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Severe Itching and TMS

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Jim D., Dec 22, 2017.

  1. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    For many years I have been applying the principles of TMS to my various ailments, beginning with one of those "miraculous" cures for back pain after reading Dr. Sarno's book dealing particularly with that subject. Then it was spells of dizziness, which went away very quickly after I had a glucose tolerance test during which I had all the symptoms I had been experiencing but which resulted in a completely normal report. I had various pains that persisted after physical injuries, and I was able to deal with those. But now I face skin issues that will not go away, no matter how seriously I try to apply the insights of TMS, including those of Dr. Sarno and many other people. I have read Ted Grossbart's book, Skin Deep, but cannot resolve the issues.

    I have had skin ailments nearly all my life, but they were manageable; this new one is not. Several months ago I began experiencing itching in various parts of my body; there were a few red places, but mostly there was no evidence whatever that there should be an itch--in other words, it was an itch without a rash. I went to a dermatologist for another issue and asked her about the itch. She told me what I expect all skin doctors say: apply lotions after showering and use a prescription medication (which I have had for years) for the places with rough or red areas. I was hoping to hear her give emotional issues as a possible cause, but that did not happen. I followed her instructions, but the situation has only gotten worse. Of course, like everyone else, I researched the issue online and found two possible physical causes for an itch without a rash: first, the medication I take to prevent gout attacks and. second, kidney disease (which both my parents had). You can see that these explanations made accepting a TMS diagnosis (which I had given myself in a preliminary way) quite difficult. In any case I had my primary-care doctor lower the dosage of the gout medicine, with no change in the itching. I worry about lowering it further or eliminating it altogether because I well remember the excruciating pain of gout. (I know there are some who say gout attacks can be TMS, and I think there is a lot of merit in that explanation, but so far I'm not willing to risk following it.) Yesterday I saw my doctor--who unfortunately believes there are always physical explanations for everything afflicting the body--and he examined the results of kidney tests to conclude I do not have any signs of kidney disease. He thinks the gout medicine is the culprit. I have been taking this gout medicine for perhaps 15 years without any side effects, but my doctor said that one's body can change with aging and side effects show up. I believe the explanation for the itching is TMS, but I cannot "make it go away." The itching, especially at night, is almost unbearable. Interestingly it does not happen when I am thoroughly engrossed in something (such as making chocolates, which I do as a hobby and a business), but when trying to get to sleep, when one is deliberately trying to empty the mind of engrossing thoughts, the itch returns with a vengeance. Any suggestions will be most welcome.
  2. Baseball65

    Baseball65 Beloved Grand Eagle

    I don't know about your meds, but I have had a couple of 'mystery itches'. One happened right after my knee got better from a TMS attack. I itched the top of my foot so bad it got a divot. I went to the Md. thinking I had athletes foot or something and he thoroughly inspected it ....and told me it was nothing!

    I have a perma-itch spot on my right shin. Nothing there, but it always begins itching when I am under stress...sort of a TMS early warning system.

    ...and CHIGGERS! When I moved here to the south I discovered these little minions of satan. When I get them I get waaaay more itchy than anyone else I know....usually til they bleed. I think our TMS Demeanor gives us a sort of propensity to over compensate any stimuli at all. . . anything that can serve as a distraction. Itching is a great one.

    I have learned with certain bites (I get a lot...construction worker) If I can refrain from itching it in the short term it goes away faster. Sort of a walking meditation to NOT react.
    Balsa11 likes this.
  3. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    "Sort of a walking meditation to NOT react."

    Thanks for that advice. I have been trying to apply it since I read it a couple of days ago. It's tough to do, but I know you are right.

    It's looking like the anti-gout medicine (allopurinol) may be the culprit. That means I may have to go off it completely in order to find out. If the itch continues, I will know that TMS is involved. It's all very scary as an attack of gout is a terrible thing to endure.
  4. Lizzy

    Lizzy Well known member

    Jim D,
    I was recently reading that research is being done on low carb diets, especially low fructose I believe, for gout. Something about sugar, especially fructose, causing the production of purine, even though its a low purine food. Apparently its been quite successful.
    Good luck, Lizzy
  5. Jawarrior1

    Jawarrior1 New Member

    Jim D, I have similar itching episodes, did you find the cause to your itching?
  6. Jim D.

    Jim D. Peer Supporter

    Well, yes and no. My dermatologist is not a believer in the mind-body connection. It's not that she is actively opposed, but everything she tries is treating the itching like a physical ailment. So I use a prescription steroidal cream for those times when I wake up and can't get back to sleep because of an "itching attack." Not long ago the doctor walked in, saw my red, scaly back and said, "Oh, angry!" I was never able to determine whether she meant me or the eczema, but I knew the mind was involved. Then she got an OK from the makers of Dupixent to give me a year's prescription free of charge (this was amazing since, even with my insurance, each shot would have cost $750, and I take one shot every two weeks). So I dutifully inject myself (injecting oneself is not as easy as some may think--the instinct is to take the needle out when the pain starts). Frankly I don't think Dupixent is helping. The lesions have mostly gone away, but the itch continues as bad as ever. Since Dupixent promises (in their TV ads) to end the itching, I would say the injections don't work. But this episode was helpful because it seemed clear that the eczema and the itching are not directly linked. At my last visit the doctor injected some cortisone shots directly into the lesions on my back--very painful, did not help.

    But all of these things (the cream, the injections) are purely physical, and I am convinced any relief I may find lies elsewhere. So, as Dr. Sarno recommends for stubborn cases, I began seeing a psychotherapist. I selected this one because he specifically lists dealing with "unexplained medical symptoms" as one of his specialties. It was good to have someone who believed firmly that the itching has nothing to do with eczema but with some underlying issues. I would like to have a success story to share, but after ten sessions, I did not see any progress and the cost was prohibitive (especially when he said "oh, we're just getting started"), so I stopped therapy. I am now concentrating on basic TMS/PPD techniques, and the symptoms are beginning to spread to other areas (dizziness, fatigue, digestive issues, hearing problems--an ear doctor saw no physical issues). From what I have read, when the brain thinks you may be "catching on" to your TMS manifestations, it starts looking for others. Some of the current anxiety, I feel certain, is the ending of therapy and the tendency to punish myself for giving up on therapy and thus not being perfect.

    Sorry to go on so long. What have you tried for your itching? And do you think it is TMS? A resource you may find useful is Dr. Ted Grossbart (grossbart.com), who has posted his book online (free) that deals exclusively with skin issues and their underlying causes. Although he does not use the terms TMS or PPD, he is, I would say, a "true believer."
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2021
  7. Jawarrior1

    Jawarrior1 New Member

    How I resolved my skin issues to be 95% better is a long story. I recommend reading the whole thing here it is, it may help you:

    For me my skin issues started in my early twenties. I had them all the way until I was 28. The itching was severe to a point I was removing skin because it hurt less off my body rather than on. I shaved my head because my scalp was so itchy and the hair got in the way of scratching. I had pot holes throughout my body from scratching. I would have 2 or 3 hour itch attacks with no apparent rash, redness or bumps. In addition I was dealing with mental health issues, obesity and isolation. I went from 170lbs to 305lbs and decided not to care about life.

    Triggers had mostly to do with water for me. Water/sweat on my skin caused itch attacks. Also rubbing cotton on my skin caused itch attacks. I did not have health insurance so I couldn't see a dermatologist. I was also very stinky all the time as I would not shower for 1-2 months at a time. Every shower was horrendous. after a year of this and other issues I got a government health insurance and saw a Nurse Practitioner from a homeless shelter. She said there is nothing wrong with me besides my obesity, bad diet & mental health stuff. She sent me to a dermatologist.

    The dermatologist said there is nothing wrong with me and its all in my head. She says its likely related to the mental health stuff. I came back for a revisit, the dermatologist told me not to come back as there is nothing wrong with me. She gave me anti-histamines and corticosteroid cream. I used them religiously and found no benefit from them.

    My parents pushed me to live on my own in a home for disabled people at age 26. I got a home healthcare provider who was coincidently a health nut. Over the next 4 years she encouraged me to eat healthier and lose weight. At the time I viewed weight loss as impossible. Exercise = sweating, sweating = itching, sweating = shower, shower = horrendous 3 hour itch attack of doom.

    After eating healthier with her one winter, when I can walk outside without getting an attack, I took what was my bimonthly shower. I came out of it and I did not itch. It was a freakin christmas miracle. I had no idea what the reason was but I was so encouraged I decided to try weekly showers, eat healthier, walk(its winter) and lose weight.

    2 years later I went from 305lbs to 165lbs and had been reading plenty of books on nutrition and exercise. Many of my extreme health problems were dissolving and I did not know why.

    This part is relevant I promise. Eventually I develop musculoskeletal pain throughout my body in random areas. It becomes extreme and I am bed ridden. I could hardly do anything and I did not know why. I asked my nurse practitioner about it and she told me she suspected autoimmune disease.

    So I pick up 3/4 books on autoimmune disease and read them over 3 months and apply an elimination diet, going gluten, diary, sugar free for 2 months. Suddenly the last bits of my mental health issues dissolve, my skin issues were completely gone but my musculoskeletal stuff remained.

    That is when I discovered my itch attacks were caused by FOOD. I took a retrospective look and my life history confirmed it.

    As of 3 months ago the musculoskeletal pain is 90% better with TMS theory; I have gone from bed ridden, to jogging and weight lifting daily. Now my appetite is out of control, really out of control. I can stop myself from eating junky food and guess what, the itching is back! No where near as strong as before but it was completely gone for over a year.

    The reason I read your thread was that if I can rule out itching being caused by TMS then that means if I want QOL I need to get my appetite under control. I need to eat anti-inflammatory foods. That's just where I am at at the moment.
    TG957 likes this.
  8. Balsa11

    Balsa11 Well known member

    Eat a balanced diet and manage conditioned responses. It's ok to get tested for food intolerances as backup. If you do fine without gluten, don't need to eat it.
  9. TG957

    TG957 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Here is interview with the TMS dermatologist:

  10. Balsa11

    Balsa11 Well known member

    Main thing to practice: don't scratch the itch!
  11. Balsa11

    Balsa11 Well known member

    Agree with not stratching the itch

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