Scleroderma Skin Involvement: Itching (Pruritus)

Author: Shelley Ensz. Scleroderma is highly variable. See Types of Scleroderma. Read Disclaimer
Itching Emergency
Drug-Induced Skin Itching
Itching QOL and Disability
Treatments for Itching
Xerosis (Dry Skin)

Overview of Itching (Pruritus) in Limited and Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis (lSSc, SSc, dSSc)

Itching may precede and accompany skin tightening in limited and diffuse systemic sclerosis (lSSc, dSSc, SSc). It is caused by the inflammation, and is a temporary phase.

Consult your doctor right away if you develop sudden or severe itching, as this may be a symptom of other things, such as medication side effects, kidney failure or liver disease, which often occur in systemic scleroderma . (Also see Overview of Skin Involvement, What is Scleroderma? and Types of Scleroderma).

When Itching All Over is an Emergency

Itching all over + difficulty breathing +/- swelling of any part of the face = Emergency!

What's Your I.Q.? (Itch Quotient?) Lanacane Itch Information Center

Anaphylaxis and Itching All Over Anaphylaxis is a severe reaction that affects multiple areas of the body and can include itching all over., 6/24/2015.

Drug-Induced Skin Itching: Plaquenil, Minocycline, Many Others

Many medications can cause itching as either a minor or major side effect. Scleroderma patients, in particular, should never assume that itching is caused just by the disease. Instead they should check with their pharmacists for possible medication side effects as well as consult their primary care doctor or scleroderma expert.

Itching (Pruritus). In those with generalized pruritus, or itching all over, a systemic disease may be the cause in about 50 percent of people. Medications that can cause itching include Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine), aspirin, NSAIDs, and any of a large number of medications that cause itching by affecting the liver. Non-specific treatments for pruritus, such as topical steroid creams and oral antihistamines, as well as good skin care and moisturizing, can provide much relief for people with generalized pruritus. VeryWell.

Minocycline Side Effects. Minocycline can cause dozens of side effects, including itching, black discoloration of the tongue, redness of the skin (sunburn) , and changes in skin color. Medline Plus. (Also see Minocycline)

Itching (Pruritus) and Quality of Life and Disability in Systemic Sclerosis

Sleep disturbances in systemic sclerosis (SSc): evidence for the role of gastrointestinal symptoms, pain and pruritus. Gastrointestinal symptoms, pain and pruritus were associated with sleep disturbance in SSc. Additional research is needed on sleep in SSc so that well-informed sleep interventions can be developed and tested. PubMed, Rheumatology, 2013 Jun 25. (Also see Sleep Disorders and Scleroderma, Gastrointestinal Involvement, and Pain


Skin rashes may be caused by various Autoimmune Diseases such as lupus or dermatomyositis and in some skin conditions which are similar to Scleroderma. But before becoming unduly concerned, rule out the most common causes.

Skin Rashes and Other Changes.The location, appearance and color of a rash will help your doctor make the diagnosis. Look for care suggestions on this chart for common rashes.

Skin Rashes: Self-Care Flowchart. (Excellent & Easy to Use)

Chronic hives: What causes them? Occasionally, chronic hives can be associated with a serious, underlying medical condition, such as lupus, connective tissue disease, thyroid disorder and cancer. So it's important to have chronic hives evaluated by a doctor. MayoClinic.

Treatments for Itching Associated with Systemic Sclerosis Skin Fibrosis

Often skin tightening in scleroderma (either limited or diffuse systemic sclerosis) is accompanied by dry skin, as well. Therefore the most relief can often be achieved by using both an antihistamine (such as Atarax or Benadryl) along with moisturizers (such as Bag Balm or Udder Cream.)

Many scleroderma patients report that their itching is often the worst at bedtime. Therefore, avoid showers or baths at bedtime because the resulting dryness may increase the sensation of itching and skin tautness and interfere with falling asleep. (Also see Scleroderma and Sleep Disorders)

Avoid scratching because it inflames the itch cycle. To avoid scratching during the night, wear long sleeved pajamas and/or cover the affected areas in a heavy moisturizing cream and top with gauze or soft cloth.

Heat generally worsens the sensation of itching, while cool often relieves it. However, too much coldness can cause attacks of Raynaud's, so use cool packs with caution. (Also see Raynaud's and Raynaud's Prevention)

Diphenhydramine. Diphenhydramine is an oral antihistamine (e.g. Benadryl or generic equivalents) used for treating allergic reactions. It helps to stimulate changes within the cells that lead to sneezing, itching, and increased mucus production. O. Ogbru.

Medications to Reduce Scleroderma Itching include hydroxyzine hydrochloride (Atarax), diphenhydramine hydrochloride (Benadryl), cyproheptadine hydrochloride (Periactin), and tricyclic antidepressants (Trazodone). FreeMD.

Xerosis (Dry Skin)

Xerosis may occur from Scleroderma causing the skin to become excessively dry. Very mild soaps and lotions (often baby products) are recommended. ISN.

What is Xerosis?
Bag Balm
Udder Cream
Baby Products
Tips from the Skin Site
The Scleroderma Bath
Go to Skin Involvement: Hyperpigmentation and Hypopigmentation
Most Recent Donors

Winn Schillberg
Reading Voices of Scleroderma Books: Diana Kramer.
Sharing Scleroderma Awareness Bracelets: Deb Martin, Brenda Miller, Vickie Risner.
Thanks to UNITED WAY donors of Central New Mexico and Snohomish County!

In Loving Memory

Patricia Ann Black: Marilyn Currier, Shelley Ensz, Richard Howitt, Gerald and Pat Ivanejko, Juno Beach Condo Association, Keith and Rosalyn Miller, and Elaine Wible.
Gayle Hedlin: Daniel and Joann Pepper and Nancy Smithberg.
Janet Paulmenn: Anonymous, Mary Jo Austin, Shelley Blaser, Susan Book, Dennis and Pat Clayton, Grace Cunha, Cindy Dorio, Michael and Patricia Donahue, Shelley Ensz, Nancy Falkenhagen, Jo Frowde, Alice Gigl, Margaret Hollywood, Karen Khalaf and Family, Susan Kvarantan, Bradley Lawrence, Jillyan Little, Donna Madge, Michele Maxson, Barry and Judith McCabe, John Moffett, My Tribute Foundation, Joan-Marie Permison, John Roberts, Margaret Roof, Maryellen Ryan, Mayalin and Kiralee Murphy, Nancy Settle-Murphy, and Bruce and Elizabeth Winter.


SCLERO.ORG is the world leader for trustworthy research, support, education and awareness for scleroderma and related illnesses, such as pulmonary hypertension. We are a service of the nonprofit International Scleroderma Network (ISN), which is a 501(c)(3) U.S.-based public charitable foundation, established in 2002. Meet Our Team, or Volunteer. Donations may also be mailed to:

International Scleroderma Network (ISN)
7455 France Ave So #266
Edina, MN 55435-4702 USA

Email [email protected] to request our Welcome email, or to report bad links or to update this page content.

TOLL FREE HOTLINE 800-564-7099
Free to U.S. and Canadian Callers. Ask for our Free Info Packet by mail or email!
Scleroderma, Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension, and related illnesses.
Privacy Policy.

The most important thing in the world to know about scleroderma is!
Donate Now
Copyright 1998-2016, International Scleroderma Network. AKA Scleroderma from A to Z and SCLERO.ORG. All Rights Reserved.