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Itchy Skin and Kidney Disease

Updated: Oct 22

Itchy skin is common in people with chronic kidney disease (CKD). This can be a very serious condition associated with CKD that can be an added personal and mental stress.

Is being itching with Kidney Disease common?

Itching is very common. Itchy skin can affect about half of the patients with kidney disease and almost every patient with kidney failure who is receiving dialysis. You may find that your get itchier as your kidney function declines.

The exact cause for itchy skin in kidney disease is not understood. Some causes may be due to an underlying condition, but some of the issues that have been found or associated with itchy skin are as follows.

  • Being under dialyzed

  • High levels of Phosphate

  • Anemia - shortage of red blood cells

  • Iron deficiency

  • Due to being on a restricted fluid intake

  • Current or exciting allergies.

  • Under moisturized or dry skin

  • Current or exciting Eczema

  • Certain Shampoo body washes or soaps

  • Current or undiagnosed Diabetes

  • Overactive parathyroid glands

  • High magnesium levels in the blood

  • Uraemia - high levels of urea in the blood

How can I calm the itching?

There is not a one size fits all cure or solution to cure the issue of itching caused by kidney disease each of the following is a few tips that we have used from our own experiences.

Some ways to lessen the itching can be accomplished by:

  • Lowering the amounts of Phosphates in your diet.

  • Avoid rubbing the skin to dry after bath or shower. Instead, pat the skin dry

  • Using unscented moisturizing creams the itchy dry areas of your skin,

  • Wearing loose, clothing.

  • Changing your self-care cleaning products like soaps and body washes

Are there any other options?

Itching can be difficult to treat you may try some over-the-counter and home remedies but check with your doctor may be a direction you may have to turn. There is medical help in the form of prescriptions that your doctor can prescribe to you.

  • Gabapentin or pregabalin: These are antiepileptic drugs that can be used for the treatment of itching.

  • Capsaicin cream: It works by reducing a chemical in the body that causes itching.

  • Phosphate binding medications: This type of medication lowers phosphate in your blood.

  • Oral antihistamines: Often used by patients for itching. Although the itching associated with kidney disease is different from the itching associated with an allergic reaction it is found that antihistamines have little to no effect on the itching caused by kidney disease.

Always follow your healthcare team’s advice before taking any over-the-counter medications.

You may be referred to a specialist called a dermatologist or skin doctor. They can help to identify other conditions that may be causing your itching. Some may not be associated with kidney disease.

If itching is still an issue, you may talk to your team to seek someone who would be able to teach in natural ways to help you to manage, such as breathing techniques and other techniques.

If you receive a kidney transplant, the itching that you experienced with your kidney disease will go away.

Read our blog on treatments for CKD

DISCLAIMER: The following blog has been written for educational purposes only. It is Highly and Always recommended that the reader of this blog check with their doctor and or medical team before starting or changing any treatment plan. The writers and staff of Kidney Conversations are not Medical Professionals nor make any claim to be all content is based on personal experience or research conducted online and in no way should be taken as medical advice.
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