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Unexplained Itching on my upper arms when I'm under stress (Page 1)

For sometime (Off and on for three years) I have had unexplained itching on my upper arms usually my left. It tends to happen only at night. It usually seems to be at a time when i might be under stress, possibly times when i have been having the person i date stay over for a period of time and might be feeling a bit trapped. the itching is usually somewhere from the top of the elbow to the mid upper arm. Sometimes the back of my neck. There is no sign of any outbreaks but sometimes small holes will open up from sratching. Went to a Doctor and he checked for obvious things such as scabies but was negative. It happens sometimes as i am going to bed or wakes me up in the middle of the night. I have tried things like antihistimes or cortisone creams to a limited effect. Tiger Balm helps at times. Last night was the strongest case so far on my right upper arm, but was sleeping alone and no obvious stress right now. Once it wakes me up I need to take a sleeping pill to go back to sleep. With no real external outbreak the main thoughts are psychological, toxicology or some internal function problem such as liver or kidneys. Am a 43 yo white male, 195 lbs, very little body fat, healthy, muscular and into sports
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First Helper undermyskin
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replied October 29th, 2007
Re: Unexplained Itching On My Upper Arms When I'm Under Stre
I have had the same exact symptoms that started 1.5 years ago. It started during a stressful time and lasted for 6 months. The symptoms returned one month ago - once again, stress related. The stressful situation went away after a week but the symptoms have remained for over one month. It's in the same area of the arm as yours. There is no sign of any problem on the skin until I scratch so much that I cause bumps and scabs to appear. It feels like a burning stinging itch under the skin that I can't get to. Similar to a shooting pain but it's an itch. I have been to my primary care physician, a dermatologist, and a neurologist. I have been tested for lyme, shingles, MS. I have had numerous tests (too many to list) and everything has come up negative. Scratching and topical lotions do not help. Initially it only happens at night but the longer I have it, the more it starts to happen at all times of day (worse at night). It wakes me up in the middle of the night also. The only thing that has helped is wrapping an ice pack around my arm. This numbs the area and therefore, I don't feel anything. Obviously, this is not practical. Have you received any responses to determine what yours is? I'm a 45 yr old white female.
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replied October 29th, 2007
Hey
Nothing constructive. I have stash of xanax that i brought from asia and take one when I wake up at night and cannot go back to sleep because of the itching. I am going to see a dermatologist but do not hold out a lot of hope. I have found that Tiger Balm works when it is not really bad. Guess my goal is find a medicine that takes away the itching versus find a cause. The only other thing I can thank of is too much protein in my diet as I take a protein drink after working out 5x a week. Am single but had a live in partner in stressful relationship when it started but it did not go away when he moved out. It did get worse when i had another partner live with me for a short time and the relationship was not great. My problem now is that some of my scratching spots on my arm are getting infected. Ironically had both Shingles and Lyme Disease when I was under 13. If I get anyhelp from the doctor will keep you posted.
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replied October 30th, 2007
Wow
thanks for the link but unfortunately no real resolution. But good to know that it is not that much of a fluke. Just a lot of doctors questioning whether it is in somebody's head. The symptons are too similiar including the area of the arm and at night. tend to dismiss the back pain aspect and liver function tends to cause itching in the interior of the elbow. Not impressed that the doctor there tends to say sorry have no idea. Since most of the people are older women in the forum would seem that the protein in my diet would be an issue. If it were sun would think it would not be confined to such a small area of the body. What are your thoughts?
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replied November 26th, 2007
Same Thing Here!
I have the same symptoms- unexplained itching/burning especially noticeable at night. There's no 'rash' but i get these ugly spots and scars from itching. It seems to run from the top of my shoulder to my elbow. I have used things such as lidocaine but didn't work... it's almost "under my skin". I'm 27 and living in florida, so maybe the sun has something to do with it? If anyone has any remedies to help please let me know, the docs don't seem to help!!!
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replied November 27th, 2007
Karungguni Again
I have not had the itching for awhile so beginning to think stress related and that it takes awhile to go away even after the stress has been removed from your life.
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replied November 30th, 2007
Same Here
I just read this post on ehealth and you are all describing exactly what I have too, over the years it has gotten worse and so far no doctor has been able to help. I also tried everything in the book to relieve the itching but nothing helps, have any of you found anything out yet as what could be the cause or what to use to relieve the itch? It used to be worse at night, but now it is bad all day long. Ice helps, but nothing else. I live in Florida, but also had symptoms while living up north. I'm kind of glad I'm not the only one that has this, as I am getting looked at like I'm kuku in the head. I'm not sure if it is stress related as this occures also when I'm under no stress at all. I wish you all good luck and hope you will post any help, as will I if I find something.
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replied August 1st, 2012
I am with you all. This is so odd. Its my upper left arm and it drives me nuts,not just at night but now at 3:00 pm. Holy cow guys. I have tried everything. This has been going on for years on and off. I was on a raw food diet and it may have helped but shows its face when I least expect it. Sometimes once a year and now every month Please someone who knows. My friend suffers from this also. I Thanks
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replied November 30th, 2007
Update
I will keep you updated if I learn anything new. I'm determined not to give up. I went back to the neurologist and ended up seeing the Physician Ass't. I have no problem seeing PA's in general but this one was so bad. I told her that the only thing that helps is ice and hydrocodone. Her response was that hydrocodone also works for restless leg syndrome so she was going to prescribe the medication that's used for restless leg syndrome. This made no sense at all. Hydrocodone works for so many things. It's also an anti cough agent so does that mean that I should take Robitussin for my arm? Sorry to rant but I'm very frustrated. She spent no time whatsoever to discuss possible reasons as to what's causing it. I made an appointment with a new neurologist. Unfortunately it's not until the beginning of Jan. The arm itch is starting to ease up so it will probably be gone by then. I'm not going to let them off the hook though. I will also be bringing all the postings so they can see how many others suffer with this with no resolution. I'll update you once I know more (may not be until after the new year).
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replied December 1st, 2007
Update
Was a PA as well and her recommendation was to make sure the skin is well mosturized. Have been doing that. Have not had an outbreak of itching latley but it may be the issue of the stress being removed in my life but it may be worth a shot. use cetafyl cleaner and mosturizer on my arms as i do on my face.
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replied December 3rd, 2007
Jmaurer
I have been suffering from these exact symptoms for going on 3 years now. Mine, strangly enough, seems to go away for the Spring and Summer, but returns late summer/early Fall and then on into winter. It does seem aggravated by high levels of stress, but is also there regardless, too. It begins as an itch, and then is persistent until is is a sharp, stabbing, stinging pain that I MUST grab, or it drives me crazy. It is painful, and my arm looks like I have road rash as a result of the constant digging. The more I dig, the more it burn, stings, etc. My doctor put me on Neurontin for nerve damage, and it helped for a period of time, but not anymore. It is sensitive to heat and anxiety, it wakes me up, and the only thing that will make it go away temporarily is an ice pack directly applied to the skin. I have actually taken coolers with me when I have to drive somewhere, so that I will have my ice pack with me. Otherwise, it is unbearable. I have an appointment witha Neurologist, but now I am wondering if that is futile. I am just glad to know that I am not crazy...
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replied December 3rd, 2007
I'll Keep You Posted
Although my next neurology appointment isn't until January (not holding out hope) I am waiting on a response from a friend of mine. She's an endocrinologist who graduated top of her class at Harvard Med School. She's been a Physician for about 20 years or so and has been published in the Medical Journals. I just sent her an email asking her what she would recommend if medical symptoms go undiagnosed after seeing many different Phsyician’s of different specialties and with the knowlege that many others suffer from the exact same thing with no resolution? I also explained what's going on. I will keep you all posted
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replied December 4th, 2007
Response From Dr. Friend
Interesting that she mentioned the spine. The first neurologist I saw thought I might have a lesion on my spine but never scheduled an MRI because of other test results. I'm definitely going to talk to the next neurologist about scheduling it. I did mention that it's not dermatology related. Here's the response from my friend:

"Here's the short answer - there are many things in medicine that many people have for which there is no clear diagnosis. Especially when there is no way to make the diagnosis. I have to say, this sounds very much like irritation from a nerve in your neck that innervates the upper arm. I would not take hydrocodone for this. You might consider a trial of a medication that quiets down sensory nerve irritatation--like Neurontin or cymbalta. You could try it for a few weeks to months and see if it helps. Have any of the neurologists evaluated your cervical spine? Itching is actually a mild form of pain. Since it is in the exact same location each time, it does not sound stress related to me.

If it is a derm issue, then what touches only that area of your arm each day? Do you sleep on that arm? Pillow? etc. That is the only way I could put it together as some kind of focal eczematous reaction."
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replied December 4th, 2007
My Additional Info If It Helps
I moved from Singapore to San Francisco in March and went from using a sheet and light cover to using a down duvet. I have been using the same pillows one of feather and one of the same down that is in the duvet from Hungary, I would think that it it is an allergic reaction it would have shown up else where on my body. I have always had tightness in my neck and upper back for many yeaars but my neck has bothered me less in recent years now that i am not sittng in a work chair everyday. the main area of tightness is of the rhomboid muscles under my scapula but the itching has started since i had less problems with my neck. This might be possible explination but as I have not itchng on my arms in about a month and my tight muscles are no better I would be more inclined to stress but am open that nerve issues extending from neck or shoulder are the issue. I have al ot of problems with tendonitis in my arms and bicep tendons in my sholder from years of biking and weightlifting.
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replied December 7th, 2007
Unexplained Itching On Arms
I have the same symptoms that everyone here is talking about. It has happened to me on and off for the last six years or so, usually end of summer or fall. Mine actually starts on my arm usually left, between my wrist and elbow and then moves up towards my shoulder and then to the other arm. I, too, have seen dermatologists that only prescribe hydrocortisone creams, etc. The only thing that helps it are ice packs, usually in the middle of the night. Someone described it perfectly as sharp, biting itches that you practically have to grab at to ease the discomfort. It is so uncomfortable and bothersome and not very attractive after a while. I always wonder if it some level of toxicity in the blood or something. Mine usually goes away on its own after a few months. If anyone finds an answer please let me know!!
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replied December 19th, 2007
Itching
I am scratching myself to death. It all started about 5 months ago on my upper left arm, the went to my right arm, now it is also around my neck. There is no redness, swelling, or rash. It is just the stinging, itching sensation that is worse at night, and now during the day as well. I too have been dealing with a lot of stress. But, I have had stress before without this. I have seen several doctors and had an MRI this week, ordered by a neurologist. I don't hold out much hope. He is looking for somthing that is affecting my nerves from my neck down the arms. From frustration I am starting my own research on this. I am surprised and glad to find all of you suffering with the same symptoms. Hopefully, someone will find a doctor that is willing to do some research and find out what is going on. Just to stop the itch! It is really affecting my quality of life. Topical creams help for a short period of time and now I have zanax and antidepressants to help me sleep.
Wreck
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replied December 19th, 2007
to Itching
I am curious as to what your MRI shows. I have been told that the neck is probably the cause but my neurology appointment isn't until January.
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replied January 18th, 2008
Itchy Arms
Sad I have all the same problems with my arms for about 4 years - major itching on the upper arms, mostly at night (can't remember when I slept a whole night) (lots and lots of ice packs) and also with heat and stress. I have been to three dermotologists, an allergist and a chiropractor (thought it might be due to a neck injury years ago). No one has been able to help me at all. They did bloodwork, prescribed lotions and creams (I must have tried 100 of them). Today I went to a neurologist and he looked at me like I had three heads. He said I should go to a Psychiatrist and this had nothing to do with neurology. So I am at whits end... I am taking Wellbutrin so I thought I was covered in the Psychiatry end but I guess not - if anyone can give me some advice I will gladly listen... Sad .
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replied April 16th, 2008
follow up
I did the original post on this link. I have come to the conclusion that is stress related. for me the stress is related to living together in a relationship and feeling trapped. I have also found that it takes about 3 to 6 months for the itching to go away once the stress is removed. I have not had an outbreak of itching in about 6 months and my last partner moved out about 9 months ago. Good luck to the others on this link. I am not sure how to cure or relieve the symptoms other than to remove the stress from your life.
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replied April 16th, 2008
Itchy Upper Arms
I went to my family doctor and was prescribed Lyrica for my arms. Apparently Lyrica affects nerve endings. I no longer have itchy arms but if I miss one pill (I am taking two a day) I oticed the itching came back. It certainly does not let me know what the underlying issue is but at least it treats the problem. I will say I have noticed it makes me tired and a little weight gain. But it is well worth it...
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replied April 20th, 2008
follow-up to itchy arms
don't give up folks if the problems persist. about 4 years ago (i was 28 y/o) i had some strange itching which resulted in a bacterial infection/severe acne on my upper arms and chest. the issue was progressively getting worse even with taking an antibiotic every day. A few months later, i also began to experience numbness in my fingers and toes. after many, MANY, MANY MANY doctor visits (and 10 months!) and tests for everything from lead paint poisoning to treatment for depression and lastly a mis diagnosis as MS, an MRI showed a disc which slipped backwards and lodged itself between my spinal cord and vertebrates 3 & 4 in the cervical area. generally this type of injury (its origin is a mystery to this day) would make walking difficult but it all depends on an individual's threshold for pain and according to my neurologist, how the body interrupts that pain.

i'm not telling my story because I think what you all are experiencing is the same as what I experienced (though possibly to some degree it is - who knows) but more to say that pain and spinal injuries can manifest themselves in very odd ways. i took many prescription drugs during what i call the "hunt" phase that helped me function but the catch-22 is that it also delayed the eventual discovery of the cause. 11 months of progressive torture was remedied by a 4 hour surgery performed less than 48 hours after my MRI.

at any rate, good luck and know that when it comes right down to it, you must keep searching because no one is going to be more concerned about your health...
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