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Dr. Andrew Rynne

Family Physician

Exp 50 years

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Suggest treatment for itching on the body while having liver cirrhosis

Answered by
Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :1991

Answered : 3104 Questions

Posted on Wed, 23 May 2018 in Liver and Gall Bladder
Question: i have crirrocis quit drihking 2years but i have bad itching
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 59 minutes later
Brief Answer:

Detailed Answer:
Hello and welcome,

I am really sorry about the itching related to your liver.

Here are some things you can try for itching but I advise that you check with your liver specialist first to make sure they are ok for you to have:

1. Naloxone and Naltrexone: these are opiate antagonists but can be helpful for liver related itching. They are by prescription.

2. Cholestyramine: This binds to bile salts. It does help some people. It can be constipating though.

3. Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine and cetirizine (Zyrtec). Sometimes these have to be used in higher doseages than what is recommended on the over the counter instructions, but I would want you to check that out with your doctor before doing.

There are other medications that can be tried, but under doctor supervision as they haven't been approved yet for use for liver disease related itching. So do contact your liver doctor as he or she may be willing to try some with you.

I am really sorry you are having this problem and I know that generalized itching can be miserable.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
Follow up: Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 1 hour later
it gets worse at night cant find from sheets

is this for the rest of life
Answered by Dr. Bonnie Berger-Durnbaugh 2 hours later
Brief Answer:
Thoughts on this

Detailed Answer:
In spite of this problem being fairly common for people who have cholestatic liver disease, not a lot of controlled studies have been done on how to stop the itching. But there have been some recent discoveries about what causes the itching, so hopefully there will be medications that will be available.

In my reading on the problem, I also read that the antidepressant called Zoloft (sertraline) can help too.

Since the itching seems to involve chemical stimulation of the nerves, a medication that is currently being studied for this is gabapentin (Neurontin) which is usually well tolerated.

So...while I can't predict whether you will have this for the rest of your life, I would encourage you to talk with your doctor about trying some of these medications such as the naloxone, sertraline, and gabapentin. They may give you enough relief to make things tolerable or maybe make it go away.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar

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