In 2009, I had my first taste of the skin manifestations of colitis. I’d just started taking probiotics. Within two or three days of taking them, I began to itch. I wasn’t tracking my symptoms or my diet at the time (see my journal template here), and had been spending lots of time in the woods. I thought I had gotten poison ivy. Over the next few days the itching got worse and worse. I was befuddled. Soon I had full-blown hives—a “classic drug rash,” my doctor called it. By the time I got to the doctor, though, I had put two and two together and quit the probiotics. It took almost three weeks for the hives to dissipate—even with a potent antihistamine cocktail.
But quitting the probiotics weren’t an option for me; they made me better; they, along with the SCD were my plan to stay off drugs. I could see that even in the short week or ten days I’d been taking them that they were effective for me. I was stuck—there was no way I was going back to Imuran. It made me feel terrible. After the hives disappeared, I tried increasing the probiotic dosage again with monumental slowness; I tried different brands; I tried just yogurt, both cow and goat; I tried everything in every combination I could imagine, but the itching remained. I wanted to filet my skin off. Since the itching was worse at night, I’d often wake up looking like I tried to do just that. I was tired. I was embarrassed to show my legs or arms in public. And I was nearly driven mad on several occasions from what I can only call itchiness ‘flare ups.’
In 2009, I thought I had a simple cause and effect: eat probiotics, get itchy for 3-6 weeks. However, over time, I found that it wasn’t that simple. One or two brands of probiotics helped my colitis, but which didn’t make me itch. I could go weeks on these probiotics and not itch, then for no apparent reason, I would begin itching furiously—curious and confusing. I began to look more deeply into it, using my journal and attempting (I’m human too) a disciplined addition and subtraction of foods and treatments. As I was investigating the source of the itching, I found several things which seem to set me off (mind you, it’s taken me over two years to figure this out—it was that confusing for me). None of this is yet certain, but only my best guess. I’m currently consulting with an ND to get to the root cause (which is related to inflammation and leaky gut, but I’d like to get more specific answers).
If you’ve dealt with this kind of itching, please share your experience in the comments below. Read the rest of this entry