Skin Itching in Stage 5 kidney Disease: Causes and Treatment

Uremic Pruritus is a common Skin Problem among ESRD patients. Some patients have the symptom all the time, while some get worse during or after hemodialysis. The pathophysiology of UP is complex and many uremic and nonuremic factors contributing to its development. The two major causes are high phosphorus levels in blood and allergies to the dialysis.

The followings are causes and treatment of Uremic Pruritus:

High levels of phosphorus: Due to the fact that dialysis can only perform at 10% of the capacity of a well functioning kidney, it fails to effectively remove phosphorus from the blood. Dialysis can’t remove phosphorus effectively, so phosphorus accumulates in blood. A high level of phosphorus in the body causes itching. In this case, patients could take phosphorus binders and keep a low-phosphorus diet to help prevent or stop itching.

Allergy: If patients get worse during or after hemodialysis, they may have an allergy to the blood tubing, dialyzer (artificial kidney), the type of heparin being used or other elements associated with the treatment. Let your doctor or nurse know it so they can make some improvements for you. As you become weaker than before, you may develop a sensitivity to some product you use. Find the allergen and remove it.

High levels of parathyroid hormone: The levels of the minerals calcium and phosphorus in the blood are unbalanced owing to the renal damage. Low levels of blood calcium trigger releasing of parathyroid hormone which is another cause of itching. Patients could take extra calcium and vitamin D under the instruction of doctor.

Dry skin: Dry skin can also cause itching and it’s a common condition for patients with end stage renal disease. Avoiding long, hot showers or baths and moisturizing soap could help you improve the condition.

As the cause of Uremic Pruritus is complicated, you can turn to a renal doctor and find the real cause of the symptom.


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