched area of skin to the brain.


There are many causes of itch, including more than 50 diseases including shingles, Aids, gallbladder problems and Hodgkin's Disease
The itch produced by many diseases can greatly affect quality of life and can not be treated currently
For many types of itch, it is not clear that itch serves any clear purpose
Researcher Dr Glenn Giesler hopes the work could lead to ways to relieve chronic itch effectively for the first time. However, he said more information was still needed about the chemistry underpinning the effect.
Professor Gil Yosipovitch, an expert on itching from Wake Forest University in North Carolina, said the finding was "potentially significant".
He said: "Although there is a long way to go, methods that can induce a pleasurable scratch sensation without damaging the skin, via mechanical stimuli or drugs that can inhibit these neurons, could be developed to treat chronic itch."
However, Professor Yosipovitch stressed that scratching and itching were complex phenomena involving factors such as emotions as well as physiology.

"The main open question is what happens in patients who suffer from chronic itch where scratching may actually aggravate itch perception."
Professor Patrick Haggard, of University College London, said: "We all know that scratching helps alleviate itch, but this elegant study helps to show how this mechanism works.
"It's an interesting illustration of a very general principle of the brain controlling its own inputs, in this case by making movements that triggers an interaction between scratchy touch and itch."
Dr Paul Bays, based at UCL's Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, agreed that the study provided an important part of a physiological explanation for how the sensation of itch is reduced.

"However, it is still unclear why scratching should have this effect, or why it is only effective for itches and not for painful sensations - which are transmitted to the brain through the same pathway."

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/04/06 00:58:27 GMT
I've been using Gold Bond Cream for itching on my torso and it works well.

Gold Bond did work for a few months, but not lately.

The itching got so bad I just about gave up. It got to be extremely frustrating having these itches and not having any way to scratch them.

I know that Gold Bond does work well for a lot of PALS. I pray it continues to be effective for those that are using it.
wow! Who knew? That was by far, the best info I have ever read about itching. Made me itch a lot actually. I'm over it now... Kinda, sorta.
mosquito season here. It's awful when my husband gets bit. He does the mind over matter when he feels the itch. Tends to work for most of them. What about antihistamines (sp?). Would that help relieve some of the itch, if it were yapping a lot?
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