What makes me itch?
June 5, 2006 12:53 PM   Subscribe

I have an itch.

For about two years now, I've had a persistent itch on my back, on the spinal cord side of my left shoulder blade. it's not 24/7 persistent, but it itches at least a dozen times a day, every day, and scratching it only stops the itch for about 20 minutes. In the time I've had it, it hasn't gotten better, but it also hasn't gotten any worse - it's just always there.

There's no rash on my back that I can see; no bite, no indication of eczema and no dry/flaking skin of any sort - my back looks as normal as a back can look, by all accounts. I don't change detergents/fabric softeners often, and I've used the same soap forever, so I don't think that's the issue.

What on earth could be causing this itch? I've got a dermatologist appointment in a couple weeks, but I'd like to go in there with a little more than I've got, information-wise.
posted by pdb to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Assuming it's not a skin problem, it could be nerve-related, or it could be an internal organ issue. When I have mild asthma attacks, I sometimes confuse irritation within the lungs for an itch on my torso and scratch incessantly until I realize that coughing solves the problem.
posted by randomstriker at 1:07 PM on June 5, 2006

How stressful is your lifestyle? It could be psychological. I'm not a psychologist though. Until your appointment, you could always try taking an antihistamine like benadryl. That should help relieve the itch.
posted by tdreyer1 at 1:08 PM on June 5, 2006

Response by poster: I have a relatively stress-free lifestyle; what stress I do have I usually end up storing in my right shoulder as a wicked muscle cramp.

I sometimes confuse irritation within the lungs for an itch on my torso and scratch incessantly until I realize that coughing solves the problem.

That's interesting. I don't have asthma, but I do have hay fever - I've never noticed (or looked for) a correlation, but i'll keep my eyes open...
posted by pdb at 1:12 PM on June 5, 2006

Eczema doesn't have to occur with a rash. My daughter has it and some parts of her skin itch with no rash.

Do you get allergy shots by any chance? I once has a horrible itching on my neck. No rash. It took a year to figure out that some people (like me) have a bad reaction to the dust mite extract in allergy shots (when in high dosage). When the strength of my shots was reduced, the itching went away.

Bottom line: itching can be caused by any number of things. Look forward to your visit with your dermotologist!
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 1:40 PM on June 5, 2006

I have the same thing but mine is on the right side. It is a very small area but it is always itchy in the exact same place.
posted by cellar at 1:47 PM on June 5, 2006

Response by poster: I don't get allergy shots. that's good to know about eczema, though, I'm a big fan of the simple explanation. We'll see what the doc has to say...
posted by pdb at 1:50 PM on June 5, 2006

You may have a compressed nerve. Visit a chiropractor or massage therapist.

Re chiropractors -- there seem to be two types of practitioners, and each may have two modes of practice:

1) Rough, forceful
2) Gentle, mild

A) Lots of visits, very expensive
B) up to one visit per week, with time to allow body to adapt to the adjustment.

Chiropractors of type 1A tend to give you an X-ray first, which adds another 100 bucks to the bill. I would recommend seeing a massage therapist and asking for a referral to someone of the 2B type of chiropractor :-).

This isn't meant to deride 1A-style chiropractors. They tend to come by that style because it is the one that feels best for themselves, for instance if they are built like football players and the mild method has no effect on them personally.
posted by Araucaria at 3:51 PM on June 5, 2006

You could have a low-grade fungal infection of the skin called tinea versicolor, caused by the yeast (fungal) organism malassezia furfur. See the wikipedia article here. The solution to this is using a ketaconazole shampoo. There is an over-the counter strength but if someone can write you a prescription, the prescription-strength is more worth your while. You can probably get away with using it 2-3x a week, but be sure to shampoo your face, neck, chest and back as well as your hair.
posted by emg at 7:28 PM on June 5, 2006

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