A loyal KidneyBuzz.com viewer wrote, "I am looking for help with what can be done when, as a patient, I have tried all of the available types of tape that my Dialysis facility offers yet I have been noticing that the area around my Dialysis AV Fistula has been itching and I have been applying lotion, hoping that would help, but it hasn't helped enough as of yet. If you have any suggestions for what we as patients can do it would be greatly appreciated."
As Chronic Kidney Disease patients well know, this regular KidneyBuzz.com viewer and Dialysis patient is not alone. Although, patients know to leave their Dialysis Arteriovenous (AV) Fistulas alone during and after treatments in order to avoid infections, needle slippage and other complications, at certain points the Fistula can really itch and drive patients crazy. This can cause frustration, cause treatments to be more difficult, impact a Chronic Kidney Disease patient's quality of life, and if the patient does begin scratching their fistula for relief - they may be hospitalized due to infection or worse. Why does that "itch" happen and what are patients supposed to do to stop it?
First, Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients should realize that the Dialysis Access Site can itch for reasons beyond the tape allergies. The itchy sensation you feel could actually be a result of your Dialysis Access Site healing and scabbing which causes sensitive nerves to react to both chemicals being released and structural stretch on the surrounding skin and wound tissue. It has been discovered that there are itch-specific nerve fibers in the skin. Their sole job is to signal to the spinal cord that an area of skin is being stimulated which is perceived by the brain as an itchy irritation.
Still, sometimes patients are experiencing itching as a result of an allergic reaction to an adhesive tape used after Dialysis treatments. One patient wrote, "Hubby's Fistula itches and he can't use 'silk' tape at all. His arm where the tape is will sometimes turn red." Redness, swelling, and rashes are all signs that a patient may be allergic to the tape being used. Clearly, a Dialysis patient does not want to disturb his/her Fistula to avoid health issues. The following are tips that patients may use to reduce the itchiness of their Dialysis Fistulas and improve their quality of lives while avoiding health complications:
1.) Ointments and Creams: Some specific ointments and creams that patients have noted which stopped their Fistulas from itching include: Webcol, Cortisone Cream (yes, it is the same cream used for Excema), A&D Ointment, Aqueous Cream Moisture, and Calendula Ointment. While some of these creams are sold over the counter and do not need a prescription, Dialysis patients should check with their Healthcare Teams before incorporating any new products into their treatment plans.
2.) Wash your site: Gently wash with soap and warm water and pat dry to remove any old cells that have fallen off and contributed to your itching.
3.) Avoid Certain Clothes: Avoid irritation of clothes rubbing against the Dialysis Site are. This may mean you want to wear short sleeves after Dialysis.
4.) A standing prescription: Some Nephrologists have been known to put a standing prescription order of Benadryl in a patient's Dialysis file which can be administered on an "As Needed Basis" in the case of an allergic reaction, upon the patient's request.
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