Itchy skin after shower - advice?: Hey, I'm new here. I... - NRAS


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Itchy skin after shower - advice?

heyitsmee profile image
38 Replies

Hey, I'm new here. I've had RA for the past year and am currently on etanercept, mtx and hydroxycholorquine (+ more..). I have finally begun to taper off of prednisolone and am down to 5mg.

I've recently moved to NE England (cold in Nov!) and have been getting some weird skin problems that I wonder if anyone else has experienced (as a result of the cold or side effect of medication).

After showering in warm/hot water (and using sanex 0%, which is gentle stuff) I get horribly itchy all over my arms and legs for 15-20mins, no matter how much moisturiser I add (Neutrogena for dry skin). It's really relentless for that time. I don;t get any rashes, though.

Will ask at pharmacist for advice too but is this common for people with RA? Do you guys experience skin problems? Was it to do with your meds or the cold?

Let me know! Any advice welcome

38 Replies
helixhelix profile image

Could it be a change of water? If you were previously in south east england you will have been showering with hard water. Generally the NE has soft water.

AgedCrone profile image
AgedCrone in reply to helixhelix

So true......when's first lived in the US I found after being in any tap water my skin didn't itch,but went bright red, & the skin around my finger nails peeled off.

After a while it just stopped I put it down to whatever they put in the water there.

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to helixhelix

Maybe you're right! If it is the water quality in NE then there's not much I can do is there...?

Mmrr profile image

Hi , I used to get very itchy skin after showering many, many years ago, 20 year + before my RA diagnosis. Unfortunately I never found anything that helped, but settled on its own after a few months. Sorry I'm not much help.

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Mmrr

No, knowing other people have gone through the same is a great help!

Shalf profile image

Just trying to work out the cause , so - are you itchy in/coming out of shower or is it after towel drying? Wondering if it could be a reaction to washing powder/ tablets?

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Shalf

That is an interesting thought.. I was living with my sister over the summer and she uses really eco stuff to wash her clothes... I'm now using some dermatological washing liquid. Maybe I will change to something else and see what happens!

Shalf profile image
Shalf in reply to heyitsmee

It's worth changing brands to test it. I've had a reaction without any rashes due to washing powder. Keep us posted X

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Shalf

Mine also has no rash! Hmm... I will definitely let you know! Ta x

Hi there, I had to stop taking Hydroxychloroquine because it caused me really bad itching (to the point of being very distressing) - not only after a shower but at random times during the day. It started mildly after a fortnight of use, and got progressively worse. No rashes though.

As to options, you’re already doing the right thing regarding shower wash and moisturising. I asked a pharmacist if anything could help, and he said nothing over the counter. I asked him if Prednisone might help and he said yes.

Is it possible that as you’re weaning off prednisone, that the itching has started? Hope you find a solution, because the thing literally drove me bonkers 🤣 cheers Deb

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to

I am really suspicious of this beginning within 2 weeks of me maintaining 5mg/prednisolone/day! I'll have a chat with my GP and maybe gp up to 7.5

Cal48 profile image

Could be the brand of hydroxychloroquine

I have had this problem with quinoric . Also I only use Korres make of shower gel as others can Effect my skin. As I Find many creams cause skin problems I only use Aveno .I have RA

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Cal48

The brand changes so much with each prescription I get! Can't keep up

Gnarli profile image

I've always had sensitive skin and found many products have caused very dry skin and itching. Aveeno do a shower gel and using that and their moisturiser the itching is not such a problem for me. The change of water, washing detergents and fabric softeners could also cause skin problems as can hydroxy. It may be worth trying the simple changes before looking at the more major stuff. I find it difficult to differentiate between difficulties due to RD and just the ordinary irritations of life and it's not always RD. I hope this helps


heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Gnarli

You're so right, I'm going to make a list of these recommendations and try to change little things one by one. Thanks for the advice!

Edgie97 profile image

Hello, I’ve had this for years, way before I was actually diagnosed with RA. It’s a type of allergy to the chemicals in the water (it’s worse in different areas due to the water companies putting different chemicals in different places)

I am taking an anti-histamine every night (once a day) and it has made such a difference. After a week, next to no itchiness, the redness goes down and I don’t get hives anymore.

The best part is, the anti-histamines cost £1.99 in the pharmacy and lasted me over a month!

Please try, it’s worth a shot and won’t do you any harm, it took me years to figure this out so I know how irritating it is x

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Edgie97

So do you take antihistamines daily? Just the normal stuff in use for hayfever, etc?

Edgie97 profile image
Edgie97 in reply to heyitsmee

Yeah exactly! I take it with food in the evening to avoid it affecting my stomach, I take Cetirizine purely because it works for me, but there are other types. If you have the same as me, then I’d really recommend it!

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Edgie97

Great idea, thanks Edgie! I will try this out and see if it makes a difference

Edgie97 profile image
Edgie97 in reply to heyitsmee

Wish you the best 💖

Rubyroo1 profile image
Rubyroo1 in reply to heyitsmee

Just a thought, check that whichever antihistamine you get doesn't cause any issues with the meds you are on - the pharmacist will be able to check this for you.

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Rubyroo1

good shout x

TPaine profile image

hello I have been itchy with benepali so am taking an antihistamine on injection day which is helping. I am trying minimal use (weekly) as antihistamines can affect liver (also on MTX and had raised ALT a couple of months back). I am also using eucerin products for shower and for my scalp, as that was the worst for me and seems to be helping too. I found the products on boots website, there are a range of gels and a scalp treatment that may be worth looking at. I am wondering that this is medication reactions as the steroid may have been masking this previously and as you have reduced this it has begun to show itself? I would let your rheumy team know and check if they are happy to add in antihistamine so they are aware. Mine told me if my itch didn't settle I may have to change to another biologic, so best to check with them.

good luck


heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to TPaine

Ahh, I never thought of it being a problem caused by benepali but maksked by steriods.... will discuss with my doc. Thanks!

lucymead profile image
lucymead in reply to heyitsmee

I am on Benepali too and get terrible itching in my head and wrists and body too. was told should subside when body accepts treatment.

heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to lucymead

Only been on benepali for 3months so could still be adjusting....

heyitsmee profile image

I spoke with a pharmacist and they said it could be a folate deficiency problem (meth lowers folate so you have to replace it, which I do 3x/week). Gonna ask my GP to look into that for my next blood test!

Mandalou profile image

Hi heyitsmee

I'm an absolute expert on the symptoms you are describing.

I take 400mg Hydroxychloroquine daily split into two doses and 50mg Benepali injected once a week.

Showering definitely sets the itch off so I always bath if at all possible and wash my hair with the shower attachment in the bath.

The itch for me isn't always just linked to showering and when it started after my diagnosis of sero negative RA and I was going through all the traditional DMARDS one by one and weaning off Prednisalone once the Enbrel ( at the time before I was switched to Benepali ) kicked in.

I thought I couldn't possibly survive the horror. No exaggeration it was and is horrific.

It starts with me feeling an itch on my forehead then it roves to my temple then to the side of my nose then my lower arms or my upper arms!

I rake at my skin with my nails and the only thing to stop it is running my arms under ice cold water it seems to re set the nerves or something.

Anyway, back to when this all kicked off about three years ago.

When it happened I started over dosing myself with over the counter 10mg antihistamines -Benadryl , but this of course concerned me so I got an appointment with my GP straight away, I also contacted my Rheumy nurses and went to the hospital for an emergency appointment.

Apparently because of the roving nature of the itch that is what tells them it is a drug allergy not an allergy to soap or just dry skin etc.

My GP ( Young and super on the ball) said that it's impossible to over dose on Certrazine Hydrochloride ( within reason obviously)

I am prescribed 50mg daily in 10mg doses that I can take to suit me.

I now carry them everywhere with me at all times in case the itch starts in the car for example.

I take it alongside my Hydroxy morning and evening and the Rheumatologist says the benefits of the Hydroxy and the Benepali outweigh the itch.

If I am in a hotel room for work and a shower is my only option I pop a Certrazine Hydrochloride ten minutes before I take the shower.

I would see your GP and also talk to your Rheumy team.

If I didn't take the antihistamine prophylactically like I do I would be suffering the unbearable itch more often , this way I keep a lid on it.

Good luck to you. Hope my experience helps a bit.


heyitsmee profile image

Really good advice with taking antihistamines 10 mins before shower! If all else fails I may try this. Thanks so much for sharing your experience!!

heyitsmee profile image

Excercised for the first time in ages today and legs are itching (no shower). Gah!

Mandalou profile image
Mandalou in reply to heyitsmee

Go to your GP heyitsmee and explain the itch and explain you are concerned it's a drug allergy.

Then if I was in your shoes I would take antihistamine in the morning after breakfast alongside your other tablets.

It's no good taking the antihistamine after the itching episode has begun you need to get it in your system before the itch takes hold.

I just sympathise with you as a I know how dreadful it is. Just another awful complication that us RA'ers have to battle through.

All the best to you.


heyitsmee profile image
heyitsmee in reply to Mandalou

Thanks so much for your advice Mandalou it means a lot :)

AgedCrone profile image

If you haven't been there very long your skin might acclimatise ...but if you use any sort of soap they all contain detergent. Look at lotions like Epiderm in the pharmacy......& although Neutrogena is advertised for dry skin it might not suit your skin if you have just washed with something that irritates.

Best move is to just wash with the water for a couple of days, use no lotions & see if you still itch.

mistymeana profile image

I have always suffered from dry skin that gets itchy at the drop of a hat. It has got worse over the last few years (a natural side-effect of ageing :( ). I take hydroxychloroquine but the worsening dryness and itching didn't coincide with starting it. My GP advised me not to bathe/shower every day if I could avoid it and not to have the water too hot to avoid stripping the skin of its natural oils. This definitely helped. I've also done a lot of research about skin products and many of the mainstream brands use alcohol to help the product evaporate (and maybe perpetuate the need to use the product) which is a known culprit in causing dryness. I've switched to brands without paragons or alcohol - Korres and Soaper Dooper shower gels most recently. The best moisturiser I've found is Body Shop olive body butter. It absorbs quickly and actually works! Organic organ oil is very good too. I hope you find a solution soon as it blooming miserable isn't it? x

mistymeana profile image

Bl**dy autotext! Iv'e actually switched to avoid parabens, not paragons lol.

YES!! Exactly what happened to me on hydroxychloroquine! I too live in NE England and suffered this shortly after starting hydroxychloroquine, but nobody seemed to have heard of it and in the end I just stopped taking the drug and after a few weeks, it all stopped. I’m so pleased to find someone else this has happened to as I found people were sceptical and believed it was more likely to be the washing powder or shower gel I was using. But I literally replaced everything, including using different water and it came down to the water itself. I then assumed chlorine allergy but swimming pools were fine. Once this had been “activated” I found it happened after I’d been using a high dose of venlafaxine and the dose had “built up” in my body, so I had to cut that down.

It wasn’t a pleasant itch that was satisfying to scratch - it was extremely unpleasant and yes, lasted around 20 minutes. It felt like someone had injected me with white hot needles full of itching powder. I didn’t know what to do with myself for those 20 minutes. Chewing a citirizine (antihistamine) helped but of course by the time it took effect the itching had about worn off. I’d spray myself with coolant or slather on menthol cream, but the only cure is to stop taking your hydroxychloroquine. In fact it might be worth reporting this using the Yellow card scheme, because the patient information leaflet doesn’t mention this and it should. I got hold of the full packet insert online and there is some mention of “pruritis”, but it isn’t much.

piggiewiggle profile image

I can't shower in England. The sharpness of the drops of water on the skin seems to induce the itching. Strangely I have no such problems in France. Could this be due to the relative power of the showers I have used?

Baths, with a load of emollients work fine in UK but mostly my skin seems happier with a strip wash

heyitsmee profile image

I have now narrowed it down to the sanex 0% for babies that I have been using for the past week.... pretty sure it is this. Will keep you updated!

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