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L-W-O Community

For those living with Primary, Secondary & Paediatric Lymphoedema Online & in the Community

Breaking the itch scratch cycle

Author: Gaynor Leech, Founder of L-W-O


Always do what it right for you

I can never quite work out if the itch/scratch cycle is solely down to my lymphoedema, the medication I must take or that I was born with very dry skin.  I know as a child I had eczema which would flare up from time to time but eventually seem to outgrow. I do know that the itching has got worse since my lymphoedema, but I also know some of my medication states clearly that it can cause hives and itching.  My guess would be a combination of both?

This week I ran a poll amongst L-W-O members and asked, "what time of day they found the most difficult"?

The Poll ran for 48 hours and 41 members took part


My urge to scratch is always in the evening, usually around my wrist area, very much on my affected side, but my feet can also cause problems.

I will always be eternally gratefully to my Aunt who when I was 10 gave me a jar of Pond’s and told me to moisturise every day, saying very firmly “don’t forget your neck”.  Moisturising was instilled in me from a very young age, and I have never had a problem with the routine of looking after my skin.  The older I get the more appreciative I am of this early advice.  My Aunt lived until she was 102.


Many of our members report itching, burning sensation on their skin and we know from experience that keeping our skin in good condition is essential for our overall well-being.  Although not for everyone I find body brushing does help, especially if my skin is flaky.  A gentle brush followed by holding my arm under a cold water tap really does work for me.  If the burning sensation gets too much, I use an ice pack. Then lots of moisturiser. 

With my feet I keep a pair of clean white cotton socks at hand then moisturise my feet and put the socks on as it holds the moisture in.  A glass of water helps at this stage, because I am moisturising from within and this does cool me down internally.  It won’t suit everyone, but it does work for me.

I would also suggest that mild, unscented soaps and conditions are preferable. Please remember that’s soaps can be very drying and again it is important to use something you like and works for you.

Finally nail care is essential, I keep my nails short, filed and try not to let them get too ragged so that if I do scratch before I realise what I am doing, then I don’t cause too much damage. At all costs avoid breaking the skin.

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