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Thread: Need help: Persistent itching, possible chemo side effect?

  1. #1
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    Need help: Persistent itching, possible chemo side effect?

    Hi all. This is my first post . As you can see in my sig I was diagnosed with NHL about four months ago and have already completed 6 cycles of R-CHOP chemo regimen. So far my body has tolerated the sides effects not too bad, although as everybody knows, this is not an easy experience, to say the least. I think what mattered the most in my combat against the "side guys" was the mental attitude, or in other words, "mind over matter". The "big fatigue" occurred just after the first one or two cycles and the decline of the immune system hasn't caused too much trouble, except for a couple of incidents, one of them was very painful though. So, all in all, I haven't had much to complain about, especially that I was pronounced "clean" in midway, and maybe this is why I hadn't posted so far.
    However, I'm suffering now from a persistent bad itch which my medical team doesn't seem to overcome, and I wonder if I can get any help here.
    I completed my 6th and last chemo cycle 9 days ago. About a week prior to that I started to develop the itch and it's still bothering me. We've tried Benadryl, Atarax, and Allegra, at no avail. About a week before the itching started I took Fluconazole for a week " it's an anti mouth fungus med against a possible fungus infection in my mouth, and itching is one of its possible side effects, but the itching persisted after I stopped taking the drug. To make the story complete, we also have a cat for about a year and a half but so far I have had no allergies whatsoever. I'll appreciate any hints, tips or ideas. Feel free to ask, if you need more detail.

    To ChemoMan: I searched the forums for "itching" and I saw your post of Sept 24, 2008 to Maggie. I'm sorry that you suffered so much from itching and other stuff months after your chemo treatment finished. Your last R-CHOP was at the end of May 2008 and when you posted in September you haven't recovered from the side effects yet. How are you doing now? How long did it last? Have you used any meds? I'm sure you have one good "antidote" " you Aussies are renowned to be tough, right mate?
    61 y.o M, Diffuse large B cell NHL, stage 3. Lower back. Diagnosed Mid May 09. Completed 6 R-CHOP treatments on 9/8/09. In Remission: 10/19/09. CNS lymphoma (spine only) March 2010
    In treatment ever since.

  2. #2
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
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    Hi Vincera

    I still have the itch, its as bad now as it was when my chemo finished. Its mainly on my legs but from time to time I start itching all over. I also have a really itchy nipple, that was where the itch first manifested itself. I have found that smearing my legs in Nivea cream helps a lot. I usually put the cream on for a few days then I find I don't have too much of a problem with it for about 3 or 4 days but it always comes back. I have asked my doctor about it but he doesn't have any answers for me, other than to say my skin appears dry and to keep using the cream. It also helps not to scratch the itchy spots but that is very hard to do when you skin is crawling. At the end of the day I am happy that I am alive to complain about it

    If you find any answers please please get back here and tell me, I would be most grateful.

    Have many many more trips around the Sun and enjoy
    Age 62
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a Bulky presentation
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011

    NED AND DECLARED CURED on the 2/01/2013

    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    Still alive in 2019 !

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

  3. #3
    Senior User
    Join Date
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    Hi ChemoMan,

    I'm sorry that you're still having the itch. Have you gotten any medications? Is it considered an allergic reaction, or nerve damage or skin damage? Maybe it's a side effect due to damage done to other body systems like the liver? In your case allergy to chemo drugs per se has to be ruled out because your treatment was over so long ago. At what stage of the chemo did the itch start? The more we know about our common enemy, the more chance we have to fight it and win over it (my user name should indicate my attitude.) It's frustrating that so many people have suffered from it and there's no sure cure. In my Net search I bumped into another forum ( I understand that I'm not allowed to post links yet) and someone who suffered from another type of cancer with another chemo regimen mentioned the drug Lyrica. The side effects of this drug look frightening, so I don't want to even pursue it. Imagine treating side effects of side effects of side effects¦ This is like an endless goose chase.

    I found this link for home remedies against itching: http://www.natural-homeremedies.com/...es_itching.htm
    Let's try a few methods and compare notes.

    I'll keep you and others posted once I get any answers. I wish you complete recovery ASAP.
    61 y.o M, Diffuse large B cell NHL, stage 3. Lower back. Diagnosed Mid May 09. Completed 6 R-CHOP treatments on 9/8/09. In Remission: 10/19/09. CNS lymphoma (spine only) March 2010
    In treatment ever since.

  4. #4
    Count me in as well.....I suspect it's due to the change in the skin glands that caused the hair loss.

    I had a horrid rash over about 40% and no pattern- they delayed my intrathecal trying to figure out what it was.

    I found my sweat as well felt weird.

    There is adipose tissue under the skin and that stores drugs - I suspect its similar to the taste bud/mouth changes....

    I'm 3 months off the last cycle chemo and it's slowly fading.

    I was tempted to do a sauna series to sweat the stuff out but thought it might be too much stress and the radiation I'm receiving as a prophylactic measure says keep the heat stress down


    Calamine lotion helped the itch - I still have a couple of small patches.
    Mine started right when my hair started to come back and there were weird itchy bumps on over my ears and back of my head - I'm convinced it's realted to the sweat glands and hair regrowth.

    I'm still suffering ( too strong a word - it's just annoying ) from a low level salt taste in my mouth and minor mouth sores tho my tastes are mostly back to normal.
    Digestion is back to normal but have to re-aquaint myself with a higher fibre/vegetable diet.

    Still have a protein fat craving....have to consciously go for a bowl of milk and cereal.

    Getting close to my first trim...hair coming in dark plus some silver - what I had before.....nice to have eyebrows again.


    ˘˘˘

    Chemoman - there is a slight advantage to being overweight in chemo about 3% improved result and the reason was thought to be delayed release of chemo drugs stored.

    IF the skin and other systems are impacted then there has to be some widespread distribution and it can't all be flushed quickly.

    Hell I still have a couple of faint needle/hematoma bruises so blood flow is sluggish in many skin areas......

    Likely a test would be to work up a strong sweat and see if it impacts the itch.....it looks and feels like an allergy reaction along the lines of hives.
    Could be even something related to vitamin processing ( anyone every overdosed on Vit A know how that impacts....itch itch itch ).

    ˘˘˘

    I also feel dehydrated - dry mouth but not thirsty.....can't quite get that balanced. - my skin does not look hydrated
    Age 63 DHL Stage 2/3 • CHOP+R x 6 >2/26/09 Complete 6/9 2009
    Diary here http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=12003
    Officially in remission July 9th 2009 3 rounds of Intrathecal July 29th
    Radiation as a prophylactic measure. 1st Radiation Sept 9 completed Oct 1. 2009
    Cancer free 2012 and having fun http://www.gtamotorcycle.com/vbforum...-second-season 3 more appts to cure declared Sept 2013 - cancer free. Lots of travel photos here https://picasaweb.google.com/home April 2014 cance free and last appointment.

  5. #5
    Senior User
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    Posts
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    Hi SingleDad,
    Have you lost hair all over? My hair lose was only on the head and face. What have the docs said about your theory?
    About your mouth sores - have you tried gurgling with hydrogen peroxide/water 1:1?
    It helped me right away.
    Why did they give you intrathecal? I thought regular R-CHOP via IV is the common treatment. Same about radiation. How was your first rad treatment?
    You mentioned something about vitamin processing. Hmmm. I started taking multi vitamin pills recently. I'll stop taking it and see what happens.
    61 y.o M, Diffuse large B cell NHL, stage 3. Lower back. Diagnosed Mid May 09. Completed 6 R-CHOP treatments on 9/8/09. In Remission: 10/19/09. CNS lymphoma (spine only) March 2010
    In treatment ever since.

  6. #6
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
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    Hi Vincera

    I can't tell you exactly when the itch started, its was around the end of my chemo. I don't care how bad it gets there is no way I am going to take pills for it. having had 10 years of swallowing meds for my RA then 6 rounds of R CHOP I reckon I have had it with pills. The nivea cream does help a lot so I will stick to that, its cheap and it works OK so that is what I am sticking with. As time goes on the itch gets worse but hey I can put up with it. My treating physician is not concerned about it so neither am I.

    Good luck and if you find a cure get back to me

    Cheers
    Age 62
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a Bulky presentation
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011

    NED AND DECLARED CURED on the 2/01/2013

    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    Still alive in 2019 !

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

  7. #7
    Lost most of my hair all over - some leg and arm hair remained - eyebrows thinned but did not disappear.

    I used baking soda for the sores during chemo and that worked fine - it's not worth fussing with at this point - very minor.

    Intrathecal and radiation were 100% prophylactic - my tumour was small but on my testicle so they had some concern over it's connection to other body circulation systems....

    My doc called it the full meal deal.

    He called me cancer free quite quickly - the rest is precautionary and not in the least debilitating.
    Radiation takes 5 minutes - lie down - machine looms over you - zap zap for 2 minutes - up and gone.

    Throw out your pre cancer diet - anti-oxidants, juices etc - go back AFTER your treatment. Right NOW you need high protein, high fat easy to digest ( your digestive tract will be thoroughly messed with - do eat some active yogurt to keep the fauna replaced )

    Steroids will make you very hungry - I found a bunch of small high value meals easier to handle than regular 3 daily.

    Shakes with bananas are excellent sipping food. Easy on the throat and mouth.

    Ginger ale is excellent as are ginger pills.

    Go easy on the fibrous veggies and grains as your digestive system will not be normal.

    You'll swing constipated to the runs....

    Stay off spicy foods

    I think I'm just dehydrated somewhat and kicking out salt and perhaps some remaining chemo residue - that's where the minor stuff with skin is from.

    Can't get over heated with the radiation so two more weeks and maybe I can flush the junk.....my sweat still feels weird and thick.

    You are young so may not get hit as hard on the energy standpoint but I was functional all the way through with little chemo brain effect - some moodiness ( steroids ) and a few crashes....lots of naps are a good thing.

    You'll be fine...keep positive.
    For me I did not tell anyone but a staff and professionals ( lawyer and accountant ) until AFTER I was declared cancer free.

    I felt I needed the emotional energy to be focused inward and you'll find it an emotional drain to deal with the concern ( sometimes over concern and advice ) of others.

    You do need a support network but I kept mine tight.

    Post cancer reaction was very positive and gave me a real lift and some shared stories that were far more fraught than mine.

    Use your judgement but once info is released it's hard to retreat into the battle shell you need for getting through it.

    Normal interaction with friends is often a welcome relief - remind you of where you will be shortly.
    Bald is easy for men - just tell them it's a change of style - something you wanted to try.

    Up to you- but that's my 2˘ - and relax - this is very curable especially at your age..
    Age 63 DHL Stage 2/3 • CHOP+R x 6 >2/26/09 Complete 6/9 2009
    Diary here http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=12003
    Officially in remission July 9th 2009 3 rounds of Intrathecal July 29th
    Radiation as a prophylactic measure. 1st Radiation Sept 9 completed Oct 1. 2009
    Cancer free 2012 and having fun http://www.gtamotorcycle.com/vbforum...-second-season 3 more appts to cure declared Sept 2013 - cancer free. Lots of travel photos here https://picasaweb.google.com/home April 2014 cance free and last appointment.

  8. #8
    I'm glad to find this post, as I've had an itchy right nipple for a few months now, and never even considered it as a possible after chemo side effect. I'll be sure to mention it to my onc at my next followup just to make sure that it's not indicative of something more serious.

    Getting a lot of acne on the right side of my neck now. Maybe it's the result of eating too much American cooking over the past month...Americans definitely like sugar, too much for their own good! I wonder if the chemo makes me more susceptible to acne breakouts as well? It's not particularly worrisome, but it does make for some painful shaving.
    My Story: http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=11396
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 1AE (localized in colon)
    Began six cycles of R chop 21 3rd Dec 2008
    Finished R chop 21 Apr 2009
    Complete remission as of May 2009
    Confirmed April 2010

  9. #9
    I don't think the docs are particularly knowledgeable post chemo side effects and frankly it's a bit of a waste of their time.

    Epidermatologists might help but I'd just suspect your skin as the largest organ is going to be one of the last to settle down given the insult.

    Chemo could easily sensitize to external allergens - your immune system is lower and body is still rebuilding so skin issues I'd say are no surprise.

    I'd also say keeping food range limited to easily tolerated might help as your "disposal" systems are not quite up to par as yet.....so indeed it might be Murican food"

    ˘˘

    Kinda nice to have soft hair again instead of bristle - it's starting to lay flat
    Age 63 DHL Stage 2/3 • CHOP+R x 6 >2/26/09 Complete 6/9 2009
    Diary here http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=12003
    Officially in remission July 9th 2009 3 rounds of Intrathecal July 29th
    Radiation as a prophylactic measure. 1st Radiation Sept 9 completed Oct 1. 2009
    Cancer free 2012 and having fun http://www.gtamotorcycle.com/vbforum...-second-season 3 more appts to cure declared Sept 2013 - cancer free. Lots of travel photos here https://picasaweb.google.com/home April 2014 cance free and last appointment.

  10. #10
    Administrator Top User ChemoMan's Avatar
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    Hi Joepet

    Hey you got an itchy nipple too hah I dont feel so odd now. Thats where my itch started. It hasn't been too bad the last couple of days but I have been putting a lot of cream on it. There are times when it drives me nuts. If you find anything that works lets us know.

    Cheers
    Age 62
    Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma
    Stage 2a Bulky presentation
    Finished six cycles of R chop 21 26th May 2008
    Officially in remission 9th July 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 1st October 2008
    Remission reconfirmed 17th June 2009
    Remission reconfirmed 7th June 2010
    Remission reconfirmed 6th July 2011

    NED AND DECLARED CURED on the 2/01/2013

    No more scheduled visits to the Prof
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9620

    Still alive in 2019 !

    RULE NUMBER 1.....Don't Panic
    RULE NUMBER 2..... Don't forget rule Number 1

    Great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

    I may not have gone where I intended to go,
    but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.

 

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