Brachioradial Pruritus: Intensely Itchy Arms

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Via Wikipedia

People who have intensely itchy arms but have skin that appears totally normal may be suffering from condition called brachioradial pruitus. It can occur to one or both arms. Typically the itching is on the back of the forearm but may extend to the upper arms and shoulders. Scratching the itching areas seems to only make it worse and some people find that applying ice packs are the only way to get some relief.

Brachioradial pruritus was first reported in 1968 in Florida and seems to occur more to people who live warmer, humid climates. The condition is thought to be caused by a neuropathy. Neuropathies occur when nerves are disrupted by some event (for example, infection or injury) so pain is felt even when there is nothing stimulating it. In the case of brachioradial pruritus, the pain is transmitted as an itching sensation.

There are two theories believed to be the cause of brachioradial pruritus. The first is the sun hypothesis, where it is thought that people who have had chronic sun exposure develop an allergic type of histamine response in their skin. The fact that people with brachioradial pruirtus tend to have worse symptoms on their left arm, which is the driving side of the car and gets more sun exposure goes along with this hypothesis.

The alternate cause of brachioradial pruritus is believed to be due to some type of cervical (neck area) nerve damage. Treatments for cervical arthritis have shown improvement in those with the condition. However, there are critics to both theories. The sun critics point out that people’s faces get just as much sun as the arms so why doesn’t one’s face develop this problem? The cervical nerve damage critics point out that cervical neck degeneration occurs to 70 percent of elderly women and 95 percent of elderly men so without further studies it doesn’t make sense that many other older adults don’t develop this condition.

Regardless of cause, brachioradial pruritus does have some treatments that may help. Most people describe the itching as prickly and burning and that can keep them awake at night. Ice packs are the first best therapy to try to stop the itch.

Add a Comment29 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

i put pure coconut oil on it which seems to help a little bit. Next i will try the lime juice. I'll put the lime with the coconut and hope it feels better.

September 19, 2015 - 3:58pm
EmpowHER Guest

I have had this problem just for the past two nights. I have snacked on peanuts before bedtime and tonight i'm going to avoid peanuts. I'm wondering if i've developed a slight allergy to them.

September 3, 2015 - 10:43am
EmpowHER Guest

I've experienced intense itching on my shoulders and upper arms for the past 11 years every August through March. I do not know what causes it and some years are better than others. It is usually at night, so I do not sleep much. It causes me great anxiety since I do not know why this happens. There is no rash or bumps, just a prickly itching feeling. I've seen every type of doctor and no one can help me. I've tried everything and would try anything if it would help. I'd so much rather be in pain.

August 28, 2015 - 9:27pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Just as an FYI some itching can be caused by anxiety. I would recommend looking into that aspect.

September 27, 2015 - 11:39am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

I'm visiting my sister in law. I've been having this arm itching on and off now for awhile. She said to put lime juice on it. And surprisingly enough it worked . Tonight is my second night here . Trying to go to sleep and bam.. The itching started up again. Just put on line juice again. It seems to actually be helping. Weird right ? I'm using the lime juice in the little container . I also took benydryl . However I've been doing benydryl for awhile and haven't had much relief . I have no idea why the line juice is helping . Fingers crossed it works again this evening .

September 13, 2015 - 10:26pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Just be careful not to expose the skin with lime juice on it to UV light, or you will have a whole other awful problem in the form of a chemical burn..

September 27, 2015 - 11:40am
shygirl (reply to Anonymous)

Ok seriously THANK YOU Anonymous! I have been suffering, sleepless and frustrated with this itching. I randomly googled it and up came this web site. I have a neurological disease so all this info was not shocking - and made sense! (also happy it wasn't "all in my head" lol) I read your post and tried the lime juice after the itch creams that I had purchased did not help. THE LIME JUICE WORKS!!!!! I have used it all week applying a couple of times before I go to bed each night and I can not believe how it takes away the itch. THANK YOU so much for posting!

September 18, 2015 - 9:38am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to shygirl)

Hey that's awesome !!! It worked for me a couple nights . Then tried icy hot . Bit itching like crazy tonite..!!! Arg!!

October 4, 2015 - 1:55am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Vanicream is over the counter moisturizer. I have been washing my arm with the soap they also have and then adding the moisturizer to my arm every morning afternoon and night. It's over the counter. Sarna is also an anti itch cream I use when the lotion is not enough. I have been suffering with this for a few years, and finally went to a. Doctor. He put me on this plan and I was weary of him knowing how to help me in this area but I have been pain free for almost a week now. I still get the itch/burning early morning but I immediately put on my creams and it is almost instantly that the pain goes away. Hope this helps you!

September 13, 2015 - 9:07pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

F Y I......So ,i found some relief by mistake after injuring myself playing football....i sprayed my shoulder w this product called "max freeze " can pick it up on the shelves in Walmart.....pretty much the only thing that works for me after finding the ice packs just dont work any more. Hope it helps.

September 8, 2015 - 3:59am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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