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PBC Foundation
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What is the cause of the itching?

I know that liver disease causes itching - but what causes it? Is it inflammation? toxins?

I'm on Olestyr / Cholestyramine and it works great to take away the itch. But now I'm getting itchy again. Dr. says I can take more olestyr but I want to understand why I itch so I can decide if it matters. (ie if its toxins that the olestyr is wisking away that's a good thing for my liver... if not I'll stand a bit of itching until it gets bad)

4 Replies

Hi TheresaPeters

Some have said that the bile leaks our through our pores and causes the itching but I am not sure that they really know what causes the so called itch of PBC.

There are currently studies to find something that will help with this problem so I believe that the medical profession do not know truly what causes the problem otherwise they would have already worked out something beneficial for all of those who suffer with itching from various liver problems.

There is an article on itching in the Bear Facts magazine of the PBC Foundation (free to join if you are not yet a member) I believe it was the Spring 2015 edition which may give you further insight.

Personally I found reducing red meat, processed meats i.e., salami etc any processed foods and drinks which contain high levels of sugar or salt whilst increasing vegetables and fruits and generally having a healthy diet mixed with good exercise has had a beneficial impact on my health and my weight.

best wishes


My hep specialist gave me cholestyramine. He said it binds to whatever causes the itch and eliminated through the bowel so no liver effort. It works well with littleorno side effects

1 like

My understanding is that the bile acids leak out of bile ducts which are "attacking themselves" and rise to the surface of just under the skin.

Kathleen in Ohio, 73, Stage 3


British Liver Trust says itching is not because of bile, but other chemicals that are being retained in the body.


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