Itchy skin

Please help!!

Over the past month I’ve had very itchy skin on the backs of my hands and on my arms up to my elbows.

I’ve been prescribed fuxofenadine and condol cream but its 2 in the morning and Im wide awake feeling. Like I’m ready for scratching my skin off.

Its not just itching, it feels painful too, almost like the feeling of being nettled.

If anyone has any suggestions I would really appreciate it.



Hi sazzle0202,

Thank you for your post.

I am sorry you haven’t had any response yet. I am hoping my response will help our members see your post and share their experience and advice.

In the meantime, for any clinical questions, our breast care nurses are here and happy to talk things through.

Sending you our best wishes,


Hi Sarah,

I can completely empathise with you as I suffer badly from this also!  I do have chronic eczema as an underlying health condition but some of the cancer meds can really make me itch much more intensely.  Since being on Capecitabine I also get excruciatingly itchy hands, forearms, ankles and feet.  Sometimes I have actually caused massive breaks in the skin from scratching so hard.

I would really recommend you speak to your Oncologist about this asap. especially as you’re saying the itch is a bit painful, like nettles.  The Oncologist wouldn’t want you to suffer and they might be able to reduce the dose of meds you are on (I found this did help me a lot).  My Oncologist was also able to “fast-track” me through a Dermatology referral so I got seen for all my skin issues within about 5 weeks rather than the usual 12 week waiting list.

My itches are generally much much worse after tea in the evening and then as I’m trying to sleep at night.  I have found a few things that help:

1)  Taking over the counter Piriton (the sedative kind, Chlorphenamine Maleate) is much more helpful for night itches than Fexofenadine (don’t take different types of antihistamines together though unless a medical professional has suggested it).  You can also ask your Onc/GP/Dermatologist for a stronger night time antihistaime as they do exist but they would need to check there was no interaction with your other meds.

2)  You can ask your Onc about taking Phenergan - this is a potent, over the counter antihistamine.  However its worth speaking to your Oncologist before you take this as the ingredient is Promethazine and I think this can interact with a lot of other meds.  It comes with a lot of warnings because it makes you feel so drowsy so please get some medical advice before trying this.

3)  Keep cool at night if you can - I try and place ice packs on my hands and forearms for 15 minutes before I go to sleep and it seems that if I start sleep and feel cool, I’m less likely to itch as I warm up.  I don’t sleep with any kind of duvet or blanket, just a light sheet or a very light “coverlet”.

4)  A tea-tree cream can help soothe the stinging sensation along with the itch and make your skin feel cool - but everyone is different so that might not work for you like it does for me.  Pure aloe vera gel is the only other thing I’ve found that can help.  Keeping creams in the fridge so they are cold when you put them on is also great!

However despite all of those suggestions, the primary reason for your itch could be meds related so you do need to tell your Onc and get some advice on it from that side of things first, as the GP won’t necessarily know what is the best thing to try for you.

Hope you get it resolved soon! xxx