Seattle Plastic Surgeon empathises with those who itch after surgery.
I’m a naturally itchy type. I keep a back scratcher on my bed side stand. I’m one of those types who gets prickly heat with 5 minutes exposure to sun and every ten years or so get hives for no apparent reason. So if you are itching after surgery, I feel your itch and your pain.
Itching is no laughing matter. Itching sensation is carried by the same nerve fibers (so called c-fibers) that cause pain. I personally, on any given day, rather hurt than itch.
Post-operative itching of incisions is absolutely normal. It is cause by the chemical histamine, which is present in healing wounds. It is also present in nettles. Some patients find a lot of relief in just knowing it is a sign of healing and will diminish. Others find even more relief in an over the counter antihistamine such as Zyrtec, Afrin or Allegra which are good for daytime use or Benedryl which is great at bed time because it also has some sedation qualities. There are also prescription medications for recalcitrant itching.
Post-operative all over itching is usually a reaction to a post operative medication. Narcotics such as Percocet and Vicodin also cause histamine release and often an antihistamine helps or changing medication can help. Also, some antibiotics cause itching if a patient is sensitive. In these cases, changing antibiotics usually takes care of the problem.
Another thing that I have found helpful is a topical cream called Caladryl which is a combination or Camomile and Benadryl Cream. Caladryl kept me from going crazy during a hive outbreak about 20 years ago. Don’t put it on your incisions unless you get the okay from the doctor but you can slather it on itchy areas away from the incisions.
Don’t itch and suffer in silence. There is almost always something that can help.
Thanks for reading. Now I’m feeling a little itchy. Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder