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Have tried everything.

Let me second the mentions of "low iron" that Scottie and Marcia suggested. Years ago I develop severe itching that nothing would help. There was absolutely no visible evidence of any skin issue to explain the itching. I tried every other suggestion on this page, two dermatologist got tired of seeing me after ordering everything they could think of .

For me, the itching was worse whenever I sat still or tried to sleep. I would end up making myself bleed, with the scratching, At night, I couldn't sleep because of it, so I sat on the edge of my bed, holding my arms tight to stop myself from scratching, while i just rocked my self back and forth. And cried, until the exhaustion made me fall asleep for an hour or two.

..I was working at the time (night shift RN) and found I couldn't even sit still long enough to do my charting. I found I had to stand up at a counter and shift my weight from foot to foot, because that little bit of activity seemed to help. But sit still, and it was unbearable.

Needless to say, I was exhausted. But it turned out the exhaustion was also due to anemia. I took iron for that, (despite the annoying constipation it caused.) But the anemia kept getting worse. Eventually my doctor sent me to a hematologist to deal with the anemia. He mentioned the itching could be from the anemia. Three years I'd been going literally insane with this crazy itching and not one doctor (of several) ever mention this possiblity. (Maybe they thought the typical OTC iron that I took should have solved this if it were the cause. Who knows.)

Anyway, the hematologist ordered IV Iron infusions for me. That stuff burns pretty bad. But turned out to be totally worth it. The night after the first infusion was my last time night to spend scratching my sking to bleeding, sleepless, and sobbing, on the edge of my bed. I was so depressed, because , foolishly I'd hoped for a miracle. Not so foolish, though. Because the second night after that infusion I slept like a baby. And never had that crazy itching again.

I still tend to have itchy skin, due to mild psoriasis, and normal winter dryness. But those three years that I suffered with that horrible itching was like torture. And just the memory of it almost makes be cry again.

So all that is just to suggest you find out your mom's hemaglogin and hematacrit levels. And talk to her doctor about this possibility, if nothing else works. Good luck.
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againx100 Jan 21, 2019
That's awesome that you finally got a resolution!!
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For 3 months cut out gluten, tomatoes, peanuts and eggs, if you want to go a dietary route.

Sarna lotion is very good. Used to be rx, now OTC.
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Sturgeon1 Jan 16, 2019
Thanks. We will try the Sarna lotion first.
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How's her kidney function? The reason I ask is that severe itching is common in later stage renal disease, and apparently (don't take my word for it) Gabapentin and Pregabalin are the drugs of choice.

Just something to check, and I'd rather hope it's absolutely not relevant.
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Sturgeon1 Jan 16, 2019
Her kidney and liver functions are good. Just had complete blood workups. Had bile duct blockage last summer and bilyrubin was elevated which caused severe itching but that is now normal.
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This may or may not help your Mom, but you may want to try plain old coconut oil. The cheap kind used for cooking found in the grocery store, does not have to be organic or virgin. It was the only thing that cured up my mother's itching and now my Dad's. As a side note, the only thing that worked for our elderly dog with severe itching after trying expensive prescription shampoos and multi-drug regimen (super expensive!) from the vet. I don't know why I did not think of it when Dad started itching like crazy and it took a very educated and experienced CNA to recommend it. Worked like a charm!

I suspect it will only help if your Mom has become sensitive to fungi which normally occur on the skin (and are in the air all around us -- there's always a fungus among us!). I know for sure this was the case with our elderly dog (testing showed it to be so), but unknown if the culprit with my late Mom or my elderly Dad. Might be worth a try! It takes a few days to really work. Apply liberally twice dai!y.

If she has scaly itchy patches on or near her scalp (looks similar to "cradle cap" sometimes seen in babies and not uncommon in the elderly) you can gently remove the scaly patches with a cotton ball dipped in witch hazel and then apply the coconut oil to give her relief.
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Violet521 Jan 17, 2019
Thank you so much for this advice! My mother (82) constantly scratches her scalp and then examines what comes off of it. It's a little gross to be around her when she's doing it and she is unaware when she's doing it in public. I haven't had any luck with common remedies, like scalpacin. I will try the witch hazel and coconut oil combo ASAP.
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Has she been tested for scabies? This is quite common in nursing homes and ALFs
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Did any skin care products change? My 87 year old mother went through the same thing. Intense itching almost all of her waking hours. There was no rash. Doctors did tests, everything was normal. She had purchased a new body lotion and had been using, but I didn't think that could be the cause. I decided it wouldn't hurt anything to stop using just to see. Within the day her itching started subsiding, and within 3 days it was completly gone.
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Instead of giving her more drugs, check the drugs she is currently taking. I've taken meds before that made my skin crawl. No rash, just itchy all over. How I recognize the feeling of I've taken some new medication. But the first time I didn't know what was going on. My skin was crawly. All day and all night - even in my sleep - when I was finally able to get to sleep. It was miserable. It was driving me crazy. It made me cry. Don't let the doctor say it wouldn't be drugs if there is no rash. Because that is 100% untrue. I had no rash. I've had an allergic reaction to meds before - and I got a rash. But that's different than what I am talking about. Be persistent in looking at her meds closely. Another thing it could be is laundry soap or fabric softener. Laundry detergent and fabric softeners are full of toxins that can cause itchy, crawly skin. They leave residue on our clothing that clog our pores or enter our bodies through our pores. I would put my money on one of those things. Her meds or laundry soap. Applying oils, lotions or creams might not be a good idea. Unless it was certain that her itching was dry skin, I wouldn't want to risk causing more irritation. Besides, you don't want to just treat or mask the symptom. You want to eliminate the cause. The soft gloves on her hands is a sweet idea ... Just to protect her skin until you figure out the cause. But don't let that he the solution. It would be torture living with that itchiness. (Laundry detergent can make your skin itchy and crawly without leaving a rash too. I've experienced that before as well. Many times.)
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As we age our skin gets thinner, which tends to dryness. Mine has been thin and dry from birth, and now it's terrible. If your mom's itchiness is due to dryness, you might take these measures which have worked for me.

1. During the winter, no more than twice-weekly showers, with "sponge bathing" in between. During warm weather I can go back to daily showering. I never immerse in a bathtub.
2. CeraVe cleansers and moisturizers are fantastic (but expensive). I use Cerave SA (ceramides that remove scaliness) daily, right after shower or sponge bath while skin is still moist. Hands down the best.
3. Shampoo and rinse-out conditioner residues are extremely irritating to skin, a hazard if you shampoo in the shower and don't rinse thoroughly. Rinse, rinse, and rinse again from body as well as scalp. This is a must.
4. Some laundry detergents are irritating to some people. You might try switching brands (try one with no perfumes) and use about half the recommended amount. My clothing gets just as clean with less residue to irritate the skin.
5. If you live in an arid environment, use a humidifier day and night.
6. Make sure you drink enough water.

This works for me, and trust me, I've tried everything.
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Lots of good answers here! I have also had good results on skin issues with olive oil. Yes, just the plain old cooking oil from the grocery store. I worked as a caregiver for an elderly gentleman whose leg (he was an amputee) from the knee down was so dry and scaly it looked almost like crocodile hide. He also had sores that wouldn't heal, that needed to be dressed twice daily. Every morning and evening when I changed the dressings I rubbed that leg down with olive oil. After a few months the skin was so soft and healthy, his doctor called me to ask how I'd achieved it, as he had another patient with the same problem, and he wanted to know how to advise her!
I just thought you can't go wrong with olive oil, it's pure and natural, and they used it for everything in Bible times, from cleaning newborns to preparing the dead; anointing kings and priests for their stations in life to flavoring salads and baking bread; making one's hair or face shiny to binding wounds..... so I'd thought it was worth a try.
I know coconut oil is the popular thing right now, and it probably is a little easier to handle, being solid at room temp... but I find that olive oil is more readily and quickly absorbed by the skin, which to my mind makes it preferable if a person is very sensitive, as it requires a lighter touch and less rubbing. I used to pour a small amount in a flat dish and microwave it about ten seconds to warm it first to make it even easier to apply. Just rub it all over your palms and smooth it onto the skin.
Hope this helps!
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Toadhall Feb 3, 2019
Congrats on curing the crocodile hide without using a $100/ounce prescription cream! I used to use olive oil myself on my face hands and feet, but switched to coconut. I found the coconut to leave a less greasy feeling. Ancient Romans washed themselves by spreading olive oil on their bodies and then gently scraping it off. They used no soap. They were reputed to have beautiful skin.
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Sturgeon1,

For my 93 year old mom, her back itched constantly... we used Cetaphil and mixed pure aloe Vera gel with it after her shower. Also, I just looked online and CeraVe Itch Relief Moisturizing Cream gets good ratings from people who had itchy hives from Medication reactions. Hope that helps!!
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