How to stop itching while asleep?
December 1, 2011 6:24 PM   Subscribe

I have a problem with itching at night. How can I stop itching when I'm not even awake? (warning, GonadFilter!)

For unknown reasons (not an infection or fungus), my balls itch. I use some prescription powder and generally don't have a problem during the day, but often at night I'll wake myself up by itching. And once I start, it's very hard to stop. How can I prevent myself from itching while I'm half-asleep?

I'm not a great sleeper so complicated restraints are probably not going to work. And I thought about mittens but I'd probably just itch right through them. Your creative ideas are welcome.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am not a guy, so take this with a proper amount of skepticism. You could have a sensitivity to your detergent. that could mean switching to a non-perfumed variety, or double rinsing your underclothing. Not sure about that, because your itching might show up on other skin areas. Do you wash up before bed? If not, try doing so. If you do, try a gentle soap. Dr. Bronners is a favorite on Mefi. You could try taking a benadryl before bed.
posted by annsunny at 7:21 PM on December 1, 2011

My skin allergies to laundry detergant and soap fragrances never really bother me anywhere except my lady bits-it's a very sensitive place to have fabric impregnated with something you're allergic to all day. Try switching to all hypoallergenic laundry detergent and soap.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:30 PM on December 1, 2011

Maybe sleep with a nice cool damp handkerchief on your nightstand for patting/cooling instead of scratching.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:31 PM on December 1, 2011

If your are prone to dry skin and eczema, powders can further dry and irritate your skin. Don't be afraid to slap a bit of moisturiser on the old marble bag. I discovered this many moons ago when grappling with my own dry skin and eczema, and it made a big difference doing that after a shower.

Other than that, as an eczema sufferer I can only say that you do - kind of - get habituated to ignoring itches are a long time. Exercise helps me for deeper sleep.
posted by smoke at 7:38 PM on December 1, 2011

One other possible irritant is fabric softener.
posted by annsunny at 7:46 PM on December 1, 2011

If you do go the moisturizer route, Aveeno lotions and creams contain oatmeal extracts and I find they work really well for itchy skin elsewhere... I can't vouch for how well it would work on your nutsack though. I like the Intense Repair cream, it's very rich and soothing.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 9:07 PM on December 1, 2011

I'll wake myself up by itching. And once I start, it's very hard to stop. How can I prevent myself from itching while I'm half-asleep? ... I thought about mittens but I'd probably just itch right through them

I was confused by this until I figured out that you're using "itching" to describe both a sensation (itchiness) and an action (scratching).

Scratching an itch is indeed one of life's basic pleasures, but it's often not the most effective way to make the itchiness go away.

I think Juliet Banana has essentially the right idea, but instead of a damp handkerchief I'd recommend a damp terry-towelling washcloth. That would be rough enough to give you a satisfying scratching sensation, but unlike scratching with fingers it would also cool you and might actually have some chance of removing whatever it is that's making you itchy. It would also be a good tool for smearing on a small amount of a soothing mild antiseptic like Savlon.
posted by flabdablet at 10:13 PM on December 1, 2011

Also: switch to all-cotton underwear if you're not already using it, and change it every day if you're not already doing that.
posted by flabdablet at 10:14 PM on December 1, 2011

Have you checked for a fungal infection everywhere? I was getting bad eczema and scratching my face at night (my cheeks were completely gross) without being aware. I was doing all kinds of things to control it (moisturize (Cetaphil), no sulfate shampoo, reducing my soap use, hypoallergenic everything, etc.) which was working but it didn't go away. What finally happened is my doctor noticed one dime-sized patch on my arm (not even in the armpit) that was ringworm. I treated that with a anti-fungal cream and everything cleared up. Now when my eczema comes back I know to look for fungal patches (I guess I'm sensitive?), treat those and things are so much better.

I'd also recommend over the counter cortisone cream but I don't know if there are any restrictions on where you can use it (well, it's not good on your face because it causes thinning of the skin and wrinkles but that's probably not a problem). And keep your nails trimmed super short.

Good luck. I've started itching my face at night again and it sucks.
posted by hydrobatidae at 7:57 AM on December 2, 2011

Female, but had a similar problem. Dermotologist told me to wipe the area with Cetaphil (I use a generic version) every time I had to use a toilet. No rinse necessary. She said that repeated fungal infections had made the skin really sensitive, which needed to be soothed.

After a few days, the itching went away and I got sloppy. When it threatens, I get serious about it again for a few days.

May be worth a try.
posted by QIbHom at 10:53 AM on December 2, 2011

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