The Itch Is Real
Last updated: April 2023
I’ve recently been weaning off of Cymbalta for personal reasons. With the wean I have noticed a lot of withdrawal symptoms. My worst symptoms so far have included fatigue, intense headaches, dizziness, stomach issues and what they call “brain zap.”
With brain zap, it feels like my brain is bouncing around in my head and when I stand or move I get electrical impulses throughout my head. It's bizarre and uncomfortable, to say the least. The first week the brain zaps and headaches were severe, but thankfully so far the second week those symptoms have subsided quite a bit. However, I have another symptom this week which I also know can be a common symptom of MS: ITCHING.
Itching all over
It really is best described as that itch you just can’t scratch. I have experienced itching before with my MS, especially during the summer when I get overheated, but it has never been this bad and distracting. I’ve noticed it’s most prominent at night and it has been making it very difficult to fall asleep. Itching or pruritus with MS can be caused by dysesthesias. Dysesthesias are the many sensations our bodies feel more intensely such as pins and needles, burning, stabbing or tearing.1
An obnoxious new symptom
While I have never experienced this symptom quite like this before, and I’m unsure if its from getting off of my medication or something new with MS, it has been an obnoxious new symptom! I feel the itching throughout the day, but at night is when it worsens. I itch ALL OVER, from the tips of my toes to the top of my head. I swear, even my eyeballs and inside of my ears itch like crazy. This kind of itch is so fierce that it literally makes my arms and legs flinch. I try not to scratch, but often give in...but of course, that just seems to make it worse.
Is it MS or something else?
It’s so difficult in every new symptom to distinguish whether it's a new MS symptom or a cause of something else. Right now I have several other factors that could be causing this sensation, but I know it’s not uncommon in MS symptoms. Itching is associated with many other diseases and disorders. To name a few, itching can be seen in blood disorders and diabetes, among other things.2 It can also be seen as a reaction to some medications and even occur in pregnancy as the skin stretches and grows. And of course, it’s a common sign of skin irritation and allergies. I have done some research on relief from this unwelcome pest that itching is, and I’ve listed these below in case anyone else is needing some relief!
If itching is mild, I have found over-the-counter medications such as Benadryl may provide temporary relief. I have been taking the liquid gels the last couple of nights, and it has helped to some extent. It has not completely stopped my itching, but it has helped it from being so intense.
For severe and prolonged itching, talking to your doctor would be your best bet. There are some medications that are used to treat this type of itching. Some of these include antidepressants.3
From personal experience, sometimes getting on medications can cause other symptoms to worsen, so I would approach taking any medications for itching with caution. I would never advise you not to take something your doctor has recommended, especially for pesky symptoms like itching, but I would just strongly suggest doing all of your research and making sure it's the right fit for you. That’s what is most important!
Who knew itching could be so all-consuming?
All I know is itching this severe has been something very uncomfortable, and an unwelcome new symptom. For those of you that face this often, I truly feel for you! I honestly had no idea that this symptom could be so difficult. Who knew itching could be so all-consuming! I’m itching for it to leave me alone, that’s for certain. Here’s to hoping we all have an itch-free day soon!
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