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Intense localized itching on arms


I have had intense itching on my upper and lower arms on and off since 1997.
This pruritic condition has been non-responsive to antihistamine’s oral or topical.
I have suffered from tense shoulders (they have knots in them) I guess from stress, bad posture, etc. for what seems like forever now.
I once woke up and my neck went out so bad that when I saw a chiropractor for an x-ray she asked if I had been involved in an auto accident (I hadn’t). Anyway, I notice that when my husband works on the knotted areas in my shoulders I don’t wake up nearly as frequently during the night with this itching on my arms. (The itching awakens me normally at about 1:00 a.m. and then about every 2 hours or so after that).By the way, my arms do not have a rash, lesions or any other apparent abnormal dermal conditions. Could this itching be caused by muscles and nerves triggering in my shoulders and transferring down my arms?
Please let me know if you have ever seen such a case/condition as this would be a great relief to know I am finally on the right track!Thank you so very much for your time.

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  1. Well it has been a long time since any one has posted on here. Is everyone cured? I wish. I guess this will never go away. I guess i will have to live with staying out of the sun, my neurontin & ice packs when it acts up. Anybody have any news?

  2. Wow! So many posts for so many years–I thought I was alone with this problem! Ice is the only thing I have found that can calm down the intense itch on my left forearm. I, too, have tried many creams, etc. It comes and goes–could be related to stress, I think. Also, I have had some thyroid problems. It is supposedly normal now, but the return of this itch makes me think I should have my thyroid levels tested again.

  3. Wow, I finally find a post that has my exact itching problem. No one understands exactly what we go through. I’ve been itching for over 16 years on my upper arms & neck and I’ve had many tired days and bloody sheets throughout the years. One night after having no sleep, I threw away all my bedding with the matress. I went purchase a new matress, sheets and comforter. I cant really say what triggered it but it is unpredictable and year round. Went I went to see an allergist, he said I should get allergy injections. After thousands spent on these injections, I went to see another allergist. He told that only 2% of people that actually receive allergy injections are for skin conditions! That quack Dr took my money for 7 years. I stopped the injections and then went to a demonologist. He said that it could possibly be caused from the sun as a condition called polymorphous light eruption – but I didn’t agree. To this day, I still use dye / perfume free soap, moisturizing lotions, washing liquid, underarm deodorant and more recently dishwashing liquid. I’ve also asked my girlfriend not to wear any perfumes to bed as this could get on the bedding. I’ve tried all antihistamine pills, lotions and potions….none worked. I’ve been taking the following for a few years now and they are effective. You (and whoever is in your bed) will still lose sleep, just not as much.Triamcinolone Acetonide Ointment 0.5%. This also comes in a cream. Use as needed.Cyproheptadine 4mg tablet. This works for itching. I take 2 before bed. If I wake up itching during the night, I’ll take 1 or 2 more.I’ve always taken vitamins for health and I still believe in them. My next phase is to stop taking all vitamins, then begin taking them one at a time to see if maybe one of them makes me itch. I will also try some of these other remedies listed on the previous posts. Thanks guys!Galen

  4. I get intense itch in very localized areas on the outside portion (away from the body) of the lower arm. I can relieve the itch with application of a very hot cloth (a wet cloth heated in the microwave) and holding it on that area for 3 to 5 minutes. It needs to be very hot, but not enough to blister the skin.I have also applied vinegar to those areas (easiest is to put vinegar in a small glass (like a shot glass) and hold it against the area. I prefer the hot cloth treatment, but both methods relieve the itch.Basically, I think you are just overwhelming nerve responses til they quiet down. It is NOT A CURE. The itch may (usually will) come back the next day or even the same day, but it is a simple remedy. It seems to be worse in late winter and late spring (when air conditioning starts to be used more), so it may have something to do with dry air, increased pollen, or who knows. It affects me mostly on my right arm, but I have had occurances in the past on the left arm also. Always below (or occasionally AT) the elbow.

  5. I am relieved to know I am not alone….8 years ago I had the “arm itch” but put it down to menopause. I saw my family doctor who prescribed creams (no help) referred me to a Dermatologist (no help) had physio on my spine (no help) had a test where they put pins along your arm to check nerve responses (nothing wrong), tried Ativan (no help). After 6 months it just disappeared so I was sure it was due to menopause which was also occuring at that time. It is now 8 years later and the “arm itch” is back (no rash), sometimes upper arm, sometimes elbow area, sometimes lower arm. Menopause is long gone, so now what??? Any ideas??

  6. I cannot believe there are still people commenting on a post that dates back to January 2005! I had no idea that so many other people were suffering from the same thing I am. My itching first started a few months ago on the bottom of my right arm. I could find no relief from creams, etc., and scratched until I have scars from it. It went away only to return about two weeks ago, but on my upper right arm, and heading toward my shoulders. I have found ice to be the only thing to help. I thought maybe it was a skin condition and was thinking of going to a dermatologist. I cannot imaginie dealing with this condition for years! I will lose my mind! If anyone has found anything that might explain what it is, please help!

  7. hi all, im a `newie`, in that my intense seemingly non-stop itching started almost a month far ive tried anti-histamines and highly salted cold water, (an old wifes tale type thing) nothing so far has eased it in the slightest.However, i have been told by a friend of a friend that there seems to be a strong connection with this to stress, but especialy in those whom suffer from any form of sleep disorders, (im a chronic insomniac 20yrs) hence the majority here mentioning that it mostly happens at night time or if your feeling tired/low/down, and not able or in a position to sleep/rest. Mine suits this model of thought, thoguh i have to say, it is getting worse. My only `get-out` is ZIMOVANE, or ZIPCLONE in usa and some other contries. Its been puting me to sleep for twenty years…neggative is that i am now dependant on them for ANY sleep.But iassure you, its not the way to go.Please mail me if you find a cure.(for the itching that is)

  8. I have had the same itch for 27 years. It comes and goes, sometimes ongoing for many days, months, years @ a time. Most always at bedtime or when I start t o relax. I have been awakened by it lots and lots of times. I have even put scalding hot wet towels on my arm(s) to stop the itch. The pain is much more bearable. Ice is a nightly bedtime companion for me.

  9. It is amazing that people everywhere seem to have this nightmare itch and not one Doctor has been able to help us. I have intense itching of one or both of my arms and sometimes even includes the shoulders for 14 years. I have been to every dermatologist in the area along with my primary physician.I have had multiplebiopsies, have been worked up for Lupus and all the other connective tissue diseases. My ANA titer is extremely high and one of my Aunts died of lupus. I met some of the criteria, but not enough for the diagnosis. I have tried every cream and pill known to mankind to relieve the itch without success. Mine seems to become severe late August thru Sept. I went through the allergy path without an answer. It is unbearable as you well know. Ice or towels soaked in cold water help-that’s it!! You would think that in this day and age there would be at least one Dr. who could help us!!

  10. I had the same problem for years. Dermotologist couldn’t find anything, thought it was the sun exposure, no hope. Then it stopped for about a year (blessing). Then it started again. No apparent lesions, bumps, rash etc. I finally narrowed it down to a common denominator; Lipitor (for high cholestral). I had just switched back to Lipitor because the Crestor I had been taking was not on my retirement insurance. It was just a hunch but I quit Lipitor and went back to Crestor. It’s now gone for good. Amen.

  11. I am posting a update on the Neurontin.
    I told you all my dr & i discussed this because i had taken her some info on brachioradial pruritus & she seemed to think this might help. It has helped more than anything i have tried. The only problem is it is almost summer & that is when i really itch. I guess i will have to keep my arms covered up. I do still have some itching especially at nite, but i just get out my ice pack. I only take my Neurontin at nite now(2). I might have to start taking more when i get out in the sun. I will have to say this has been a better year than the past. One horrible thing is my dr, who is the only one that has really spent time listening to me & trying to help, has moved to Florida. I really almost cried. Now the search begins for another dr. It seems the women drs are more sympathetic to this also.
    You all might do some research on the brachioradial pruritus & see about these symptoms.

  12. I agree with Theresa-I am ready to amputate!! I have been to every discipline I know in three different states. I also have a list of auto immune disorders. I love it when I am asked ‘is it tolerable’? R U kidding me? The only choice out is not an option for me so I guess the answer is yes except I do feel sometimes that I don’t know how long I will be able to stand it. I have researched and am going to explore with my current docs the idea of liver disease. The symptoms fit me and I know they don’t like self dx but come on now, HELP ME!! If you are a doctor checking in, please do not tell your patient it’s in their head. It’s humiliating and it lacks committment on the docs part and it should be unacceptable! I feel like I am being skinned alive – that is not in my head – it’s in my arms!!If I find an answer, I will check back in!! Thx for listening! I feel all of your pain!!

  13. I too have suffered with intense itching on both my arms for more years than I care to think about. I have been told by many different Drs. in no particular order,that I have dry skin, am allergic to the sun, that it’s all in my head,that I am suffering from severe depression “NOT”, and the list goes on. The other day as I searched yet again for a product to relieve the “itch”, I came upon “Glove in a Bottle” It has only been 2 days (and nights), but I already feel some relief. To all of us who have gone this route over and over,I say give it a shot,can’t hurt and am praying it continues to help.

  14. I have had itchy arms for prob 5-7 years. It doesn’t really feel like pins and needles though, more just a prick or two but like others there is nothing on my arm. At the moment it is just on my upper arms, though it moves from time to time to my lower arms or shoulders. I always thought it has to be something in my diet. I Started to cut out acidic foods but that didn’t make a difference. The only thing i have noticed it that it is worse when i drink red wine or too much coffee or if i am dehydrated. Has anyone else noticed this?

  15. I have had this intense itching on my right arm on and off for twenty years. The first time followed a sunburn. My arm develops small, intensely itchy bumps, one at a time, with episodes lasting for a couple of months. My dermatologist prescribed Zonalon cream. It’s the only thing that relieves the itch. Hope this helps!

  16. Hi, it is interesting to see so many people suffering from the same symptoms. I have had that since about 1990 and like with all you fellow sufferers – it can disappear for months and then come back. I don’t think chemicals can help here – the STRESS factor is probably the cause – with me, it seems to come back with high stress levels – now I am having massages on the upper arm muscles, which are completely knotted – and it also helps the itching. Probably a good de-detoxification of the body would also help. Through my profession, I have had a lot of contact with chemicals – mainly cleaners etc. – I am wondering if that could also have been a cause of this. However – we hear the situation, but apart from a few test medicines, can any professional give advice on this website please.
    I hope someone can come up with a good solution, without having to depend on tablets.

  17. I have had this on one arm for a month. I have scratched bruises, scratched off moles etc….I have done research and found a condition that can be cause by nerves in the spine, mostly cervical. I have NO visible rash etc… it feels like “pins & needles” UNDER the skin. NOTHING topical or oral relieves this… i am at my wits end… even my pain management dr,(spine) had never heard of this condition…it’s called Brachiaradial puritis

  18. I can’t believe I am one of so many. I’ve been itching off and on since ’96 following a very stressful period. Unlike many whom seem to have it at night mine is in full bloom during the day and evening. I have sat with ice packs on my arm and head, during meetings, to counter the intense itch. I have ice packs at work, home and would in my car if I could refrigerate it. Mine follows its own course and will pick the wrist, elbow,upper arm etc to drive me insane. It used to just come intermittently and focus in one area and go away but this year it has been fairly steady since June. I also have restless leg syndrome and pray to be out of my skin just for a break. I still can’t believe that ice is the only effective treatment. I’m being referred to an acupuncturist to see if it is nerve related (which I now believe) and then I’m going to amputate.
    Kidding Theresa

  19. I have had THE ITCH for 5 years more or less, drives me crazy, and friend of mine has it to, doctors, etc, have no idea it seems, i thought it was a parasite and when they lay eggs it brings on that unbearable itch, then herpes as i have had shingles my friend too…feels like that sort of itch without the pain, are minds are going all over the place, pollution, radiation, what is this itch that so many people have, i live in Portugal and know of two others with this horrible night mare cos that’s what it is and i loves to come in the night, that’s when the ice bag comes out, on top of that i have tinnitus humming in my ear..

  20. I am overwelmed at the number of people with the same problem of itching on the arms. My itching started back in 1979. It comes and goes and is in different places on my arms. I too have tried most everything that several Dermatologists have prescribed, but to no avail. I have tried first cleansing with Sea Breeze astrigent and then applying Aloe Vera Gel. That helps sometimes. I would love to know what has caused this and how to get rid of it before I loose my mind.

  21. I saw a new physician yesterday for a general checkup and told him about my arm itch issue and he immediately identified it as NEURODERMATITUS. I Googled that today and found the exact symptoms that I have been suffering from for the past 3 months and intermitantly for 4 years. He perscribed 2% Hydrocirtisone cream and Benadryl cream to stop the itching. It seems that it is a form of excema that gets worse with itching !! It become chronic. So, use ice instead of scratching!! Hope this helps you and me !

  22. My e mail address is over the character limit!! So, I left the s off of the jewels, just to get my note posted. I do want to be contacted if anyone finds the “Cure”. I too have the “maddening itch”. Every post I read is the same. So many of us with the same thing. I know we will get relief one day soon.

  23. OK where to begin. I’ve wrote in before-use to go to dr & get cortizone shot, allegra & zantac & it would take care of it. Then it would come back usually bad in the summer. So this summer I got sunburned & the itching came back with a vengence. So I started doing research with some of the posts on here & I do think this brachioradial pruritus is what I have. It has something to do with the sun damaging the nerves in the arm. why? I don’t know. So I went to dr this time armed with copies of some posts & the research I did on brach pr. & she read it all & was very sympathetic. I told her we are all desperate for answers. She put me on neurontin–it is used for many things, but for nerve pain among them. Also for fibromyalgia. So asked if it was like lyrica. my husband takes for back & headaches. It makes him he tired. She started me on small doses. I started at night. what a miracle, I finally slept all night. I usually get up at least 4 times to replenish my ice pack. I have started taking it at supper time too & at bed. It has been great! Will give another update after I have been on it for awhile. Also mine isn’t as bad in the fall & winter so maybe it will go away for good !!! wishful thinking !!

  24. OMG, I’m not alone! For me this started a year or so ago. It started at that time it on both forearms. Like many of you it comes and goes. Sometimes it’s both arms but most ALWAYS my left. The perscribed cortizone did nothing. Now it’s mostly on the top/outside of the elbow and there is no rash until I cause one by my frantic scratching. I’ve used anything I could get my hands on including keys, combs etc. Now I never go to bed without my natural bristle bath brush. I also have a bunch of ice packs in my freezer which I get in the middle of many nights. Ice really is the only relief. This is SO WEIRD. Does anyone have an update????

  25. I have had this problem for almost 30 years. I am almost certain it is caused by stress, at least in my case. I went to doctors for years who, like someone else said, treated me like I was crazy. One actually tried to give me orange colored coated aspirin to prove it was all in my head. I asked the nurse what it was and when I found out it was aspirin, I never went back to him. My friend’s daughter has this. They just put her on Plaquenil and she says its helping. For me, the only thing that helps is ice. As I’m typing this, I can barely hold my head up fron lack of sleep. I have not slept through a night for 15 years.

  26. OH MY GOD!!! I am almost in tears just because I am so happy to find out I am not alone. I have intense itching on my arms anywhere from the wrist up to the shoulders. It oftens switches arms. It gets much worse at night. There is absolutely nothing visible on my arms. Scratching makes it worse. I have tried every lotion under the sun and the only thing that works is ice. Doctors treat me like I’m insane. I have also have had neck and shoulder pain for many years although I have no idea whether I have issues with any of my discs. I also have restless leg syndrome. It is the middle of the night and I am seriosluy considering taking a knife to my arm. There must be a doctor somewhere that can help us!!

  27. I have had this same condition on and off for about 5 years. I had it every year for about 3 years for about a month each time. Then,no reoccurance for 3 years and it was back again in my left arm this summer. I went on a detox diet this summer with no effect at all, so I don’t think that it is an allergic reaction. the onlyt thing that helps is icing. I did have a very stiff neck on the left side ( due to tennis and golf, most likely) and had two massages in my shoulders and neck. I considered getting a chiropractic adjustment as well. The condition is subsiding, however, and I have not had a tingling, stinging sensation for a few days now, so I think that it may be subsiding.I am thinking that it my condition be caused my nerve impingement. I will definitely go to a chiropractor soon, and hope that I don’t have another reoccurence in the near future. It is so frustrating !!!

  28. SO glad to know I am not going mad – thought I was the only one suffering this. Have now checked out brachioradial pruritis on the net and its great to have a possible diagnosis if not a cure!!

  29. My arms have been itching for nearly 7yrs, the only relief is ice packs, I am slowly going insain, it is most severe at night, sometimes (I have no idea why) it stops for a few nights (bliss) but then comes back with avengence…HELP

  30. I’ve had the itching from my wrist up to the top of my arm for about 3yrs on and off now, i was told scabbies, poison oak, ivy, etc. then i was told an allergy to the sun. After that i did allergy tests ‘negative’ only ice helps and i am going crazy. i actually itch soo much that i cause a rash consisting of a small bump here and there that resemble small pimples. then it disappears……this time its been going straight for 5 months with only ice helping at all. im thinking of just cutting them off……the funny part is that it kind of picks and chooses which arm, when, and how bad on its own. what to do now

  31. Try putting antiperspirant/deoderant on the arms, especially in the creases, anytime after the arms get wet or anytime you might sweat from perspiration, being outside or anxiety.

  32. I have had this bad arm itch for years. I tried lotions, creams and ointments. Nothing worked. Recently I have been putting powder on my arms when they itch. It seems to work. I know it sounds simple but so far it has worked every time. I hope it works for others.

  33. I too have this itching and have for about 3 years. Cold packs have been the only relief and I’ve spent alot of money trying prescription and OTC creams,sprays,ointments. If I don’t find relief SOON I’ll WILL go crazy. PLEASE HELP!!!

  34. Doctor’s in UK are equally dismissive of this miserable condition. I too have felt like I am going crazy and I’ve found it difficult to desribe the itch as it feels as though it’s inside my arms. It’s a comfort and help to read everyone’s comments and I’ll certainly be trying some of the suggestions.

  35. I can’t begin to tell you the dermotologists, neurologist, general practioners, alergist I have been to during the past 10 years. Neurotin helped for awhile. Atarax helped for awhile. Ice relieves the itching. I have nights when I think I have to go to the ER the itching is so bad. How can we can someone, somewhere to do some research on this condition.

  36. i began taking generic Celexa about 2 months ago. i noticed around week 3 that my arms, back of scalp, upper back/shoulders began itching so bad that i was bruising myself. my ob/gyn (who prescribed it) and my regular doc are puzzled. the regular doc just took me off of it and told me to take Zyrtec for 7-10 days. i’ve been off of the generic Celexa for 6 days and i’ve not noticed ANY relief. should they be looking for something else?? there are a few bumps, but no redness or rash-like evidence. i’m going crazy with the scratching!!!

  37. It’s 4 am and I’m writing to keep from scratching. Last week I scratched so hard someone asked me if I’d been beaten.Just knowing you’re also doing this makes me feel better. Thanks for posting. I’m going to try some of the suggestions.Lucy

  38. Hi everybody,
    First of all,I’m from The Netherlands and a blonde so pls have a little mercy with me for my English. I’ll give it the best I can to make you all understand me :)).
    I have the same problem with my upper arms for several years now and never knew what the exact problem was that was causing me these itching arms. It made me go insane just like many of you especially during the night time. A few days ago I was searching the internet if there were more ppl with this problem in Holland, officially called “brachioradiale pruritus” and the answer was yes. One of the women wrote on a forum about her experience. She took sinc capsules for it and a miracle had happen to her. No more itching within a few days after she started to take these sinc tablets. You can guess what I did….of course.. I went to a pharmacy and bought me sinc minerals and started to take them myself. And YESSSSSSSSSSSS it’s working…no more sleepless nights, no more blue spots on my arms from scratching etc etc. Everybody with this problem will imagine how happy I feel right now, so I decided to spread the good news into the wide world and hope that I can help other people out of their missery as well.
    So much pain solved within a few days for only 9. All it takes is one ride to the pharmacy and one tablet (capsule)per day…piece of cake :). This is what I bought: “NEW CARE” ( name of the firm)… supplements Care for life…minerals sinc

  39. Hi everybody,First of all,I’m from The Netherlands and a blonde so pls have a little mercy with me for my English. I’ll give it the best I can to make you all understand me :)).I do have the same problem with my upper arms for several years now and never knew what the exact problem was that was causing me these itching arms. It made me go insane just like many of you specially during the night time. Then a few days ago I was searching the internet if there were more ppl with this problem in Holland,officail called “brachioradiale pruritus” and the answer was yes. One of the women told on a forum about her experience and that she took sinc capsules for it and said that a mirracle had happend to her. No more itching within a few days after she started to take these sinc tablets. You can guess what I did….of course.. I went to a pharmacy and bought me sinc minerals and started to take them myself. And YESSSSSSSSSSSS it works…no more sleepless nights, no more blue spots on my arms from scratching etc etc. Everybody with this problem will imagine how happy I feel right now, so I decidet to spread the good news into the wide world and hope that I can help other people out of their missery as well.So much pain solved within a few days only for only 9. All it takes is one ride to the pharmacy and one tablet (capsule)per day…piece of cake :). This is what I bought: “NEW CARE” ( name of the firm)… supplements Care for life…minerals sinc

  40. I have had this condition recently and I checked out the responses here. One person mentioned stopping Coke and Pepsi. It triggered a thought. I exercise at a club in the am. I sit and read outside by the pool after exercising. They provide free coffee and I usually have 2 or 3 cups of de-caf. One morning I took regular by mistake. I liked it better and I began drinking regular every day. Then the itching started and I thought it was a sun condition. After reading about Coke and Pepsi, I stopped drinking regular and the condition stopped. My guess is that my body was over-reacting to the heavy doses of caffeine. Same as Coke and Pepsi (caffeine).

  41. I posted regarding taking Atarax as a way to help the itching. I am telling you – I felt insane too. Sratching till my arms bled…using anything sharp to scratch…keys, knives..etc. Like you…the itching would be dormant for months and months at a time and then I would have an attack. I tried everything too…antihistimines, lotions, steriods (ice was the only thing that really helped before the Atarax)…etc. Then I stumbled across this site and someone else mentioned taking Atarax. I had a feeling that I what I was experiencing was stress or anxiety related…a lot of my stress is manifested at night…teeth grinding and then the uncontrolable itching. I went to a regular Dr instead of the dermatologist and explained it all to him…then I mentioned the Atarax – and he thought it was a brillant idea. I swear the stuff is GODSEND!!! I feel in control…and if I start itching I take a pill and with in about 20 minutes I am back to normal. Please consider giving Atarax a try.

  42. I have had this for 2 years now, it follows no pattern, it affects the top of my arms, sometimes one sometimes both! allergy pills do NOT help, nor creams, my doctor says I must be allergic to something but there is no rash or redness untill I give in and scratch this year it went to my fingers for 2 weeks, now for the first time in months it is back on the tops of my forearms, it goes dormant for months on end, at least I do not feel insane anymore, lots of posts with people with the same but no cures? anybody had success with anything the have tried? other than accupuncture, cant go there in the middle of the night!!Thanks

  43. I get intense itching around my whole body when I take adderall. And its also worse when I’m in the heat.In addition, everytime I run the itching starts up.

  44. Hi,Over the years of searching the web for answers to intense itching arms, no rashes, etc. I have come up with nothing except relief. I was always concerned that I had a liver problem but nothing obvious on a cat scan (I had for a different reason). One doc told me to use moisture cream every day and when I finally agreed to I must say I had relief for several months. I use Loccitane Shea Butter body cream. I had used others in the past but nevereveryday religiously. After about 2 weeks of constant use I was itch free for several months. Then came the summer and sun, which seems to be the trigger and it happened all over again. I continue my search but Ice packs help the most. I noticed that when the itch is at its worst my skin in the itchy area seems hot and heat worsens it. So I use ice packs and get relief.I even have ice packs at work! I have had several theorys – one being the nerves and disks in my neck area – I had a serious car accident years ago and some back pain on occasion. Another theory is that I sun damaged my skin when I was young and maybe damaged the nerve endidngs??? Arms are probably the most exposed to the sun. Anyway, I will read all the other posts and hope that we can help each other. More help then the medical profession has been.Thanks for sharing, Diane

  45. I have only been suffering with this for about 3 months now. I have gone as far as to use a knife to scratch my arm. I have no signs oy other symptoms besides the itching. I have tried benadryl oral and topical, prescription cortizone, ice, calymine lotion. Nothing works. My physician recently tried to say I have no answer so maybe its scabbies but I researched all night to find that scabbies has a visual affect besides itch tracks. I have scratched so much I leave blood trails down my arms. I have no sores, no bumps. I have an appointment with the dermatologist but there is no telling what she will say. I just want relief adn it’s nice to know I’m not crazy.