Brachioradial Pruritis: Scratching Makes the Itching Worse

A 45 year old woman presented to my office complaining of a burning itching rash on both her arms.She had seen several doctors and tried various creams and oral antihistamines without relief. Only applying an ice pack seems to alleviate her symptoms. She is frustrated. On exam she had a few subtle excoriations (scratches) on her forearms, but no other signs of rash or disease.

Brachioradial pruritis is a condition characterized by intractable itching on the top of the forearms (overlying the brachioradialis muscle). Patients often report that the itching actually gets worse with scratching instead of better. It affects mostly middle aged women (which all my patients have been) and presents as a burning and itching sensation on the arms. The symptoms can sometimes be described as tingling or even painful. It can involve one or both arms.

Unfortunately the cause is not well understood. Current thinking is that it is associated with sun damage and/or with cervical nerve root impingement. The sun damage theory is that deep penetrating ultraviolet light (UVA) damages fine pain nerve fibers in the skin of the arms. The cervical spine theory is that impingement (pinching) of the C5 to C8 cervical nerve roots leads to nerve damage. The nerves that emerge from these roots provide sensation to the arms, so damage to them might cause the burning and itching symptoms. Although studies have found that cervical spine disease is more common in patients with brachioradial pruritis, no study has demonstrated that cervical spine disease causes the condition.

Treatments for brachioradial pruritis include:

  • Avoidance of sun exposure (probably most important)
  • Topical capsaicin (hot pepper oil)
  • Gabapentin
  • Cervical spine manipulation
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as naproxen (Alleve®)
  • Above all, I think it is helpful just to have a physician who understands that the patient’s symptoms are real and who is willing to try various treatments until a satisfactory remedy is found.

263 thoughts on “Brachioradial Pruritis: Scratching Makes the Itching Worse

  1. Hello Everyone,

    I just wanted to tell everyone that I was diagnosed with BRP on my last visit to the Derm. And it is a nerve condition. Your body releases histamines in low level, but the Dr. told me that is not slowly release when you have BRP that is dump into your blood stream which causes the nerves to go haywire and cause the unbearable itching. I can honestly say that my itching has been gone seen I have been on the medicine. I have been taking 1 singulair once a day and 2 periactin twice aday and 2 Claritin a day.. It is a lot of medicine but it works..And I just wanted tell everyone that the rash that I had is from scratching is what the Dr. said. There is BRP and also notalgia paresthetica which is the same thing as BRP except it is year around.. We dont know if mine is gone from the summer months or if is the medication. The Dr. does not want me to go off the medicine just incase it is notalgia paresthetica. I know that I have suffered 10 years+ and I am so thankful that I found this Derm. He has done a biopsy , lots of blood work.. And has be
    talking to a specialist at UVA. I do believe that my prayers have finally been answered.
    If anyone has any question you can contact me by e-mail at Sun screen is a must and cover your arm at all times when you are outside.. I wish everyone good luck.. Hello Janice :)


  2. Hi Vicki-Glad that the antihistamines are working for you. But I have to question the Dr.’s explnation that when one has BRP the antihistamines’ are “dumped into the bloodstrream” – wouldn’t one itch all over ones body then? Why just the arms? Did he give an explanation forthis? Just curious, because i still tend to think it is related to pressure on the Brachioradial nerve. Keep usposted on your progress- andcould you post the addy for the other blog?

  3. Hi Janice,

    I guess I did not make my self clear. It is all a little over whelming and a little hard to repeat what he say. He did tell me that it does involve the Brac. nerve and that the nerve runs into your forearms and shoulders and pinching of the nerve causes the itch and causes the your body to release to much histamines. And also causes the redness and burning sensation…that we have experienced. You memtioned posting this on another blog–I don’t know any other site. I hope this answered your questions..


    • I have lupus and all my docs could not figure out why I was itching on my arms without a rash. Mostly this was happening at night or while I was at rest. Sometimes I scratched so hard that I would bleed. I tried all kinds of creams and meeds. I finally saw a neurologist and she dx me with restless leg syndrome even tho my legs did not itch! To my surprised she was right and now I am on meds that are working. Pruritis without a rash is very hard to diagnose. It can be so many things including a symptom of lymphoma.

  4. my arms have itched before, but I never thought much of it, besides scratching it till it was pink.

    Last night, at a praise and worship evening with Jesus Culture, my arms suddenly started itching again. I thought it was the sweat and heat of the church I was in.After not being able to sleep, I jumped online to find out about BRP.

    To those who are itching, rest assured, it’s been interesting to see how the blogs and forums have developed over the years, narrowing the beast down more and more, until finally there is a pin-pointed remedy. Until then, pray for it in Jesus’ name. He lead me online. He’ll lead you to your remedy too.

    Im 22 years old. Fit and active, from South Africa.

  5. Hi fellow BRP sufferers. I have not been on this site in a long time, but that doesn’t mean I’m not suffering. For a quick fix but not very long lasting, Solarcaine has been helping me out. Remember Solarcaine? They still make it, and it will take the itch away until you can get busy with something else to take your mind off it. I don’t know if you can put aerosol cans in the fridge, but that might even feel better! I’m still on the fence about all the spine stuff… I’ve been a sufferer for 15 years now. Yes, I’ve had scoliosis surgery way back when. My mom had this, my nephew has it and one of my sisters has it. And why would it be at only certain times if something is wrong with your spinal column??? If there’s something pinching something, how would it know to pinch during certain seasons???

  6. Lalurel- It is thought that UV rays aggravate the nerve endings to exaccerbate the itching. Hence, sun exposure will supposedly worsen the itch. I’m still itch-free after 14 months on gabapentin!!

    • Hi Janice,

      I would like to know the doage of gabapentin and how many times you take it a day. The gabapentin really helps, but I just starting taking this med and have not got it regulated for the worst part of this condition which is late spring, summer and into November. Thanks.

      Diane in Michigan

  7. I went to my neurologist who was not helpful at all- she told me that it wasn’t a big deal and that there was nothing I could really do.

    I did find an accidental cure, however- due to the massive amounts of snow we had this year. Because of the snow I had to hike out to my car daily (driveway was too long to plow- a quarter of mile)- at any rate, I stopped wearing high heels for about a month while our driveway thawed and all my itchiness (and most of my migraines) disappeared. When the snow cleared and I pulled out high heels again it all came back. I have given up the heels for good and have not had one itchy moment since. :)

    My guess is the high heels were causing some sort of pinching that caused it all for me… I’m not a doc but this is a better explanation (and cure) than my neurologist could come up with!

  8. @Janice
    Hi Janice. But still, I’m not out in the sun during the winter months with my arms exposed. The itch will come. My left arm started to itch about 3 months ago. I used everything in my personal arsenol, of course ice packs are a saving grace when nothing else works. Now, here we are mid-May and my arm is fine. Spent plenty of time in the sun doing yard work and such. It disappeared just as quickly as it appeared. I think there is much more research to be done on this. I really don’t want to start taking pills for this as I am already on meds for HBP. This didn’t start with me until I was 32 and pregnant. I was SO hoping it was a hormone thing… But, like I said in previous posts, my mom had it, ONE of my sisters’ has it and my nephew has it!!! Go figure. My arms are scarred from my “home remedies”.

  9. thank you. i have this I am sure but noone has been able to figure it out. I am more than convinced this is exactly what I have on my arms. It feels much better to know I am not crazy

  10. laurel- same here-I would have intense itching during winter months also- but then around March or april it would subside, only to re=appear over the summer. So, I don’t know if the UV light theory has any merit or not.

  11. Hello,

    I am glad I found this site. My wife has recently been suffering from this but her’s seems to be very erratic and only in the shoulder area? It seems to hit mostly at night. I read somewhere that some Doctor’s believe that someone who has previously had shingles could be more susceptible to this condition? Anyone have input on that?


  12. Hello fellow scratchers! Like most of you I’m elated that I not only found this site but that I’m not alone and I’m not crazy! I’ve had “the itchies” for about 13 years. I’ve only asked one doctor about my condition. He told me the reason my left arm itched was because I’m right handed! I wonder what his diagnosis would be now since my right arm is affected as well. As I write this I’ve got a bag of frozen peas on my arm. It seems like I used to get it in the winter months so I’ve always been grateful I had some reprieve but it’s the end of July and I’m going crazy! I’m very curious about the cervical issue. Would there be back pain associated with the pinched nerve? I have a very strong back and rarely have pain. Two things however are that a chiropractor once told me I have slight scoliosis. When I questioned him as to why I don’t look it he said because I’m thin that if I were heavier it would be more apparant. Another chiropractor many years ago told me I have no curve in my neck and I do get neck pain on occassion. I’ve tried every single remedy mentioned in the 106 posts I’ve just red but I have one to add. Out of sheer desperation I used my dog’s medicated itch stick! Didn’t help much. Unfortunately I don’t have insurance so being tested is out of the question. I live in Portland Oregon and once stumbled upon an article about a doctor at Oregon Health Sciences University that was conducting a study. I’m hoping she’d like a new “speciman” Also,it’s interesting that about 25 years ago I apparantly had what I’m sure would be considered a minor case of shingles. I’ve never had a reoccurance but for about the past 5 or 6 years I’ve been prone to hives. I’ve attributed that to an allergy I believe may be caused by evergreens (I think cedar) and/or lycra. Because of that I tend to believe it may be an auto-immune deficiency. I’ll keep checking back to let you know if I have any luck with the dr. at OHSU. I just can’t imagine living with this condition for the rest of my life! Also I’m 55 so was in my early 40’s. I’m a poster child! Bless us all for being here for each other.

  13. WoW! I am so thankful to have found other sufferers so that I now know too, that I am not CRAZY! The countless doctors, both general practitioners and dermatologists as well as pharmacists, have all tried to tell me everything from drink more water, to take antidepressants to use creams for itching and/or moisturizing!!!! Until a friend of a friend was diagnosed with BP the doctors were making me feel like it was all in my head!!! Now with printed info from google in hand, I am off to see my GP again!! Let’s see what she says THIS time!!!!! I also have spoken to my chiropractor and he is reading up on it to see what he can do to help!

    Thank you everyone and best of luck to all of you!!

  14. I have been suffering with this condition for approx 5 years now.
    Thank God for ice! I too, have been to the doctor, but no avail. He say’s that “I only think that I itch”; pretty expensive advise! Anyways, I have tried to “unthink” it, doesn’t work. I purchased everything, from creams to vitamins, done all the homemade remedies, wore long shirts, avoid sun exposure..etc. Nothing helped except for ice packs. One day my brother suggested for me to try Nizerol, it worked!! It was a glorious day. However, it was short-lived and the product no longer is affective :( It seems that this conditon does come in cycles. I do have Crohns, but im pretty sure its not secondary to that.
    As I sit here with my arm wrapped in an ice pack now, desperately looking on the net for a remedy and found this site, I feel like I had to write and at least be among the many, many people that are in this same situation. If anyone wants more infor. I will be happy to share. I am open for any suggestions as well. Keep the faith and pray that some doctor takes this serious enough to get some answers for us. Till then, at least we can support each other. Best Regards to all.

  15. I’m suffering under BRP for about 3 years. I have tried every “over the counter” medicine and lotion possible. My Dermathologist prescribed sleeping pills because he thought I have insomnia. Of cause I couldn’t sleep (without ice packs on my arms) but the reason was my BRP. About a year ago I found on a German webside that they treat BRP with Gabapentin. Since then I take two 600 MG Gabapentin a day and my itch is 90% gone. Just once in a while it comes back for some days but in general I feel much better.

    • Hi Jen.. I have just started a rash and itching under my arms in addition to horrendous shouler and inside elbow itching. I have been afraid to try neurotin but I think i might have to. My upper shoulders look and feel terrible! the itching, the burning.. it unbearable. Ice helps.. but I want it to go away! I am seeing a chiropractor which helps, as does sarna several times a day. I also have lidocaine patches for when it is the worst, and if time allows, I take tylenol pm.. NOW it has moved from my right arm to include my left and now under my arms.. this is maddening.. but helpful to know I am not crazy …very hard to diagnose.. all docs wanted to prescribe a cream but nothing worked…

  16. Please please please..go out today and buy Capzacin-HP! I have suffered with this condition for years, tried every cream, every pill, ice packs, etc, etc..this is THE SOLUTION!! Since I diagnosed myself with the help of all of your comments, I thought I’d give back by giving you this info!! Remember, this is not your skin! It’s your nerves!! Thank you sooo much..whoever suggested Capzacin has saved me!! Please..sufferers: Try this cream!!! (Make sure it’s HP, not regular Capzacin..the HP contains .1% , the regular Capzacin only has .075%. I love you all! Good luck!!

  17. Hi everyone- Glad to find this blog…after 15 years of this, and my story sounds like everyone else’s- it’s good to know I’m not alone, I’m not crazy (yes, I’ve gotten the looks, too.) After all the doctors, and specialists, it was finally (another)dermatologist who diagnosed this within 30 secs after reading my history and simply flipping my arms over once! Apparently the key diagnostic feature of BRP is that there are no lesions or sensations happening on the underside of the arms. The flare ups seems to be getting longer over time and just wipe me out. The dermatologist said I needed intensive chiropractic since it is a nerve condition. So far, I’m still just on ice packs (Rubbermaid lunch sized Blue Ice packs are the best- they don’t break and they stay colder longer for those nasty night sessions. Coleman packs are crap.). I’ve tried the amytryptaline, Gabapentin- but they leave me a zombie. Antihistamines sometimes help. I’m doing the “intensive chiropractic” thing now- we’ll see where I’m at in about 3-4 months. I do have some nasty degeneration in my neck from old injuries. He’s including cold lasar and photoelectric magnetic treatments with the spinal adjusting. I think I’ll try that CapzacinHP that Jan mentioned. Worth a try.

    • For all of you suffering with this awful itching problem first make sure you have the right diagnoses and then find out what is causing it. I was fortunate after several doctors and trials of meds alternative therapies and chiro treatments, I saw a neurologist. And after she suggested I might have a restless leg problem I thought that couldn’t make sense. My arms were itching not my legs. But after trying the new meds I think she nailed it. I was diagnosed with lupus about 10years ago and I have been thru a lot but this itching was driving me crazy. If anyone would like to contact me about health issues concerning lupus or this itching problem try

  18. I have had itchy arms for over 10 years and have the same experience as every person on this site. I can’t thank you all enough for at least making me feel sane again. I had a feeling it was neurological but no doctor has been able to diagnose it. Finding it so easily on the internet makes me feel like they are all just not trying very hard. I will try some of the solutions listed – thank you thank you.

  19. just was diag’d by the derm dr last monday when it got to be way too much this flare up. It goes away and then returns, but this time, has returned with a vengeance. Grrr. I have issues w/taking pharma chemicals, esp for off label use, since the side effects can be worse than the original problem. I have been plagued by various random skin conditions since I was in my 20s and in my 40s now have develped BRP. i can’t take antihistamines, cause they leave me feeling hit by a truck, so I take quercetin to help w/my mild nasal congestion and “frog in throat” from when ingesting dairy. I purchased a tube of Florasone made by Boericke & Tafel which is homeopathic natural cortisone, and also got a tube of Calendula Gel by Boiron which is a non greasy, cooling gel. The two combined have helped some. I also ordered a small bottle of WhiteFlower Analgesic Balm (a chinese herbal balm) which should arrive any day now. I heard some people have had some success with this. Yesterday afternoon, I was at work, it was almost dark and although I used the cream/gel combo, it flared up so bad I was in tears, and a coworker went to get me some ice. that was the only thing that calmed it. I go to my chiro today, along w/the printouts I am bringing him, can hopefully resolve some of this insane feeling. It’s not like any itch I’ve ever experienced, more like stinging burning fire ant biting itching. ARGH!

    • Hi Lisa,

      I was reading that you had ordered WHITE FLOWER I use that for allergy problems. I was wondering if it has helped your itchy arms. I buy the White Flower at an Asain store. Does this help. I had an MRI and I dio have pinched nerves in my neck, I am off to see the neurologist tomorrow to see what she says about this itch.

      Hope the White Flower worked. I am gonna apply some after I take a shower. I read where someome said yto try Capasain HP but my arms itch worse with heat so I am wairy about using thta.

      thanks Kathy

  20. oh, wanted to add, I have an uncle with the same thing, and am also going to try some Caprylic Acid gelcaps, just in case it is a reaction to the foods I am eating ( possibly too much sugar—causes other imbalance, so trying to watch it)

  21. I am a 20 year old college student and began to itch on my right forearm and left shoulder about a month ago. I found this odd because there were no visible bumps, rash, or skin discoloration. I have “brushed it off” for the past few weeks and just now began researching my symptoms because they seem to be getting worse…especially at night. The sensation is under the skin and is a tingling/burning/itching feeling. After reading this blog, I’m MORE THAN POSITIVE that I have BP. Every symptom is characteristic of my current state. After discovering this blog, I phoned my father who is a neurologist and informed him that I had diagnosed myself. He insisted that he do some blood work and tests, but I am assured after reading so many similar symptoms that this is what I have.

    • I also am self-diagnosed. I’ve had this condition for about 18 months now. What a MAJOR pain it is!!!! I’ve scoured the internet for ways to resolve the itching. Somewhere I read about using Vicks Vapo-Rub on the area. It works!!!! I just may try the HP Capsazin Cream again… can’t get used to the “burning” of that remedy tho…

  22. Karen,

    Your symptoms match mine completely. I am sure that it is BP what I have. What did your father ever say?

  23. I have had the itching on both arms for 8 years, i have scars from all the scratching i have done which only made it worse. i am glad i found this site and hope i can find the final relief i need. i lived in arkansas for 15 years which is where it started. then i moved to nc and had hoped that would help which it did sort of, one of my arms stopped itching and now instead of my whole left arm itching it mostly stays around my elbow area and on my lower arm. i had thought it was the salt on my arms from sweating that made me itch but it happened when i was hot or cold.
    so now, i have found some relief untill i find a total cure. i got some Derma Cerin cream from the doc. and my vaseline. i run cold water over my arm till it feels frozen, then i rub vaseling on it and run cold water on it again. that helps alot, then when it starts to itch again i use the Derma Cerin cream and run cold water over it again. this works for hours on me and i recommend it highly, it wont cure it but it helps me and maybe can help you. even if you wake up at nite just run the cold water and use the vaseline. dont dry your arm off let it air dry.
    im going to try the capzacin to see what that does and hope my next doc visit will help me too.
    one more thing, when i lived in ark i got poisen ivy smoke in my lungs so my whole body itched from the inside out. at the emergency room i got a shot to stop that itching. what was great was it stopped all my itching. i wish i knew what that shot was so i could get it again.

  24. Like many of you, I am relieved to find a community of fellow sufferers. Misery loves company I guess. Yes, ice packs are the only real relief when things get bad. I take Benadryl quite frequently when I feel an attack comming on. It helps for sure, so there is definetly a histamine thing going on. The sun doesn’t always cause a reaction or exacerbate things, but there is no question it has an impact. I use a good UVA blocking sunscreen everyday, rain or shine. The sunscreen thing kind of amazes me in that the relief is immediate. Sun exposure->itching->sunscren->no more itch. That said, the itching can start when I am at home, at night! I’ve even tried putting sunscreen on when the sun is nowhere to be seen… no luck.

    My conclusion: It isn’t just one thing. Sun exposure/damage = yes, nervous system issue = yes, histamine reactions to both = yes.

    The 2 theories that Dr. Benabio outlines in this article, seem to be the prevailing view of the larger medical community. Unfortunately, there is no known cure. Everything I have read about here is some form of symptom relief. I suppose that for now, this is the best that we can hope for.

    To my fellow sufferers, I literally feel your pain.

    Empahtically yours,

  25. Hi everyone! Here I am again. I thought I was out of the woods as I hadn’t itched in so long. Lo and behold, about 5 weeks ago it started. This time on the right arm. Last year it was the left. Always seems to rotate in turn. Tried the Capsaisin, if anything- it made it worse! The heat it produced only exacerbated things for me. Anybody have anything new?

  26. Is anyone else out there experiencing an unusually brutal flare-up that is lasting way longer than usual or is it just me? My arm is itching in places that it never has before and is entering week 7 or 8…

  27. I am so thankful to have found this site. I first started experiencing itching in my right arm winter last year and it just came and went within a few months. Just in the last few weeks it’s come back again this time in my left arm and now occasionally my right. So, after experiencing itching so severe last night, I decided to google ‘itchy arms’ thinking wow this is nuts, I doubt anything will come up and to my amazement I found you all. Thank you so much for all your suggestions. Ice is definately something that works for me but only short term relief, but I will be looking into this big time and will post anything I think could help…..Thank you.

    • There is another site full of posts about this. I believe it is Medhelp. Check into it, there are alot more of “us” than you think!

  28. I have scars on both arms and hands from the itching and scratching. Now it seems i have found something that has helped me alot and now i hardly ever itch and when i do have an itch i put the cream on my arm.
    That capzacin hp is a miracle. This is the first time inn 7 years that i am not scratching my skin off. Yes it itches when you first put it on. I let it do that till i cant take it anymore then wash my arm off with soap and water. Then run cold water over my arm and put a little vaseline over it. Then my arm warms up but it goes away. If it gets a little too warm run cold water over it again. As for myself i like it warm thats when i know its working.
    Its been two months now and i am mostly itch free except for the once in awhile thing.
    So, if it itches when you put it on, wait a minute or two then wash it off, run cold water on it then put some vaseline on it. just a little to rub in. If it gets too warm run more cold water.
    At first i didnt think it would work but it did and now im a very happy camper and whoever found out about this capzasin you are a miracle worker. nothing works overnight , give it a few days :)

  29. I had suffered with BRP for 3 years to the point that I could not let any sun touch my arms even through the windows in my house. After seeing 2 regular doctors, one dermatologist and 7 neurologists. I believe I have now found my cure. I have always had neck problems and headaches. MRI shows deterioation but not enough for surgery. I felt that if the headaches could be cured, my arms would also be fixed. With much prayer, I finally found a neurologist that agrees with me. He gave me nerve block shots in neck then botox shots that will continue every 3 months. He put me on 1 valium for muscle spasms and 1400mg Gabapentin as a nerve blocker. So far, I am finally living a normal life again which is a miracle to me after so many doctors telling me all different things.

  30. I have this! Yes, I had a severe case of sunburn in th 80’s. I notice that the sun sets it off. I think temperature does too. I also have LUPUS.
    The itching makes me crazy. I take Benedryl every day in the Summer.

  31. I have had BRP for about 7 years now. I tried the capscaisin (sp?) HP cream and it burned like hell. I heard others say they tried it and it burned too much so they had to stop using it. I don’t really think they have BRP if that’s the way they feel about it. I was so glad to have them burn instead of itch it hurt like hell and I liked it. If your arms itch so badly you enjoy the sensation of feeling like someone poured gasoline on them and set them on fire you probably do have BRP. Sometimes the sticking and stabbing sensations go up and down my arm in waves for 20 or more minutes until I have to fill the kitchen sink up with water and scream into it because I can’t stand it anymore. I am also self diagnosed, as many of us are. I went to 2 differrent general practitioners and neither one could figure out what the hell is wrong with me. Sometimes, it just starts itching by my wrist and continues up my arm to my neck and I scratch until I am bloody and my arms have tiny little holes all over them. This is disghusting. I heard the histamine theory–I was glad one Dr. mentioned that because I have so much histamine in my arms during an attack–a bad one–that it looks like I have cellulite on my forearms. It goes away when the itching stops–sometimes it plauges me for hours and wakes me up at night. A couple of years ago it seemed to go away for a while-it was in the winter, but it returned full force in the summer. I am a former sun-worshipper. No more-it’s sunscreen and pepper cream for me. I am also taking one loratidine 10mg a day and Benadryl 25mg as needed. I put the capscasin on my forearms and forgot about my neck-the itch stopped on my forearms but my damned neck started to itch like hell. THE CREAM DOESN’T BURN AFTER AFEW DAYS. TRY IT!!!! The only thing that was a pain in the ass about the cream is that it’s hard not to get it on your hands even if you wear gloves and wash thoroughly after application. It burns when you get it wet, too, so don’t use prior to pool or bathing. I wind up getting it on my lips, nose, & eyelids all the time. Small price to pay. I have no neck pain but when I touch the area directly beneath my neck at the top of my shoulders, it feels rotten all the time. I have had some stiff necks in the past but I thought that everyone gets a stiff neck now and then. The capscasin is really doing well at killing the exasperating itch. Believe me when I tell you I have itched so badly I was screaming and digging at my skin with a vent brush, slapping myself and crying because I felt so helpless. Maybe if we all write to a show like The Doctors or Dr. Oz they may feature this if they realize that there are enough of us out here. I have also felt the blessed relief of an ice pack. I wish I could be cured of this-right now I feel like when referring to BRP I have my finger stuck in the dam as far as the symptoms are concerned but if I take my finger out–?? I still have the underlying whatever the hell is causing this wicked itch. I have had to wrap my arms up with Ace bandages before just to go out in public because they looked so disghusting if you saw them at the time you would have vomited. I am 45 years old now but I have had this since I was around 38.

  32. I am 59 years old and have had this itch since I was 24. Always been fit, active and healthy except for this damned curse. I do sympathize with you Melissa, your experience is so familiar to me and yes it seems to be worse in summertime. When it first started happening I nearly lost my mind with the intensity and persistence of this thing. Scratching only made it worse. It would temporarily ease, maybe for only a few seconds and then “bang” double the intensity, as if it had a life of it’s own. like some alien living under my skin! It has come and gone over the years and I have learned to live with it because no GP’s I have asked had any clue and did not really understand the symptoms nor the distress it causes. It is the most chronic itch, as you would all know, like being stuck from under the skin with multiple needles dipped in some ferocious itchy powder.
    No rash on top, no visible signs and generally no indicators of an onset. Almost always on the forearms although in later years it has now shown up on the biceps and shoulders although rarely. In the early years I would literally like a lunatic almost pulling my hair out with the severity of this thing and no way of stopping it until complete exhaustion would set in. I began to guess it may have been neurologically based and finally about 5 years ago found a way of alleviating the pain/itch. I place my fingernails over the affected area with firm pressure – no scratching – in a pattern that needs to be adjusted until the right shape is formed covering a line or area of itch, as if to interupt some line of energy or nerve travel. It works for me almost every time – does not completely alleviate it but certainly contains and controls the monster, but really difficult to sleep like that,face down locking my arms and fingers in place with my body weight, although years of practice have enabled me to actually
    do it – even on both arms at once, with opposite hands covering the itches. It makes for a very light sleep. I am so glad to hear of all you other sufferers out there struggling with this thing and now I’m going back to my GP with new info. I’m liking the sound of the BRP solution.

  33. I can’t believe I have finally found an answer for my itching arms. Mine started when I was about 29, when I still lived in South Texas (very hot, very sunny) where I was born. My doctor thought it was some kind of allergy and gave me cortizone cream, which didn’t help but after a few weeks or months it did go away for a few years. I moved to Australia in 2001 and the itch came back with a vengeance when I was pregnant. I was told “wear loose clothing, moisturize, blah, blah, blah.” No doctor here has had a clue nor seems to care very much, so I decided long ago to just live with it. Sometimes I pour vinegar on my arms which works great for a short time because I always have bleeding, open sores from scratching, so the vinegar burns and “confuses” my nerve endings. The skin on my arms is thick and scarred from scratching. My next step will be to try to find the capsacin.

  34. I like everyone else am so glad to know I’m not crazy!!! My arms have been itching on and off for the last 5 years now and as you have said it may be one arm today and both tomorrow…who knows. It is the most intense itch and I don’t understand why it gets worse once you touch it. Sometimes I think me just thinking about it makes it itch! When I began waking in the night having to itch, not able to sleep, I decided to seek help. I have been to my dermatologist twice and my general practitioner. My dermatologist does think it is nerve related but I can’t get my gp to have an x-ray done (which was recommended by my dermatologist). I do wake up with stiff necks and do believe it is a pinched nerve in my back some where. One way or the other I will get to the bottom of this or I’ll go crazy. I REALLY appreciate finding this site and will be able to go back to the doctor with some proof, an actual name of a condition, for which he can focus on. Good luck to everyone! And as for the previous post…yes, I would rather feel the pain of burning rather than itch for another second! :-)

  35. Thanks for all the suggestions and sympathy. Solutions do not work for everyone but I can say that someone I work with had this for a year and said he finally found something that worked, Shea Butter. He recommended Burt’s Bees Shea Butter and he suggested applying it liberally right when you get out of the shower….leave your arms almost a little wet before you apply. I tried this last night before bed and IT WORKED!!! It was the first night I slept through the night without waking up scratching. I am praying it continues to help. Hope it helps others. ****Please keep working Shea Butter!!!!****

  36. Oh, it is so good to find that others are going through this hell! Not that I would wish this upon ANYONE, not my worst enemy, but NO doctors seem to know anything about this – MELISSA, what a GREAT idea to get hold of the producers of the Dr. Oz Show!! I’m game – if there are enough of us, I would bet they would use it. I’ve been suffering for this for about 8 years now, off and on, I have scars up and down both arms from the digging. My skin is now very tough and raw, looks horrible. Everyone thought I was crazy when I would attempt to describe the intense burning and itching that seems to come from under the skin, and with no rash. My mother said to put Cortizone on it, “it works for me”, but she has no idea of the intense pain and burn that accompanies the horrific itching. Nothing topical helps, although, I must say, I have used Ben-Gay (or, the Wal-Mart Equate version works just as well) and if you can stand the smell, it seems to work temporarily, along with ice packs. *I have also started taking 1 Aleve (220 mg) along with 1 Benadryl (Diphenhydramine Hydrochloride, 25 mg) at night about an hour before bed – it seems to help somewhat. I will try ANYTHING to get rid of this nightmare. Hope my tidbits help – Let’s keep sharing, it helps, if nothing else at least mentally!

  37. After experiencing the intense itching and burning on both arms and across my upper back and neck for 11 years, I found this website last year. This condition seems to be somewhat seasonal. It calms down for several months in the winter here in Michigan. I had been to doctors and dermatologists, but nothing they said to try helped. I tried capsasin once, but it burned the raw skin too much. After reading many of the comments from last year, I decided I needed to go to a neurologist and get him to prescribe Gabapentin. When I went to see the neurologist and told him I had finally found the answer for my burning and itching skin and gave him the name I had found on the internet, he said he had not been taught that in med school and wasn’t about to check it out any further. But I did get the Gabapentin I think because it is recommended for Restless Leg Syndrome. This is the time of year that it really gets going. Gabapentin I think is the answer. I am taking 3 pills a day–300mg each. I need an exteneded release pill. I take a pill and as soon as the burning and/or itching returns I take another pill. I am going to talk to the family doctor about taking a higher dose. I am very thankful for this nerve medicine as I am able to sleep now and I hope to have things smoothed out after I get the correct dosage. Until this website I couldn’t find anyone who had this. What a lonely feeling. I agree that Dr. Oz or the Doctors would be a good place to get the information out and maybe help others.

  38. Hello fellow sufferers…
    I have had this BRP for over 10 years. I first discovered ice therapy several years ago and it worked great for a long time. I had a period of time, about fall 2009 until May 2011 that I had no symptoms at all. It came back with a vengenance. Ice will help, but as soon as I remove the ice the screaming itch begins again. The other day it was driving me mad and I had some Mitigator (for ant bites) and rubbed that in real well. I went over 24 hours without itching! In the experimental stage…itching is back horribly this morning and I am going to try the Mitigator again today and see what happens. Will keep you posted.

  39. (I THINK I HAVE FOUND A CURE)….Oh my god, I never heard about this before I got it more than a month and a half ago. I thought it was hives, because I had that years ago, or poison ivy from being outdoors so often. Ive had shoulder surgery years ago twice on the same arm. I thought I was going to RIP MY ARM OFF! I tried EVERYTHING. Finally, after about 6 weeks, it seemed to go away slightly….then two days before I went to see a dermatologist, it CAME BACK EVEN WORSE! So, that night I decided to put some Tiger Balm on it…you can get it at any or most drug stores. Its a vaseline kind of cream, smells strong like ben gay, and it does have a burning sort of sensation. Its meant for pinched nerves and sore muscles, etc., but it PENETRATES THE SKIN, so it gets deep inside where I believe the problem is. If youre like me, and dont mind a little hot sensation compared to horribly painful itching, this only lasts a little while. The burning sensation meets up with the itching, then overpowers it, and within minutes, the itching dissipates, leaving a slightly “cool” feeling…THIS LASTS FOR HOURS AND OVERNITE AS WELL! It did come back the next day, but right away, I gave it another dose and soon, it was back to relief, with absolutely NO ITCHING. The doctor said if that helps, it should be fine. He also prescribed Prednisone 10mg pills…, which I havnt taken yet, because it may cause diabetes….nice…I dont want that either. He also suggested I am under alot of stress, which I am. Sunlight was not an intense factor but maybe not a good thing. (I am a sunworshipper, and have won tanning contests years ago, but havnt done this in a while) He also suggested Lupus, which I hope to god is not my problem. Nerve damage from a previous accident or surgery was also discussed, which is possible…but I hope to god that someone on here finds a great final cure, because I certainly dont want this to last for YEARS like some of you! (Arggghhh) So for now, try Tiger Balm…IT REALLY DOES WORK! peace, love and light to you all…..

  40. This problem surfaced when I was in my thirties. I am now 55. In the past, I have seen a few doctors and they prescribed antihistamines and topical cortisone creams – neither helped. Year after year I have suffered with the intense itching, mostly starting in June and ending in December. Ice packs were my answer. Now it’s August and the problem has surfaced again. I decided to search the internet about my itching and am now here at your web site. I am positive I am having the same problem. I have always enjoyed the sun have had many sunburns in my life. I have also suffered with hives my entire life and my bottom lip used to swell in High School. I had shingles when I was pregnant at 29. All of these problems have surfaced in posted comments and I feel somehow they may be connected. Thank you to everyone who has written in – I am now sure that what I have can possibly have a diagnosis or at least some hope of a solution. I will try the hot pepper cream. And, I am going to talk with my chiropractor too. And, use UVA/UVB cream and avoid direct sunlight (hard one – I have a pool in my backyard and live on the coast). Best wishes to all of you – you are not alone!

  41. So glad to have found this site ! I’m 51 and have been suffering from BRP for about 25 years. Unless you suffer from it you have no idea just how intense the itching is. My arms are covered in scars and white marks from the scratching/rubbing. Much worse when I get hot – I would like to wear long sleeves to cover my arms up because they look horrible but that just makes them itch even more. Wakes me at night, probably when I get hot. I’ve seen several doctors about it, none had come across it before and none were interested. I’ve been prescribed various tablets and creams over the years, but nothing works. The only thing that will stop the itching/burning temporarily is to apply an ice pack – I keep a couple in the freezer at home and a couple at work. I firmly believe it’s due to nerve entrapment/damage in the cervical spine. I had a car accident resulting in whiplash just before the start of my BRP and have done lots of heavy lifting which makes my neck even more painful leading to itchy arms getting even worse. Am in the process of getting xrays of C4-C8 (cervical spine) to check for damage, and will ask for an MRI scan of the same area if xray don’t show anything. Hope something works it drives me crazy. Good luck to everyone else out there – hope we can raise the profile and get some effective treatment.

  42. I posted a blog here on August 3rd, about how I believe I found a cure for this horrible affliction, and it is still working….however, my blog has not yet posted and it is 5 days since then. It says it is awaiting moderation? Im not sure why it is taking so long. My email is, if anyone would like real relief regarding this. Thank you :)

  43. My trouble with BRP started when I was pregnant with my daughter, 12 years ago. My OB/GYN told me I should see a psychiatrist…needless to say she is no longer my OB/GYN! It makes sense that it started when my spine would have been going through changes to support the big belly. I am a natural health consultant, and make every attempt to avoid any OTC or Rx meds, so I stick with ice. That’s it…ice. I have lost so much sleep over the years and I am so frustrated with this whole thing. I have learned that the only way to not get itchy is to not touch my arms in the first place. My kids can’t touch them, nobody can. Once you start it’s downhill from there. My chiropractor has been a huge help, really the ONLY help. I find that I usually itch worse right after an adjustment, but then have a little time off from it after that. People always ask me what happened to my arms…anyone who doesn’t know me well would probably think I’m a cutter! The one thing I know of that I haven’t seen on any blogs is that you should never wear any type of halter-tie top. Bathing suits are hard to find, but it’s worth finding one that doesn’t put pressure on that part of your neck.

  44. I have the same symptoms!!! Itch and scratch till I bleed. Went to the dermatologist today and she recommended capsaicin which you can get over the counter. I got the roll on application only cost $7.99 at drug store (Walgreens). I have tried SO MANY creams, that did not work!!! Waste of money. Doctor thought I was stressed, but I don’t think so, and why would just my right arm from the elbow to wrist itch in that one area?? Anyway, wish me luck with the capsaicin and I will let you know how it works. Good luck everyone I know what you are going through. Its so hard to explain to someone who doesn’t have this problem.

    • CAPSAICIN WORKS!!!! Put on your arm and it WILL BURN, but it stoped the itching! The itching stopped immediately and here it is December. So far so Good.!!!!!!! My dermatologist said the cream adjusts the nerve endings. Remember, it does burn so be careful when putting it on.

  45. I havent been to the Dr. yet but I am convinced I have BRP. Everything I read on the subject describes my symptoms perfectly. I just wondered however if anyone has an associated symptom of involuntary arm jerking / movement with the severe itching. I dont know if it is a secondary symptoms or completely unrelated. It is focused on the shoulder area where the itching is the worst.

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