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Brachioradial Pruritus: Intensely Itchy Arms

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itchy arms 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.

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EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I'm so relieved to have found this article. I live in England but two years ago changed my lifestyle and now spend much of the winter in sunny South Africa. This itching is a new phenomenon for me. The first attack was in South Africa and I thought it must be insect bites but how could it be without any physical evidence? The itching affects the elbow end of the forearm and sometimes it feels like tiny needles are piercing the skin. I had another attack in South Africa this last winter and a few days ago, here in England's summer, it flared up again hence my search for an explanation. I haven't had back or neck problems but I do have the red hair gene that makes my skin more susceptible to sun damage. No one else has mentioned this but I do wonder if it's a factor. But why just the forearms? That makes no sense. My shoulders get more sun. I shall try all the solutions mentioned and try to resist scratching!

July 29, 2016 - 1:14am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I apply Technu as a lotion to clean skin and it helps. I put it on in the early evening before the itch starts and it does help. I also think Vit D helps.

July 8, 2016 - 12:29pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Hello, I suffered from this for more that 2 years and i drove me mad. I went, on recommendation from a friend, to a "healer" and he just put his hands on my back (I was lying down) I went into a kind of sleepy or relaxing "trance". I have to say I had really weird half dreams and experiences during this session. I had a few sessions and the icing went away. I wasn't really sure what he did until my wife started getting in Bio Energetic Healing and through this, I realized this was what he was doing.
This was 3 years ago and since then my wife treated me but only a few times, and I haven't had a recurrence. But she treats me regularly for various things. She uses methods from, Frank Kinslow (QE), William Bengston ((Energy Healing), Ursula Fallet (ENKOMP), Touch For Health, Innerwise.
If you can find someone who practises Bio Energetic, give it a try. Another method is Cranialsacral.
I also found this link - https://www.drbaileyskincare.com/info/blog/post/a-new-explanation-for-in...
This has confirmed my original suspicion that it was connected with my back problems and aggravated by the sun.
Good luck

June 12, 2016 - 10:20am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I am so glad I found this article and site so I can read all the comments. I started getting severe itching, only to my left arm, about 4 years ago. It did start at my shoulder and now has worked its way down my arm. It commonly happens at night, and yes, wakes me. I do live in Florida as well. I scratch so hard that I have created small scabs. I am going to try all of the recommendations commented.

June 11, 2016 - 6:15am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have this when I'm exposed to sun for long time. I'm in Florida. Over the counter ointment does not work on me. What helped me big time, is Bactroban and Clovate N ointment. Look it up fellow sufferers, might help you.

April 14, 2016 - 8:08pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have had this condition for almost 30 years after a honeymoon in Mexico and sun exposure. The itching is always between my wrist and elbow. Within the past 3 months, it is finally gone. How? I suffer from lower back pain and have been in traction to release the pressure on my spine. I have read in here how others have benefitted from traction, but to their neck, as the itch has something also to do with a compressed nerve in the spine. Unbelievably, the itch is now gone. I have also purchased an inversion table. I can finally sleep at night. Amazing is an understatement.

March 28, 2016 - 2:28am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

This incredible itching is between my forearm and elbow and there have been times when I could have sawn my arm off to stop it. I explain it by saying "it feels like my artery is itching". It started after a two week holiday in Australia (although I always use factor 50 sunblock in the sun and always have). Three doctors appointments so far - anti-biotics for cellulitis, didnt work. 4 different anti-histimines didnt work. Now prescribed 300mg aspirin daily - we shall see. Really happy to have stumbled on this site :)

I have a lime in the fridge and think I shall crack it open before bedtime. Thanks for the info

January 7, 2016 - 11:40am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I've had this problem for about 5 years now. Only occurs in the fall & winter. I think both theories of causation are correct. When I explain it to other people I refer to it as an itch that won't be satisfied with scratching it. It seems to me that its a nerve problem because I did injure my spine, which also caused the top part my leg to go numb. I think its sun exposure as well because it's predominantly a left arm problem for me. Sarnia lotion has helped to provide some temporary relief but doesn't always work. I have noticed the condition gets worse after a hot shower. I'm going to hang upside down on my inversion chair, start taking cold showers year round, and try to use those Lidocaine 5% patches and or the aveeno - thanks to all who contributed.

January 4, 2016 - 2:52pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

I have had this condition for a good number of years.. On my right arm, iam a Lorry driver in the uk and this always seems to flare up in summer it drives me nuts and have discovered that cold things are the only relief, iam 44 years old and do occasionally get neck pain, it's only my right arm that's affected

December 19, 2015 - 3:04pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Cervical traction with a home device (used in a horizontal body position) seems to relieve some of the pressure on cervical nerves. In addition, Lidocaine 5% patches (manufactured by Watson/Actavis Pharmaceuticals) placed each evening on shoulders and arms provide significant, beneficial, and effective relief. Patches are worn for 12 hours and help the BRP sufferer to sleep at night. The benefits seem to carry over into the following day. Lastly, Aspercream with 4% Lidocaine provides on-the-spot short term relief. Effective hygiene includes cool or cold showers with only Cetaphil used on arms and shoulders.

November 19, 2015 - 3:14am
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