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British Liver Trust
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This itch is driving me nuts!

4 weeks ago I had an adverse reaction to Penicillin resulting in severe jaundice and my bilirubin's going up to 330. Since the problem occurred I have battled with sever all over itching which at times feels like severe all over burning.

My levels are now coming down, last check a week ago they were at 128.

I am on Ursodeoxycholic Acid 250mg twice a day and Colestyramine 4g three times a day.

I have been prescribed a range of drugs to help with the itching none of which have worked. I was prescribed Rifampicin 150mg three times a day however having read the patient information leaflet, seen the risks in terms of liver damage and keeping in mind I am recovering from drug induced liver damage, I have decided to steer well clear of these.

My question is, as my levels come down how long will it take for the itching to clear up?

5 Replies

Normal bilirubin level is below 21, so you have a way to go yet. Is it there all the time or worse when you get hot or are wearing certain clothes.


There all the time but definitely worse at night, which stops me from sleeping well.


When nothing seems to work and people keep telling you 'try not to scratch' - but it's not an itch you can even describe - it's insatiable - bear in mind there are lots of us on this wonderful site who do know what you are going through. For me, although it probably dries your skin out, I like to take a few quick cool showers a day when the itch is really awful. Hope it improves quickly.


Some find that oatmeal products have a soothing and moisturising effect. If you dont want to make your own oatmeal bath, try Aveeno products which are based on oatmeal. Have a coolish soak in an oatmeal bath before bed and sleep with only as much bedding/nightwear as keeps you comfortable without getting hot. If you scratch in your sleep, there is a product called Tubifast you can get from the doctor/pharmacy which is like a cotton sleeve which you can dress your limbs with so your nails cant damage your skin.


Good Afternoon,

Firstly can I can who/ where you are being treated regarding your liver? Are you seeing a hepatologist? If not then the first thing I would ask the GP to do is refer you to a specialist.

Also, can I ask who prescribed the combination of medications you are taking? Usually you would not be prescribed Ursodeoxycholic acid (Urso) and Cholestyramine together as the Cholestyramine binds bile acid (cancels out the URSO).

Rifamoicin, does have a caution warning for the liver and monitoring the function of your liver while taking it so again it surprises me that you would be prescribed it if you are recovering from a drug induced liver condition: patient.co.uk/medicine/rifa...

I am afraid he only advice I can offer you to help with the itching is probably what you have already been told:

•Have frequent tepid baths

•Try not to get too hot.

•Use lotions such as calamine and aqueous cream (some people say the one with menthol helps)

•Wear loose cotton clothing

•Try not to scratch – try scrating with a baby’s hairbrush as this is less harsh to the skin.

Kind regards

Sandy Forsyth

Patient Support and Information Manager


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