A KidneyBuzz.com viewer wrote, "The skin on my feet, ankles, legs & arms are itchy & flaky. Will Dialysis treatments cause this? Creams give only very temporary relief. I feel it's coming from inside my body."
As patients are well aware, itching is an issue that most, if not all, Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients must face on a regular basis. This can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression, and an overall lower quality of life. Many attribute itching to higher phosphorus levels and contend that an increase in binders may help. However, this is not always the case, and over consuming phosphorus binders can lead to other issues such as elevated calcium, bone disease, calcification of arteries, and even serious heart disorders (leading cause of death in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community). What's more, often itching is not a result of elevated phosphorus, but instead dehydration (the body loses more fluid than it takes in) and the limited function of oil-producing glands of the skin due to kidney failure, according to Dr. Thomas Taylor. The following are simple and effective tips that a Chronic Kidney Disease patient may implement to help stop excessive itching and gain a higher quality of life.
1. The Right Soap: A remedy to dry, itchy skin is to use a good moisturizer soap. Frequent washing with strong soaps can dry out the skin, so it is essential for patients to try to use mild, moisturizer based soaps (Aveeno, Nivea, Lafco, Tom's, Dove, and more) or ones that contain essential oils. Hot water also tends to dry out the skin, so Dialysis patients that are experiencing skin troubles should try not to take long hot showers frequently.
2. Simple & Effective Homemade Mixes: You can apply some olive oil on your hands and leave it on for 20 minutes before washing it off. This should make Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients' skin soft and stop the peeling, suggested Yogawiz.com. Aloe Vera and papaya are also good for the skin. Use either aloe gel or fresh aloe to prevent dry skin. Make some papaya paste and apply it for 20 minutes, then rinse. Patients can also try to mix one cup of apple cider vinegar and two-quarters of water and soak their hands and/or feet in the solution for 10 to 15 minutes. Afterward, they should wipe off and then apply a little lavender oil. Cucumber is also a natural moisturizing agent. Grated cucumber applied on dry, flaky skin for 10 to 15 minutes every day helps replenish lost moisture to the affected area. Finally, the juice of fresh mint can be applied at bedtime every night to revitalize parched, peeling skin. Consider discussing these options with your Nephrologist to ensure that they are right for you.
3. Allergic To Dialysis?: Look out for allergies. If you notice excessive itching occurring at the beginning of your Dialysis treatments, you could be allergic to the blood tubing, dialyzer, or the type of heparin being used. Antihistamines such as Benadryl are used to treat allergies, and creams that contain Capsaicin can also treat allergies. Just discuss the issue with your Dialysis Nurse who can provide the appropriate solution.
4. Stay Inside: Hands and feet are most prone to dry skin because they are exposed to the sun and used for a host of activities. Stay indoors as much as possible during the midday hot, sunny hours in order to prevent damage to the skin by exposure to the harsh radiation of the sun.
5. High Phosphorus Levels: A high level of phosphorus in the blood can cause excessive itching. While many believe that phosphorus is always the cause of itching and taking more binders is the easy solution, this is not necessarily the case. However, if you believe that your phosphorus is high then focus on what you eat. Limit foods high in phosphorus (chocolate, dark colas, milk, cheese, cream soups, pudding, organ meats, and most processed/prepared foods). Also, be sure to take binders as recommended and try to stay on Dialysis for the full time.
6. Feeling Thirsty?: Dehydration can also be a very serious and complex issue in the Chronic Kidney Disease Community. Hence, have a discussion with your Nephrologist about the amount of water that you can take in daily to combat thirst while maintaining your recommended fluid restrictions.
Moreover, we at KidneyBuzz.com encourage all Chronic Kidney Disease and Dialysis patients to discuss with their Nephrologists the issue of skin irritation, itching, and peeling along with these ideas and any others that they may have before making any major changes to their medical plan.
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