Intense Itching and Scratching - Cannot Sleep

by Phyllis
(Northern San Diego County)

Where do I begin? Around 1998, I think is about when this all started. That summer, my mom died, I started a new job as a legal secretary after not working for a few years, living in Colorado (after moving there from San Francisco and reuniting with my significant other), the addition of two more kitties in our two bedroom apartment, and the constant, ever-present fatigue I've experienced most of my life.

After visiting a low-cost clinic with a nurse-practioner instead of a doctor, or a naturopath (should have done that), I got tested for low-thyroid and put on synthroid. I also had a full lower G and C series for digestion problems (severe gas and bloating that had me running for the bathroom too many times especially during office hours).

Shortly after all that, I started getting the "itchies" in different areas on my body which would induce ugly red welts that showed where and how I scratched. At first, the areas would be somewhat small, sometimes move, and wouldn't last too long. There were times over these years when I didn't seem to be bothered all that much by it. Now, though, I really feel like I'm going to go out of my mind from it! It feels like I'm being pin-pricked from underneath my skin and the more I scratch, the itchier it gets. Sometimes I can ignore it, or try to, but most of the time I succumb to its insistence. Like right now!

For the past seven years, I guess, I've been using antihistamines on the advice of someone, I can't even remember who it was. If I was experiencing a really intense itchy day, I'd take them, otherwise I wouldn't. However, lately I've been taking 75mg of diphenhydramine hydrochloride every night to keep it under control, and even then, it doesn't always work, unless I take an additional 50mg in sleeping pills.

Lately, the really intense itchy areas are both shoulders and I sleep (or try to) on my sides. You can imagine how this has been! Four to five months ago, I was waking up in the middle of the night scratching one shoulder or the other, sometimes up and down my upper arm, or both and couldn't go back to sleep for hours until the antihistamine kicked in - and wake up like a bear!

I hate taking this stuff, I know it isn't good. I know synthroid is just as nasty and I am looking for an alternative (I've heard horror stories about going off synthroid once on). But I really need some good advice about that and haven't found any yet. I would also really like to find some natural alternative to relieving this itching that is making me crazy! Topicals don't work at all. I suspect the synthroid at least contributed to the itching, but I also suspect other factors, some dietary, some stress-related among other possibilities.

My life right now is, I don't even know how to describe it other than small and surreal. I'm caring for my mother-in-law (88 with dementia) with my husband in her home 24/7 in Northern San Diego County. We have six cats who don't get along. I used to work out regularly, now don't do anything for a number of various excuses, I don't do anything much during the course of the day, but I itch every night, sometimes during the day, too. Stress? Sure, why not. Dietary? Possible. Nothing else, though, that I can think of.

Any suggestions, advice, anything from anyone would be really welcome and appreciated! Thanks for letting me share.

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Comments for Intense Itching and Scratching - Cannot Sleep

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Apr 09, 2010
Do some reading about adrenal fatigue.
by: Eliza

Your story sounds exactly like my own. Chronic stress depleats the body in so many ways and brings symptoms we would never associate with stress to the table. I too had low thyroid levels and was given synthroid only to learn treating the thyroid problem without addressing the adrenals will make the adrenals worse. Low thyroid levels are easily detected but adrenal issues require more testing that is expensive and rarely done.

Please do some reading about adrenal fatigue. Healing your adrenals takes time and lifestyle changes. I have seen a great deal of improvement since making some changes. Dr. Diana Schwarzbein has some great books that address this specific issue. Her program is very good, it requires changes in diet and light exercise.

Best of luck,


Jan 26, 2010
Stress Plus Lactose Intolerance?
by: Geri

Hi. Reading your post, I think you might be also lactose intolerant and that might be the cause of the bloating and itching. Try to cut on dairy products for a week and see how you feel. I do have skin writing disease and I am also lactose intolerant. When I don't have dairy products I feel much better.

I know one thing for sure, stress does worsen my condition and therefore try to do something about it. I know it is hard right now, but why so many cats? Best wishes!


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