The Itchy and Scratchy Show!
July 27, 2006 8:25 PM   Subscribe

Every time I get sick (common cold), I get an itch on my back that persists. It's annoying, but as soon as I get better, it goes away. Anyone have any ideas as to what causes it, or am I just a medical anomaly?

For reference, I am a healthy, fit, 20-something male. I excercise frequently and eat right. I rarely get sick, but when I do, I get this recurring itch on my back in the area where my neck meets my shoulders. Scratching it offers no relief. It's simply mildly annoying and it's something I've just come to accept. It goes away as soon as I get better. I've had this symptom as far back as I can remember, and never really mentioned it to my doctor because I've never really been concerned. In fact, I'm still not concerned; I'm really just curious and hoping to learn about what could cause this. Does anyone know what causes this condition? Is it common? Does it have a name? Am I just a medical anomaly?
posted by galimatias to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know, but our son has ezcema, and it flares up when he gets sick. Perhaps this is happening to you?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:35 PM on July 27, 2006

BEFORE I get sick my skin usually gets itchy. Often on my back and on my neck. It's usually better by the time I'm sick, but I think it's just my immune system waking up kind of.
posted by aubilenon at 9:39 PM on July 27, 2006

galimatias: i get itchy in the same spot whenever i cough a lot.
posted by rbs at 10:44 PM on July 27, 2006

Sensory nerves connected to organs inside our bodies are extremely general, and we don't learn to pinpoint the feelings to specific locations as well with most of them the way we do with sensory nerves in our skin. That's why the pain from a heart attack doesn't usually feel like it's in the heart, but instead often feels like it's shooting down one arm.

I have a suspicion that what you're feeling is like that. It's a sensory nerve inside your body which you have conceptually mapped to the skin on your back, even though it doesn't actually connect to there.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:31 PM on July 27, 2006

When I get athsma I always have an itch in the middle of my back, sometimes this also happens when I cough. I wonder if it's related to lung functions.
posted by tomble at 2:13 AM on July 28, 2006

Do antihistimines help?

Could be some bizarre allergy. I know my back starts to itch really badly when I've been in the sun too much, and a little pseudoephedrine helps a lot.
posted by blenderfish at 2:57 AM on July 28, 2006

Response by poster: It's not an allergy, as taking OTC antihistamines doesn't do anything. I also don't have asthma and don't have eczema or any other skin condition of which I am aware. I'm stumped too!

Maybe Steven C. Den Beste is right and I've just got some strange mapping of sensory nerves that just go active when I am sick.
posted by galimatias at 4:15 AM on July 28, 2006

Also, look up viral rashes.
posted by IronLizard at 8:42 AM on July 28, 2006

In terms of Chinese Medicine, what we call a cold they would call a wind invasion. The area you are describing is associated with the Tia Yang meridian, the most superficial meridian in the body and the first one to be affected by evil pernicious influences. They also consider an itch to be "windy". From their perspective your symptoms are unremarkable.
You might see if you can sweat it out. If you are cool enough drink ginger tea, take a ginger bath and wrap up. Stay wrapped until you stop sweating. If you have a sorethroat try hot mint tea which will cool you down and cause you to break a sweat. Yin Chao is the classic patent medicine for this.
posted by pointilist at 11:34 AM on July 28, 2006

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