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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.

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. (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.

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

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