Is it sensitive skin or is he imagining things?

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I know this is a silly question, but in the last couple of weeks, my Dad has been complaining about itching excessively. I haven't noticed a rash or anything, and we have changed his body wash a couple of times. Most recently we started using Baby Wash. We also use "free" laundry detergent and fabric softener. I'm not sure what else I can do to alleviate the itching.


Of course, with the dementia, he's "stuck" on this topic and repeats it ad nauseum. Could he possibly be imagining the itching? Is there anything I can do to get him "unstuck"?


He's also been claiming that his gray sneakers are missing. Dad has NEVER owned a pair of gray sneakers, so I'm not sure where this is coming from. I just try to divert him by saying we can get him a new pair or telling him they will turn up. He's stuck on this topic as well, and he seems sooo concerned about it to the point of agitation.


Is there anything I can do to divert his attention? I know he can't help it, but I don't know how many more times I can repeat the same thing over and over again. I try to be patient, but it gets annoying after a while.

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My aunts dr said to put the lotion on while the skin is still damp from the shower. On daily basis her aid puts some lotion in aunts hand and has aunt rub it on her arms and legs. Drinking enough water is a challenge and affects the skin as well as everything else. If she scratches until she bleeds we put a bandaid on the spot which reminds her to not scratch and it has a chance to heal. On a recent trip to urgent care for a UTI, dr gave her a low dosage cortisone shot to try to break the itch cycle. Seasonal allergies are bad right now so the thinking was that was making the itching worse. Let us know if you find the sneakers.
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I would try to accommodate your dad and it appears that you got some great suggestions here. I realize he has dementia, but, still....I KNOW how uncomfortable your skin can be if you have really have sensitive skin. From birth, I have had the most sensitive skin of just about anyone you can imagine. I was so sensitive as a baby that I could not tolerate baby powder, just corn starch. Many things make me itch. I'll just list a few things that really help me.

Make sure the labels in the clothing are not rough. They itch me to death and I remove almost all of them. ( I know writing names in the label is important, but, I'd just write in on the garment.)

SOAPS. I only use Ivory plain bar soap. The only soap that doesn't make me itch.

Avon's Skin So Soft Original lotion. The only lotion that works for me. It soothes my skin and it's not dry.

I' check to see what the facility is washing their sheets in and also what if any fabric softner or fabric sheets. That stuff can really irritate my skin.

If he's still itching and uncomfortable, I'd ask about something like benedryl from his doctor. It may interact with his other meds, so, I'd ask about that or something else for the itching.
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Such helpful responses everyone! Thank you SO much! Dad does take thyroid medication, so that could definitely be the culprit.

I switched him to Aveeno sensitive skin plus moisturizing shower gel (that's all they allow at the Adult Day Center where he takes his showers), and I think I am going to "sneak" additional oil or moisturizer in the shower gel. Dad isn't going to go through the extra step of moisturizing, and he probably won't let the staff help him apply it, so two birds with one stone...

I will try to find a pair of gray sneakers to borrow to see if I can get to the bottom of the shoe issue. I never thought that he could be mixing up his words.

Thanks again!
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When I suggested an anti-itch lotion I was thinking of it more as a placebo. I wouldn't use anything that is actually medicated or that should be used sparingly. Just anything that will help him feel that he is being taken seriously and being given help.

Gray sneakers aren't real popular around here, so that may be hard to come up with. But with Dad's vision problems you may find something satisfactory in a thrift store. Maybe a light lavender color could be passed off as gray, or a faded black. And as CM says, once he gets the sneakers you may discover that he really was thinking of something else entirely.

You are being extremely patient. Take a gold star out of petty cash! Take some consolation in the fact that these obsession usually pass on their own.
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My mother has itchy skin. At times she has gotten into a itch-scratch cycle. We've gone to the dermatologist and he says anything he sees is self-induced. But I know the itching is real, even if the cause is just dry skin and irritable nerve endings. Lotion helps. Using a moisturizer helps. The thing that seems to help most is having the dermatologist tell her to use something like Cerave lotion. There are two lotions most recommended -- Cerave and one that I can't think of right now. They absorb well into the skin.

The problems with lotions is they can start using them compulsively. My mother now spends most of her waking hours watching TV and massaging lotion into her hands. I tell her not to do it so much and she always says that she is just trying to get the lotion into her skin. I don't think she realizes how obsessive it has become. :-(
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Itching skin is a big problem and can have many causes. It is important to keep the skin well lubricated with a mild lotion. I also swear by the gold bond products.
Even putting some oil in his wash water will help as well. Makes cleaning the bath tub more difficult.
Some medications will cause itching so look up the side effects of everything he is taking. CM mentioned Diabetes and I would add a low thyroid to that list.
Definitely stop using the hydrocortisone cream. When used on a large area of the body it will be absorbed. It is fine to use it on a small area but no more than that.
Tinyblu I am sorry the VA seems to care so little about your Dad but realistically the psychiatrist was right . She could have been more caring and definitely prescribed something for the agitation but maybe she felt adding an anxiolytic would make matters worse. Does he have oxygen to help his breathing? if the breathing is very bad they could add a tiny dose of liquid morphine which will take the feeling of not being able to breath away and could help the agitation. If they do that watch out for constipation.
Even outside the VA system it is not unusual to have to wait 90 days for a specialist appointment.
Have you considered hospice or palliative care? I don't know how bad the COPD is, but if it is advanced enough would be a diagnosis for hospice care. Dementia usualy is not unfortunately.
Hospice care does give you the advantage of 5 day respite care in a facility every so many weeks which does give the caregiver some relief.
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How's his kidney function?

I'd lay off the hydrocortisone cream unless it's on px for him and/or you can find out what's going on. Is it helping? - because if so that could give the doctor a clue.

I don't suppose you know anyone who's got a pair of grey sneakers you can borrow? I don't mean, just to save buying a pair; but what if he doesn't actually mean what he says? What if he's saying that, but there's actually something else at the back of his mind and he can't just now think of the right label for it? It would be infuriating; if you can borrow some you can check if that really is what he's after.
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Anything with colloidal oatmeal, like Aveeno, might be worth a try. Also, gold bond products.
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My Grandma and I both have the same problem. What I do is I use the suave free and gentle kids body wash, and then the curel advanced healing lotion. Then at night time I use a little baby oil. It helps keep the skin moist, and stop the itching. Baby powder also does wonders in the really bad areas.
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Sorry Tinyblu. My dad in his 80s and grandmother in her 90s also complained about having itchy skin. I tried every cream on the market for my dad. I don't know if it was one of the side effects of the medication. We do have dry weather where we live so that could have made it worse for him. He also suffered from diabetes.

I know its not easy and you have been very patient. Maybe check with a dermatologist and see if they can recommend something.
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