Back brush leads to bad itch
June 17, 2008 8:30 PM   Subscribe

Why do I get a really bad itch on my back after using a back brush in the shower?
posted by TheManChild2000 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, the obvious answer is "you're allergic to it." Try testing the bristles on another part of your body, see if that gets itchy.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:37 PM on June 17, 2008

I wonder if it could be wee beasties growing in the bristles because it gets wet everyday and sits there wet, all day. Maybe you could test it by buying a brand new brush with the same kind of bristles and see if it happens on the maiden voyage.

If it does, you can probably attribute it to damage of some sort. If the bristles are very stiff, perhaps that could be exacerbating things by damaging the skin slightly. Perhaps that alone would cause itching and perhaps if there are doodz growing in ur bristles, they get ground down into your top layers of skin, where they go, "BAILAMOS, MUCHACHOS!"

Or maybe it's those microcuts + shampoo with stuff in it that doesn't like you.

One last longshot, just in case you have misattributed the cause, I've been shopping for shower water filters online tonight. A lot of the reviews I read are from people who used to get itchy skin after their showers because of the chlorine in the water. After using the filters, they report that the itchy skin goes away and their hair looks and feels better and scalp problems go away. So maybe the back brush is a red herring. Are you in a new place with different water? Or if you're where you've always been, and this has always been a problem, has the problem gone away on vacation or other times when you're somewhere with different water?
posted by kookoobirdz at 8:50 PM on June 17, 2008

Was it a natural bristle brush?

If you have any allergies (or latent allergies) to animal fur or dander then you might have experienced something akin to the startling misadventure that I experienced a few years ago when I--someone mildly allergic to contact with raw wool and cats (although I love both)--indulged myself in the purchase of an absurdly fancy $11 natural boar bristle toothbrush from a German apothecary (ye olde) shop(pe) (one of those exquisitely tasteful kind of places where every purchase is wrapped in crisp and immaculate paper so lovingly that you entirely disassociate from the reality that you just paid $12 for a bar of soap.)

At home that night I shut myself into the bathroom and brushed and brushed and brushed with that glorious all-natural brush for a few deeply satisfying moments. This simple and brief experience was so aesthetically pure and rewarding that I left the bathroom with aggressively minty breath and the utter conviction that $11 was a bargain price for such a majestically earthy dental care possession (one which was, after all, made in the SWISS ALPS.)

...Until the next morning: I woke up with my entire mouth and gums as swollen red as a birthday balloon and as itchy as the bites of 500 Wisconsin chiggers—chiggers with herpes.

Turns out, that natural boar bristle brush was not so good at scrubbing gunk between the tiles under the oven, so I pitched it.
posted by applemeat at 9:17 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

Could it be you just have sensitive skin and are irritating it? It doesn't need to even be an allergic reaction per se; some people can end up with pretty badly inflamed skin just from any sort of light scratching/abrasion. (There's probably a fancy medical term for it; I've always just thought of it as falling under the general header of 'sensitive skin' and moved on.)

It sounds a bit like a "it hurts when I do this" kind of problem ...
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:31 PM on June 17, 2008

Answers -
Tested the plastic bristles: no itches on other body parts.
Brush leans up against the wall and drains, in a hot room: it's not wet for very long.
No other itches from the water: only on the back when I use the brush.
No herpetic Wisconsin chiggers.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 9:34 PM on June 17, 2008

Because your skin is too dry after the brushing. Use a body moisturiser and the problem will disappear. Your skin will feel wonderful too.
posted by shelleycat at 9:53 PM on June 17, 2008

shelleycat has it nailed.

You have scrubbed away your natural oils - so, unless you moisturise it will itch until your body exudes more...

(This happens to me all the time (only on the back), with either brush, "loufa" or wash-cloth.)
posted by jkaczor at 9:56 PM on June 17, 2008

If moisturizer doesn't work, you might be allergic to SLS, which is a foaming agent in most soap products -- you usually have to specifically seek out an SLS soap at a health food store or other similar place in order to get one. You might be saying, "Wait, but I only my back itches! I use the soap everywhere." Sometimes you only get rashes on certain parts of the body, though. For example, I can't use SLS soap on my limbs, but I don't get rashes anywhere else from it.

Keep in mind the above suggestions are a more likely cause. I'm just putting this out there in case it turns out to be what's causing the problem. For what it's worth, I didn't get rashes from SLS until I was 21 or so, so you can develop the allergy later in life.
posted by Nattie at 10:26 PM on June 17, 2008

There are tiny bugs living on your back (mites!). When they get hungry for more dead skin (you washed away their dinner!) they make you itch. When you scratch, you scrape more dead skin around, and some of it creates the mites a dinner. I do not know, but do not think you want to be rid of these mites (assuming it was possible).
posted by Goofyy at 7:12 AM on June 18, 2008

What shelleycat said. Use a moisturizer on your wet skin immediately after getting out of the shower.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:47 AM on June 18, 2008

It's possible you suffer from dermatographism. Quote: "The areas of skin that are touched or scratched get a raised, red and itchy rash. " I suffer from it myself and the sensitivity varies from body part to body part.
posted by chairface at 1:43 PM on June 18, 2008

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