kidney failure

Who among us hasn’t been tormented by the itch after a mosquito bite? This is due to the histamine release at the offending site. In some, it is a bit more exaggerated and an oral antihistamine or topical cream with the passage of time does the trick to provide optimal relief.

Now imagine that intensity and urge to scratch diffusely spread over your entire body in a constant and unrelenting fashion. Night and day. Where a more significant underlying cause won’t be benefitted and cured by time or a Benadryl, for instance.

That is called chronic “generalized pruritus” and its etiologies can range from the readily fixable to the necessitation of a liver transplant in those where treatment for the symptom might be refractory. In the extreme, sleep is impaired and even...

I can imagine why Van Gogh cut off his ear. About ten years ago some infernal, multilegged creature crawled deep into my ear. The itch was extreme torture even though it wasn't a pain. I poured water into the ear to flush the critter out. When that failed, I poked at the ear with various utensils not a smart approach, but the tickling was driving me mad. I was about to crack when an ant scurried out. Why do we itch? Why does a small patch of eczema or the bite of a puny mosquito cause so much discomfort? And what's the best way to soothe an itch?

Rhymes with . . .

Itching "pruritus" in medical parlance is a natural protective mechanism that evolved over millennia to alert animals to the presence of parasites and other irritants on the skin....