British Liver Trust
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Itching in one part of the body a sign of liver disease?

I have a persistent itching sensation on the left side of my rib cage. Can this be a sign of liver disease? . I am very worried about this. All my liver function tests have been normal and I don't have jaundice, broken veins, etc

For several years I felt I might be an alcoholic ....or on the verge of being one or at least drinking too often. While I drank frequently, it was only for parties or to ease social anxiety ( not that I'm minimizing this) . Those times were binge drinking, and I had hangovers several times a month. I never drank alone.

But things changed for the better in the last few years. For instance, I stillnever drink alone but only when I have social anxiety, like when I have to be in groups of people, especially large ones.

Since we're not huge party people, I drink maybe 2 -3 times a month. However, when I do drink, I tend to drink more than the recommended amount per hour because it helps me relax, (but no hangover the next day) .

I also go out of my way to avoid drinking frequently, even making excuses about being "sick" to keep my drinking to a minimum.

How common is localized itching as a sign of liver disease?

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The itch of liver disease can be localized, but is always due to high bilirubin, which should have been flagged in your blood labs.

The itch is also quite intense, with patients describing scratching themselves till they bleed.

Normal bili, & moderate itching is due to something else. Dry indoor winter weather?

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Hi met-enjoy reading your posts- from my experience they’re pretty much spot in. With respect to itching- I’ve experienced this on the legs- normally calves and shins and strangely I have this for a week or so after I’ve stopped drinking and then disappears . Bilirubin levels have always been normal but stools on the pale side but variable. I’ve been diagnosed with fatty liver from u/s and high ggt. I put this down to low level alcoholic hepatitis which normally comes clear after 2-3 months. Otherwise well. Cheers

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Thanks for the kind words bric. I got sick with alcoholic steatohepatitis 7 years ago, and have been researching alcoholic liver disease ever since.

Keeping active on the forums helps keep me clean & sober!

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Yes I suspect that’s what I’ve got-having a dry-ish January and feeling better. Take care

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Just my experience met... my bilirubin levels were always normal but in at least 3 occasions I had flare ups of intense itching on the legs after I gave up drinking- it’s just happened again. I think it’s a low level hepatitis which gets worse before it gets better and then gradually subsides.

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Hi' it's useully the right side that's where your liver is so no need to worry but the less alcohol the better' me I don't touch it haven't for 3and a half year nearly so hope that helped.

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I have this itching on one side as well and waiting for results of blood test.

However, I have never been a heavy drinker but think my liver may be susceptible due to a family history of autoimmune disorders, which can (but not always or necessarily even very often) affect the liver.

You perhaps should have a Hep C test, a simple blood test. It is being recommended more and more, even for nondrinkers because anyone can be exposed to Hep C and it is not a rare condition. A

lso, at least discussing the possibility of an autoimmune condition (polymalagia rheumatic is worthwhile because it affects up to 20% of people over 50) might be useful.

Finally, shingles is very prevalent in older people, those over 50 (don't know how old you are) and one sided itching and rash is an early symptom. I had shingles and if you get treated early, you won't suffer long lasting damage. Its vital. I was miserable because I ignored the rash and dismissed it as an allergic reaction.

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Hello, have you checked your blood sugars?

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