A to Z of EDS: I is for Itch

I was going to write about IBS, but having been driven crazy by an itch for the last few days, this subject was more of a concern! I may do another A to Z next year, as each letter has so many different topics to write about.

Being very itchy is not anywhere on the diagnostic criteria for EDS. But it’s a symptom that many of us are intensely familiar with. I’ve seen it discussed over and over in forums and FB groups.

The itchy skin, and scalp, can be due to dry flaky skin, but can also occur as hives and rashes. And sometimes there’s no outward sign of the itch at all. We often have itchy skin from childhood and it can get worse as we age.

My own theory for some of the itchy skin is that it’s a symptom of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. MCAS is a difficult to diagnose immune condition that often co-occurs with EDS. MCAS should be suspected especially if the itch is accompanied by hives or flushing (suddenly redness especially to cheeks), but may be under diagnosed and missed.

We also seem to have a lot of allergic reactions to products such as cosmetics and perfumes. And these quite often manifest as itchy skin. Also, we can be more prone to itching caused by heat, such as ‘prickly heat’.

Another reason for itchy skin may be reactions to medications. Tramadol, a commonly prescribed painkiller for EDS causes me intense itching. So much so that it interferes with my sleep. This seems to be a common enough side effect, I’ve seen reference to ‘The Tramadol Itch’. Which is a pity as painkiller options are quite limited for me.

What to do about the itch? Obviously, avoiding triggers and medications that cause itching is key. Antihistamines can be helpful. Some find relief with bathing in tepid water and staying hydrated generally. Most of it is trial-and-error. And sometimes all we can do it try to put up with it and keep our nails short and try not to scratch!
[image is of an orange background with the words “I is for Itch” in white.]

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