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Aquagenic Pruritis

August 8th, 2010 · 14 Comments

I know that self-diagnosing by browsing the internet is often a bad idea. But in this case I think I got it right.

For months, every time after I get out of the shower, my legs would start itching. At times it is almost unbearable, and I sit there scratching away. It peaks about 5 minutes after drying off, and then usually lasts about an hour. It’s mostly in my feet and legs below the knees, though I get a little itchy on my back and other places.

At first I thought maybe I was allergic to the soap, or maybe the detergent or softener used to wash my towel, but switching things didn’t help at all.

Finally a little research on the internet showed that I was not alone: I had Aquagenic Pruritis. Aqua = water, Genic = cause, Pruritis = Itching.

There is no cure, but there are things to do to reduce the symptoms. I have tried three things:

1) Rub Benadryl lotion on my legs after my shower. It helps, but it takes 10-15 minutes to work, and it’s unpleasant waiting for it to take effect.

2) Desensitize the skin by multiple applications each day of a capsaicin lotion. (Capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili peppers that make them taste spicy. Be warned not to touch your eyes after applying!) I don’t know if this has helped. Maybe I don’t put it on enough times each day.

3) The thing that helps the most: Rub baby oil over my legs before my shower. Apparently this seals the skin so the water has less contact. It makes my legs a little oily, naturally, but a light layer isn’t bad. And it helps a lot, almost totally eliminating the itch.

I’ll keep up the capsaicin treatment for a while, and hopefully I can reduce my skin sensitivity, but for now I’ll continue going to bed oily. And if I forget both, there’s always the Benadryl with it’s belated help.

Tags: Family Updates

14 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Don // Aug 8, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Ouchy! That doesn’t sound like any fun. There is a 4th alternative that you didn’t mention. You could always see a Dr.

  • 2 Daryl // Aug 8, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Doctor, Shmoctor! I know as much as they do…

    OK, you’re right, I guess that is a reasonable alternative. If my self-treatment doesn’t continue to help I’ll think about it.

  • 3 Richard // Aug 8, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Or you could quit taking showers…. Nah. Bad idea. All of us would rebel at that.

    Strange malady. Do you know what causes it? Is it genetic? Environmental? Psychological? Gynecological? Illogical?

  • 4 Don // Aug 8, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I suspect it only happens to Liberals…

    running away now…

  • 5 Donna // Aug 9, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    Hey, I self diagnosed my Benign Positional Vertigo via research on the web. I’ve heard that if you read it on the internet, it must be true! (I think I read that on the internet).

    Another treatment on the wiki page you linked to is UV light, or a tanning bed. Have you considered that? Might be worthwhile in moderation.

  • 6 Mom // Aug 9, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    When I was a kid, I had a period of time that I was allergic to water. In those days, the doctor had me wash in milk! That was before benadryl. Good thing we had lots of cows; I just deprived the pigs of some of their skimmed milk. Ugh! Not pleasant. Now, sometimes I itch, and I take 50 mg. benadryl caplets–that’s two baby pills, It helps more than anything. If I use capsaicin ointment, I do the native dance until I get it washed off, and my body part is bright red. None of that for me; the cure is worse than the condition.

  • 7 Dale // Aug 10, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Maybe you have been sleeping on a tick mattress:)

  • 8 Mom // Aug 10, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    How are you and water doing? Is it a continuing problem, or was it a short time episode?

  • 9 Daryl // Aug 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    It’s been bothering me for months, and still does, except when I remember to pre-treat with baby oil.

  • 10 Donna // Sep 30, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Any change? Still using just the baby oil?

  • 11 Daryl // Sep 30, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    It hasn’t been as bad lately. I’ve stopped using the baby oil, but I keep a spray bottle of Benadryl nearby and use it almost every night on my legs. It takes a few minutes, but then works pretty well.

  • 12 Donna // Jul 7, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Do you still have problems with this? I’ve thought about you lately because I had about 6-7 weeks of itching episodes following my surgery. A week of taking Zyrtec every night (at my doctor’s recommendation) finally broke the cycle. How is your Aquagenic Pruritis?

  • 13 Daryl Lafferty // Jul 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I still have the problem sometimes, though interestingly it went away while I was in Taiwan. I just spray topical Benadryl, or generic equivalent, and it feels better in a few minutes. Great stuff – it works on insect bites too.

  • 14 Donna // Jul 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    I got some spray Benedryl, but it’s really sticky. I didn’t like the feel on my legs and back when I was going to bed. I wonder if there is something in our water making you itch? Flouride?