Tis the season for warming foods, holiday cheer, and… dry, itchy skin? Cold weather on its own can cause skin to be parched and painful, but many kidney patients also complain of dry, itchy skin that accompanies dialysis. This is called uremic pruritis. Itchy skin affects each person differently and can happen during different times of day. Understanding the causes of uremic pruritis can help determine the best way to manage it and bring relief.
Why is my skin dry and itchy?
There are several causes of dry, itchy skin. It’s possible that multiple factors combine to produce uremic pruritis.
Winter temperatures and wind certainly aren’t doing dry, itchy skin any favors. Humidity is low during the colder months and makes the moisture in your skin evaporate faster. Heating indoor environments has the same effect – low humidity and less moisture.
Excess phosphorous in the blood binds with calcium, potentially causing you to feel itchy if you’re not consistently taking your phosphorous binders as instructed.
Dialysis can cause uremic pruritis if you’re getting treatments too frequently or not frequently enough.
Allergies to certain soaps and detergents, particularly the dyes and fragrances, can trigger a skin reaction.
How can I prevent uremic pruritis?
First, take note of your symptoms. Is your dry, itchy skin worse at certain times of the day? In certain areas? When you use a certain soap or detergent? What, if anything, improves the condition of your skin? Here are a few tips to get your started.
Create a moisturizing routine. Look for moisturizers that are fragrance free. CeraVe, Cetaphil, and Eucerin are a few brands offering hydrating, fragrance-free formulas. Your care team can also recommend products that might work best for your specific symptoms.
We know it’s hard, but don’t scratch or pick at your skin! Scratching tends to lead to more itchiness, and can cause damage or infection.
Follow your kidney diet plan and take medication as instructed. Your kidney diet plan is specific to your individual needs. Strictly following these instructions can limit side effects greatly improve your outcomes.
If you’ve tried these steps and are still struggling with uremic pruritis, talk to your Nephrology Associates of Greater Cincinnati care team. Your dialysis schedule may need to be adjusted or your skin treated with prescription-strength moisturizer.