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PUVA Itch
from Todd L.

Ed: I visited FlakeHQ to find out information on PUVA therapy, and to see if there has been any progress in trying to cure the PUVA itch that I suffered when I first went through PUVA ten years ago.

I happened upon another sufferer that asked the same question, but you stated that this phenomenon was new to you and asked if anyone else has gone through this (see PUVA After Effect: Severe Itching?). Well, I guess this is better late than never. I, too, had the PUVA itch. It was the worst experience I’ve been through — seriously. I couldn't sleep, and I couldn't calm the itch.

It wasn't any ordinary itch. It was a deep down itch that couldn't be soothed. I would say it was quite maddening. For that reason, I stopped the PUVA treatments and dealt with the scales. Now, ten years later, I am ready to try it again — and I hope the itch stays away! Have you heard anymore about this side effect? Thanks for your time, -Todd L.

*****

Ed’s Response: Thanks for bringing this up, Todd. The National Psoriasis Foundation, in its educational booklet on PUVA (Psoralen + UVA light) has this to say about that bad itch:

... [I]n some patients a deep, nagging itch will follow PUVA treatments because the nerves in the skin have been temporarily damaged. Antihistamines, baths with oilated oatmeal products or application of topical products with capsaicin, an extract of hot peppers, may help.

This booklet (and the other NPF educational booklets) are now available on-line to members of the National Psoriasis Foundation.

Nothing specific is suggested about avoiding this nerve damage in the first place. I can’t help but wonder if less exposure might not reduce the possibility? I tried PUVA for a very short time. My skin burned unmercifully at well under 3 minutes of exposure, so my derm concluded I could not tolerate enough exposure to help my P. But I remember from that experience that, each time I burned, the immediate reaction was to fall back on the exposure time.

More recommendations are available at PsorHeads (link on navigation bar at top of page). In the "Psoriasis Treatments" Forum there is a postings thread titled "Need Help for Intolerable Itching." Look specifically for the posting by "kim" in which some specific actions to curb the itching are described.

Best of luck, Todd! -Ed

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